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US Open Library is infringing Australian authors’ copyright

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Anyone in publishing will tell you that any revenue is to be cherished these days, the internet’s ability to give things away for free is unmatched and it’s hurting anyone that produces content.

Being an author is very hard and they have taken exception to the US Open Library as it will further erode what is an already tenuous financial proposition. A recent examination of the project by the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) found that the site was hosting scanned copies of in-copyright books by Australian authors such as Helen Garner, Michelle de Kretser, Tim Winton and many more.

The ASA has joined with similar organisations in the UK and America to condemn the Internet Archive’s Open Library project, which aims to digitise and distribute books for free.

ASA CEO Juliet Rogers explained that they had approached the Open Library to ask them to remove the books from the site.

Ms Rogers says: “They do have a statement on their own website saying that they work to uphold copyright etc, and we asked them to exercise their own copyright policy and remove books by Australian authors, which are protected by copyright.

“They have another legal opinion that they are relying on, but that’s not OK for Australian authors.

“Their response was that they preferred to deal with the actual authors individually, so we’ve taken them at their word and provided authors – whose books are there without permission – with a draft takedown notice to send to them.

“Given how tremendously difficult it is to earn a living from writing, we are deeply concerned about the Open Library project, which undermines legitimate ebooks sales and standard library practices.”

“It’s not that authors are trying to block people having access to their works, but they depend on their income from their intellectual property and this doctrine of everything should be free – well – how are we going to generate wonderful writing if no-one ever gets paid.”

To check if your work has been published on the site without permission, go to the ASA’s website and follow the instructions. The Copyright Agency would be interested to hear from any of our members, particularly educational publishers, about any copyright infringements.

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