SFWA Alert: Authors Must Opt-Out of Book Digitization by December 1

SFWA’s Legal Affairs Committee has issued an alert informing members that the government of New Zealand has decided to ship more than 400,000 books they are de-listing from their Overseas Published Collections catalogs to the Internet Archive for digitization and inclusion in its Open Library. These are for the most part older books, but many are still in copyright. New Zealand is allowing authors who do not wish their books to be digitized to opt out, but time is running short: the deadline for doing so is December 1.  

For a spreadsheet of affected books, instructions on how to opt out, and more information, see the New Zealand Overseas Published Collections page here: https://natlib.govt.nz/about-us/strategy-and-policy/collections-policy/overseas-published-collection-management

SFWA recommends downloading and searching the spreadsheet rather than relying on the alphabetical listing, which may not show all entries.  

This alert is also a reminder that although the Internet Archive is currently being sued by four major publishers, it is still accumulating copyrighted books from various other sources and making them available on their website. Even if an author has already asked to have their books removed, there is no guarantee that they haven’t been added again. The SFWA Legal Affairs Committee issued two previous infringement alerts concerning the Internet Archive’s massive digitization project, which affects many more authors. The first, sent in 2018 about the Open Library is here. The second sent in 2020 about the now-discontinued National Emergency Library is here

It is still possible for authors to directly contact the Internet Archive to have them remove their books from their website; both of prior alerts include instructions on how to do that. Books that are included in the New Zealand donation are no exception, if an author misses the December 1 deadline.

[Based on a news release.]

15 thoughts on “SFWA Alert: Authors Must Opt-Out of Book Digitization by December 1

  1. Interesting criticism. The headline is picked up from the message sent to members. However, I see the SFWA Blog did not use their own headline, going with something much softer. I had this news item earlier and didn’t run it because the remedy doesn’t actually expire. Then came this urgent alert from the field’s professional guild. Was I underestimating the importance of the news? So I ran it and did so with their emphatic headline.

  2. It does, at the least, remind people that the Internet Archive is still happily digitizing books without the authors’ permission. Are they still using the pandemic as an excuse for that or have they moved onto some new weird justification for violating copyright over and over and over again?

  3. Includes works by Robert Silverberg, Harry Harrison and a bunch of others which are still in copyright. Decision creating extra work for many authors and their agents.

    Legal proceedings against the Internet Archives continue…

  4. @Cat Rambo

    Are they still using the pandemic as an excuse for that

    The pandemic was never the excuse for digitization. It was an excuse for allowing more simultaneous readers than Controlled Digital Lending typically would allow.

  5. @bill–

    The pandemic was never the excuse for digitization. It was an excuse for allowing more simultaneous readers than Controlled Digital Lending typically would allow.

    “…*than Controlled Digital Lending allows.”

    FTFY

  6. @bill–You think the Internet Archive can ignore its actual requirements because you like their motives–specifically, by “lending” unlimited copies simultaneously.

    And no, I’m not going to rehash this in detail with you yet again.

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  8. I don’t think any such thing, and I’ve never said that the Internet Archive can make available unlimited copies.

    You were personally insulting by calling me “ignorant” – either back up the claim with cites and quotes, or retract it.

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