As people are stuck at their home due to coronavirus lockdown, Internet Archive, the American digital library, has opened the National Emergency Library. This online library hosts a collection of more than 1.4 million copyrighted e-books that you can get for free till at least June 30 or as per the US national emergency.
The Internet Archive mentioned that they have taken this step to help meet the global demand for research materials. They have also suspended the waiting list and established an emergency library. Users can borrow books from the National Emergency Library without being waiting on the list.
Earlier, the Internet Archive’s open library only allowed people to “borrow” digital copies of the books it stored, and these copies were available for a limited time. All books are now freely available to students and researchers around the world.
“This library brings together all the books from Phillips Academy Andover and Marygrove College, and much of Trent University’s collections, along with over a million other books donated from other libraries to readers worldwide that are locked out of their libraries,” wrote Internet Archive on their blog.
“This was our dream for the original Internet coming to life: the Library at everyone’s fingertips,” said Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive.
Some people have, however, raised questions about whether this move is a violation of copyright.
The Author’s Guild, an industry body that referred the Internet Archive as “violation of copyright” a few years ago and wrote in a blog, “Internet Archive has no rights whatsoever to these books, much less to give them away indiscriminately without consent of the publisher or author. We are shocked that the Internet Archive would use the COVID-19 epidemic as an excuse to push copyright law further out to the edges, and in doing so, harm authors, many of whom are already struggling.”
In addition to this, the Internet Archive also offers free access to 2.5 million downloadable public domain books.
The Internet Archive has said that authors and publishers will be affected by this global pandemic and urged people to buy these books whenever possible.