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Join Date: May 2001
Location: New England
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - October 1st, 22
"There is absolutely no way I would have been wandering around my village in rural Wales listening to rapper Bashy, for instance, if it weren’t for P2P sharing." – Emma Garland
October 1st, 2022
I was a Teenage Napster Obsessive – and Illegal Downloading Changed my Music Taste for Good
The P2P giant was shut down 20 years ago this week. But the omnivorous mindset it encouraged in a generation resonates in the very best of today’s genre-smashing pop
It’s 6pm on a weeknight in 2002. I settle into a desk chair and thump the huge, round power button on the family computer with my big toe. It clunks like a manual typewriter returning. Several minutes of whirring and clunking ensue as Windows XP boots up, bathing my 13-year-old face in its harsh blue glow. Next, another few minutes of what sounds like Wall-E being fed through a meat grinder as I connect to the internet, preventing my mother from making or receiving phone calls for the next hour. I immediately open Napster and queue downloads for as many horribly compressed, incorrectly titled songs as possible and watch them race to 100%. Out of Reach by the Get Up Kids competes with Method Man’s Bring the Pain. Jostling beneath them, probably: a selection of Slipknot singles, Fiona Apple’s entire discography, an unspeakable amount of Ween. Also Tom Lehrer reciting the elements over a Gilbert and Sullivan tune, popular at the time for reasons I no longer remember.
Depending on how you see things, Napster killed the music industry or set it free. The peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing programme, launched by Boston university students Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker in 1999, enabled users to share audio files stored on their personal hard drive. In theory this made it helpful for accessing, say, bootleg live recordings or hardcore punk EPs limited to 300 copies on tape. In practice, it saw a peak of 80 million users downloading anything that had ever been released at a rate of 14,000 songs a minute.
Napster wasn’t the only software of its kind – LimeWire, WinMX, Vuze and a number of others offered the same service – but it was the most high profile. It became enemy No 1 to the music industry, which had been slow to adapt to digitisation. Metallica and Dr Dre became embroiled in heated lawsuits against the software company, alongside the US trade body RIAA. Ron Stone of Gold Mountain Entertainment, who had co-managed artists including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, called it “the single most insidious website I’ve ever seen.” Public sentiment, however, lay with Napster.
Like most teenagers at the time, especially those who grew up without much money, I didn’t think twice about undercutting multimillionaire Lars Ulrich for his share of £10.99 for a copy of Master of Puppets. The real hit was taken by the labels, which is why many artists – some for political reasons, others seeing it as a canny PR move to boost their countercultural clout – sided with Napster. Wyclef Jean said he wanted his music to be heard regardless of how, Limp Bizkit announced a Napster-sponsored free tour in summer 2000 and Public Enemy’s Chuck D saw Napster as part of a “war” that saw people clawing the power back from the industry. In a speech to the Digital Hollywood Online Entertainment Conference in May 2000, Courtney Love stated that the “real pirates” were “major label recording contracts” that trap artists in a cycle of debt, promotion and lack of ownership.
It’s fair to say that for most users it wasn’t a question of industry ethics. Napster was beloved mainly by teenagers and students with the internet at their fingertips and a curiosity that far outstripped their financial means. Faced with the option to discover anything in the world free of charge, it seemed nonsensical to spend your own money buying a handful of CDs a year based on one or two singles you’d heard on MTV.
In the end, the industry won the battle. On 3 September 2002, a court order forced Napster to liquidate its assets and it shut down. However, it lost the war by a comically large margin. The popularity of Napster ushered in a new ecosystem based on discovery and instant access – a forebear to the streaming economy we take for granted today. The financial repercussions on the business side of things are obvious, but Napster’s impact on music itself is harder to quantify, and arguably much bigger. This was the first time ever that young people were being exposed to sounds and subcultures outside their immediate surroundings and interests – in real time, without leaving the house.
As a small town teenager, I felt like that dog being shot into space on Sputnik 2. I was everywhere I shouldn’t be, poking my nose into everything that was going on from basements in Long Island to tower blocks in west London. There is absolutely no way I would have been wandering around my village in rural Wales listening to rapper Bashy, for instance, if it weren’t for P2P sharing. It’s easy to see filesharing as an act of piracy by arseholes who have no value for music, but there were also plenty of music lovers who felt as though they had been invited to every club, studio, street party and bedroom in the world.
It’s no coincidence that the most experimental periods of modern music have clustered around the emergence of services that obliterated barriers to access, and with it genre. It’s partly thanks to software such as Napster, coupled with the burgeoning social media landscape, that the 00s charts were a mess of sounds from Lil Jon to Taking Back Sunday, which in turn informed the hybrid sounds of pop pioneers such as Sophie, Grimes and Charli XCX. Similarly, the late-00s blogosphere, a pick’n’mix of free MP3s, collapsed the boundaries between indies and majors, prompting A-listers such as Beyoncé to collaborate with James Blake. The dominance of rap fused with the alternative genres emo, pop punk and metal was largely facilitated by SoundCloud, and most of 2022’s bedroom pop stars wouldn’t be where they are without TikTok. The amount of era-defining artists spotted online by fans rather than scouted by labels has its roots in the P2P era.
Besides, the music industry is set to crack $153bn in revenue by 2030 and it now costs £45 to see a mid-level indie band at Brixton Academy. So it’s hard to feel too guilty about those illicit Slipknot downloads.
‘There’s Endless Choice, but You’re Not Listening’: Fans Quitting Spotify to Save their Love of Music
Former streaming service subscribers on why they have ditched mod cons for MP3s, CDs and other DIY music formats
Meg Lethem was working at her bakery job one morning in Boston when she had an epiphany. Tasked with choosing the day’s soundtrack, she opened Spotify, then flicked and flicked, endlessly searching for something to play. Nothing was perfect for the moment. She looked some more, through playlist after playlist. An uncomfortably familiar loop, it made her realise: she hated how music was being used in her life. “That was the problem,” she says. “Using music, rather than having it be its own experience … What kind of music am I going to use to set a mood for the day? What am I going to use to enjoy my walk? I started not really liking what that meant.”
It wasn’t just passive listening, but a utilitarian approach to music that felt like a creation of the streaming environment. “I decided that having music be this tool to [create] an experience instead of an experience itself was not something I was into,” she reflects. So she cut off her Spotify service, and later, Apple Music too, to focus on making her listening more “home-based” and less of a background experience.
Such reckonings have become increasingly commonplace in recent years, as dedicated music listeners continue to grapple with the unethical economics of streaming companies, and feel the effects of engagement-obsessed, habit-forming business models on their own listening and discovery habits. In the process, they are seeking alternatives.
“With streaming, things were starting to become quite throwaway and disposable,” says Finlay Shakespeare. A Bristol-based musician and audio engineer, Shakespeare recently deleted his streaming accounts and bought a used iPod on eBay for £40. With streaming, he says: “If I didn’t gel with an album or an artist’s work at first, I tended not to go back to it.” But he realised that a lot of his all-time favourite albums were ones that grew on him over time. “Streaming was actually contributing to some degree of dismissal of new music.” Even with digital downloads, he tended to give music more time and attention.
Jared Samuel Elioseff, a multi-instrumentalist who records as Invisible Familiars and owns a studio in Cambridge, New York, also felt the streaming environment was generally hindering his musical curiosity: “I’ve been Spotify-less for two years now. My musical experiences definitely feel more dedicated and focused. It’s not as convenient. I’ll reluctantly admit that I listen to less music. Although on Spotify, I wasn’t necessarily listening to stuff. I was checking out the first 15 seconds and hitting skip. Now, I have to work for it and I like that. I can use the internet as a search tool but I’m not using it as a means to listen. I really have to seek things out and research.
“Streaming makes the listening experience much more passive,” he continues. “The word ‘streaming’ is one of those things that’s gradually assimilated into everyone’s vocabulary. Before there was streaming music, what else was streaming? This idea that you can just turn on a faucet, and out comes music. It’s something that leaves everyone to take it for granted.”
Conversations around how digital marketplaces shape listening have long focused on the unbundling of the album. For some, though, this has felt distinctly tied to streaming. Nick Krawczeniuk, a music fan and network engineer who recently moved away from streaming, felt his listening habits were being particular affected by Spotify’s “liked songs” playlist: “I found myself selecting more and more just one-off songs from an artist, whereas before I’d been inclined to save a whole album.”
And Milesisbae, a 23-year-old hip-hop artist from Richmond, Virginia, who recently cancelled all streaming subscriptions after learning how little musicians were compensated, noted something similar: “I will listen to one song 100 times in a row, but I won’t give the rest of the album a chance. Before I used streaming services, I would listen to the whole thing.”
Miles says he increasingly sees artists selling CDs and downloads at shows; indeed, for some who have deleted Spotify and Apple Music accounts, leaving streaming has meant a big-picture reimagination of their relationship to MP3s. For Shakespeare, downloads are now his primary mode of consumption: he has replaced his iPod’s hard drive with a micro SD card dock to increase capacity, and loaded it with Bandcamp purchases and ripped CDs.
For Krawczeniuk, the move away from Spotify after eight years was partly inspired by the realisation that by using open source software, a home server and a VPN on his phone, he could build something similar himself. He is now using a project called Navidrome to create a self-hosted streaming library that he can stream from any location, across various devices. “It’s a little box that sits on my desk, plugged into my router,” he explains. The server holds all his music, including Bandcamp purchases and ripped CDs: “It’s a simple music library.” He sees moving away from Big Streaming as connected to a broader movement towards small-scale tech projects and open-source services that are not resource- or energy-intensive.
Nearly everyone interviewed for this piece pointed out the need for systemic change across the music industry, from rethinking how royalties are paid by streaming services to expanding public funding for artists. Still, leaving streaming has led to a more meaningful daily experience of music.
Jeff Tobias, a musician and composer who finally pulled the plug on Spotify for good in early 2022 as the company was making headlines for its deal with podcaster Joe Rogan, has an approach to streamless listening that’s uncomplicated: records, cassettes, Bandcamp, Mixcloud. When it comes to discovery, recommendations come from friends, Bandcamp editorial, and stuff he comes across at his job working at a local record shop. “It’s almost a pre-internet style relationship with music,” he says. “I am kind of going back to thinking, ‘Oh I wonder what that album sounds like’ until I really take it upon myself to actually seek it out.”
“I like music because it’s a communal artistic practice,” he adds. “And anything that I can do that allows me to listen to music in a way that connects me with either the artists or my friends, that’s what I want to be involved with. Spotify and streaming in general just has absolutely no connection with that relationship at all.”
Wendy Eisenberg, a musician and teacher who recently deleted their account with Napster Music (formerly called Rhapsody), put it this way: “The one thing I’ve noticed since divesting is that music sounds better to me because I’ve put in the work to either locate it on a hard drive or download it from a friend’s Bandcamp or something. And every time I listen to it, even if it’s just on the way to work, I can hear the spiritual irreverence of that choice. And so it doesn’t feel like I am just receiving music from some distant tastemaker. But it seems like I have some relationship to the music, of ritual, which is where I come to it as a practising musician.
“Taking the extra step to load it on to my phone, or the extra step to flip over the tape, or put the CD on in the car, it feels like something that I’m doing, rather than something I’m receiving,” they continue. “And that sense of agency makes me a more dedicated and involved listener than the kind of passive listening-without-listening that streaming was making me do.”
Lethem reported something similar: she now listens mostly to records, Bandcamp downloads, and a little radio she put in her kitchen. “The choices are very limited. But it’s actually freeing. [With streaming] there’s endless accessibility, but you’re not really listening to anything. At least that’s what it started feeling like to me. I’m experiencing so much music, but am I really listening to any of it?”
DIY discovery: Six ways to find new music …
Online music store Bandcamp is a key revenue driver for many artists, taking a scant cut of sales compared with streaming services. For fans and listeners, the Bandcamp Daily blog is a treasure trove of independent gems and curios, and a few hours spent trawling other users’ profiles or the site’s Discover function is always sure to yield a new favourite or two.
The human algorithm
A great way to discover new music can oftentimes be just dropping a message in your favourite group chat: “What’s everyone been listening to lately?” Even if your mates have the exact same taste as you, there’s bound to be some kind of variance, and those small differences are often where you’ll pick up the kind of track that an algorithm could never show you.
Your local record store
There are few better ways to find new music than simply going down to your local record store, telling the staff member at the counter what you’re into, and asking what they recommend. If you’re shy, don’t worry: many shops feature a staff picks section to trawl through.
It’s easy to be paralysed by the repetitive cycles of streaming services. Online radio stations such as NTS, Worldwide FM, The Lot and Hope St Radio offer tailored, extraordinarily niche, and often mindblowingly good radio shows. Heavy hitters such as NTS have multiple channels and deep archives; newer, more DIY operations might only have a patchy, ultra-lo-fi stream and no tracklists. Either way, it’s a great way to hear something you have never heard before.
Musicians can often provide the best recommendations, and even if you don’t have most pop stars on speed dial, interviews are generally the next best thing. A Björk profile, for example, may lead you to wild techno experimentalists Sideproject, while a podcast chat between Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama could lead you to discover your new favourite diva.
If Spotify’s algorithm is disarmingly tailored, YouTube’s is shockingly loose. You almost never know what’s going to come next when you are listening to music on YouTube (which many people, especially among Gen Z, use as their sole streaming service). Sometimes, it will be another song by the same artist, at other times, it will be something extraordinarily unlikely, such as this 1994 performance of Fade Into You that, for about a year, was ubiquitous in many people’s algorithms. Either way, it’s a journey.
AV1 Update Reduces CPU Encoding Times By Up To 34 Percent
AV1 content creation will become very important, now with RTX 40-series GPUs supporting the new standard.
According to Phoronix, (opens in new tab) Google has released a new AOM-AV1 update - version 3.5, that drastically improves encode times when streaming, rendering, or recording from the CPU. At its best, the update can improve encoding times by up to 34%.
It is a fantastic addition to AV1's capabilities, with the encoder becoming very popular among powerful video platforms such as YouTube. In addition, we are also seeing significant support for AV1 hardware acceleration on modern discrete GPUs now, such as Intel's Arc Alchemist GPUs and, most importantly - Nvidia's RTX 40-series GPUs.
Depending on the resolution, encoding times with the new update have improved by 20% to 30%. For example, at 1080P, encode times featuring 16 threads of processing are reduced by 18% to 34%. At 4K, render times improved by 18% to 20% with 32 threads. Google could do this by adding Frame Parallel Encoding to heavily multi-threaded configurations. Google has also added several other improvements contributing to AV1's performance uplifts in other areas - specifically in real-time encoding.
In other words, CPU utilization in programs such as OBS has been reduced, primarily for systems packing 16 CPU threads. As a result, they are allowing users to use those CPU resources for other tasks or increase video quality even higher without any additional performance cost. If you are video editing and are rendering out a video in AV1, processing times will be vastly reduced if you have a CPU with 16 threads or more.
AV1's Performance Improvements Come At The Perfect Time
AV1's speed improvements couldn't have come at a better time. The video industry is aggressively moving to AV1 more than ever this year, thanks to the introduction of AV1 hardware acceleration engines and allowing content creators to use discrete GPUs to record and stream content with the AV1 codec.
AV1 came on the scene in 2018 as a newer potential alternative to the H.264 video codec. It has become a mainstream item due to its very attractive feature set; for one, it is entirely open-source, allowing anyone to use it for free. It provides up to 50% higher compression ratios than H.264. In addition, it is drastically reducing AV1 video file sizes.
This year we saw our first AV1 hardware acceleration engine in the Intel Arc A-series GPUs, providing drastic video quality improvements over its competitors, including Nvidia's legendary NVENC H.264 encoder. But now, Nvidia has finally entered the game with its RTX 40-series GPUs supporting AV1 encoding for the first time - thanks to the brand-new 8th generation NVENC engine.
It sets up the stage for AV1 to become a complete replacement for H.264, now that we have AV1 encoding present in both discrete GPUs and via software encoding on the CPU, which will make AV1 encoding very accessible to the public. The new AV1 performance update is just the cherry on top and will provide greater flexibility for users running the AV1 codec on live streams and within video editors.
Google Fiber Touts 20Gbps Download Speed in Test, Promises Eventual 100Gbps
Google Fiber test delivered 20.2Gbps downloads to exec's home in Kansas City.
Google Fiber is touting a test that delivered 20Gbps download speeds to a house in Kansas City, calling it a milestone on the path to offering 100Gbps symmetrical Internet. The company said it will also offer new multi-gigabit tiers in the near future.
"We used to get asked, 'who needs a gig?' Today it's no longer a question," Google Fiber CEO Dinni Jain wrote in a blog post yesterday. "Every major provider in the US seems to have now gotten the gigabit memo, and it's only going up from there—some providers are already offering 2, 5, 8, even 10 Gig products."
The Alphabet division recently began selling 2Gbps download speeds with 1Gbps uploads for $100, alongside its longstanding offer of symmetrical 1Gbps speeds for $70 a month. "In the coming months, we'll have announcements to dramatically expand our multi-gigabit tiers. These will be critical milestones on our journey to 100 Gig symmetrical Internet," Jain wrote.
Google Fiber is "closer than you might think" to that goal, Jain wrote. "This month, we took our testing out of the lab and into the home, starting with our first trusted tester, Nick Saporito, the Head of Commercial Strategy for GFiber." Jain provided a screenshot from a test at Saporito's home in Kansas City showing 20.2Gbps download speeds:
The screenshot doesn't show upload speeds. While Google Fiber has only hit these speeds in testing, the municipal broadband provider EPB in Chattanooga, Tennessee, recently launched a symmetrical 25Gbps service. It does cost $1,500 per month for residential customers and $12,500 a month for business customers, though.
Google Fiber to expand after years of stagnation
After years of stagnation, Google Fiber last month said it's aiming to expand its fiber-to-the-home service into five new states. As of now, the ISP offers fiber service in 12 metro areas and wireless home Internet in seven.
A lot of people hoping for faster Internet and more competition were disappointed when Google Fiber "paused" its expansion plans in October 2016. Many Americans still don't have access to fast, wired Internet or can buy it from only one provider for a high monthly fee.
Despite that, Jain expressed optimism about future improvements in US broadband competition. "We believe that many, if not most, communities across America will ultimately have at least two, if not three, fiber providers and an incumbent coax provider. We see it in communities we plan to build in, and expect investment in the industry to continue," he wrote.
Getting two or three fiber providers and a cable ISP to most communities is especially unlikely in rural parts of the US, where the federal government is planning to give ISPs tens of billions of dollars just to get one high-speed option to unserved areas.
But in communities with multiple fiber ISPs, "a fiber network alone will no longer be the differentiating factor it once was for internet providers," Jain wrote. "The unique selling points will be how that network is built to deliver symmetrical multi-gig speed at accessible pricing."
Exclusive: With Eye On Big Tech, Energy Crisis, EU Telcos Call for Shared Network Costs
Foo Yun Chee
Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE), Orange (ORAN.PA), Telefonica (TEF.MC) and 13 other European telecoms providers on Monday made their strongest push for Big Tech to share network costs, citing the energy crisis and EU climate change goals.
The call comes as the European Commission prepares to seek feedback from both sides before making a legislative proposal that could force tech companies to help pay for the roll-out of 5G and fibre cables across the 27-country European Union. read more
The sector which invests some 50 billion euros ($48.5 billion) annually in infrastructure, needs more funding and urgently, the chief executives of the companies said in a statement.
"Costs of planning and construction works are increasing. Prices for fibre optic cables, for example, have almost doubled in the first semester 2022. Similarly, the hikes in energy prices and in the prices of other inputs are also hitting the connectivity sector," they said.
"Timely action is a must: Europe missed out on many of the opportunities offered by the consumer internet. It must now swiftly build strength for the age of the metaverses," the CEO's said.
"For this to happen, and to be sustainable over time, we believe that the largest traffic generators should make a fair contribution to the sizeable costs they currently impose on European networks," they said.
Other signatories to the statement include Vodafone (VOD.L), Bouygues Telecom (BOUY.PA), KPN (KPN.AS), BT Group (BT.L), TIM Group, Telia Company (TELIA.ST), Fastweb (SCMNSF.UL) and Altice Portugal.
Europe's telecoms operators argue that U.S. tech firms such as Alphabet's Google (GOOGL.O), Meta (META.O) and Netflix (NFLX.O) account for more than half of internet traffic and should bear some of the cost of upgrading infrastructure.
Big Tech has rebuffed such requests, saying they are already investing in equipment and technologies to deliver content more efficiently.
US Candidate to Lead UN Telecoms Agency after US-Russia Race
Stephen McGrath and Jamey Keaten
Doreen Bogdan-Martin of the United States was elected Thursday to head the U.N.’s telecommunications agency, winning a U.S.-Russia face-off for the leadership of a key global agency that sets guideposts for radio, internet and television communications — ending a race that has been overshadowed by geopolitics in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Envoys from the 193 member states of the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union, selected Bogdan-Martin over lone rival Rashid Ismailov of Russia at the latest meeting in the Romanian capital of its policy-making body — which meets every four years.
Bogdan-Martin, who will begin her four-year term as ITU secretary-general on Jan. 1, is a 29-year ITU veteran and the current director of its telecommunication development bureau. Her career began in the U.S. Commerce Department.
She won the position in a 139-25 vote in which there were also a number of abstentions.
Speaking in the plenary hall in Bucharest after she was elected Thursday, Bogdan-Martin described the leadership position as “an immensely important position” and said it will be an “honor for me and my country” to lead the organization.
She is the first woman to head the ITU, and the first American in charge since the 1960s.
“I hope this day will be an inspiration for other women to follow,” she said. “We need to deliver affordable, trusted, and meaningful connectivity to all. Universal connectivity has been a dream for far too many years — let’s unite and make it real.”
Ismailov, 57, is a former deputy telecommunications minister in Russia and a former executive in telecom companies such as Eriksson, Nokia and Huawei. Before Thursday’s vote, both candidates touted expanding connectivity to the internet and the benefits of information and communication technology, or ICT, to roughly half the world that still has no access.
The ITU, whose history dates to 1865, is among the oldest U.N. specialized agencies and predates the United Nations itself by 80 years. The agency has its roots among countries that coordinated over the development of the telegraph, a forebear of the high-tech telecommunications of today.
Speaking to the ITU gathering on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called on delegates to “put humanity’s progress at the center of your discussions, especially the 2.9 billion people who still lack online access” and cited ITU’s “vital role” in expanding connectivity by the end of the decade.
The ITU’s main tasks now are setting out a “digital transformation” for the 21st century — as outgoing Secretary-General Houlin Zhao has put it — and setting out standards for telecommunications and regulating the development of technologies like 5G networks.
U.S. officials have been eager to recapture the post amid news reports and allegations from experts suggesting that Zhao, a former government official in China, was too cozy with Beijing and promotional of Chinese interests and technology standards during his two terms as ITU chief.
The race has been overshadowed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, which has put Moscow on the diplomatic defensive and led some countries to think twice about handing a top U.N. post to a former member of Russian government. Ismailov has alluded to the pressure Russia has faced — including in Geneva diplomatic circles that are home to many U.N. institutions like the ITU.
Also weighing over Ismailov’s bid have been growing concerns that Russia’s government has encouraged at worst -- or turned a blind eye, at best, to -- use of the Internet and other telecommunications networks to disrupt activities of foreign companies, governments and civilians, if not spy on or monitor people at home as well.
The United States, meanwhile, has come in for sharp criticism – notably from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who fled to Russia to escape U.S. justice – over its own surveillance and spying on civilians and government officials.
Jamey Keaten reported from Geneva.
Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow And Other Authors Publish Open Letter Protesting Publishers’ Lawsuit Against Internet Archive Library
A group of authors and other creative professionals are lending their names to an open letter protesting publishers’ lawsuit against the Internet Archive Library, characterizing it as one of a number of efforts to curb libraries’ lending of ebooks.
Authors including Neil Gaiman, Naomi Klein, and Cory Doctorow lent their names to the letter, which was organized by the public interest group Fight for the Future.
“Libraries are a fundamental collective good. We, the undersigned authors, are disheartened by the recent attacks against libraries being made in our name by trade associations such as the American Association of Publishers and the Publishers Association: undermining the traditional rights of libraries to own and preserve books, intimidating libraries with lawsuits, and smearing librarians,” the letter states.
A group of publishers sued the Internet Archive in 2020, claiming that its open library violates copyright by producing “mirror image copies of millions of unaltered in-copyright works for which it has no rights” and then distributes them “in their entirety for reading purposes to the public for free, including voluminous numbers of books that are commercially available.” They also contend that the archive’s scanning undercuts the market for e-books.
The Internet Archive says that its lending of the scanned books is akin to a traditional library. In its response to the publishers’ lawsuit, it warns of the ramifications of the litigation and claims that publishers “would like to force libraries and their patrons into a world in which books can only be accessed, never owned, and in which availability is subject to the rightsholders’ whim.”
The letter also calls for enshrining “the right of libraries to permanently own and preserve books, and to purchase these permanent copies on reasonable terms, regardless of format,” and condemns the characterization of library advocates as “mouthpieces” for big tech.
“We fear a future where libraries are reduced to a sort of Netflix or Spotify for books, from which publishers demand exorbitant licensing fees in perpetuity while unaccountable vendors force the spread of disinformation and hate for profit,” the letter states.
The litigation is in the summary judgment stage in U.S. District Court in New York.
Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons Inc and Penguin Random House are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Author Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, was originally on the list of signatories to the letter but withdrew his name on Wednesday evening. No explanation was given, but some of his works are among those cited by the publishers in their lawsuit against Internet Archive.
The American Association of Publishers’ general counsel Terrence Hart issued a statement responding to the claim that the lawsuit is an attack on libraries.
He said, “That authors and publishers support libraries is not in dispute and most certainly not at issue in the infringement case against the Internet Archive, which is not a library.
“On the contrary, the Internet Archive operates an unlicensed digital copying and distribution business that copies millions of literary works without permission and gives them away for free. This activity is unprecedented and outside any reasonable interpretation of the copyright law that grants to authors the decision as to whether, when, through whom, and on what terms to distribute their works to the public.”
He added, “If the rights holder chooses to permit the copying of print books into e-books, that is a choice they are empowered to make as to their own works. The Internet Archive robs authors and publishers of that choice.”
Until next week,
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