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Internet Archive Ignores DMCA Notices

the Internet Archive is burning its positive reputation to the ground

Edit: The first version of the title of this post was considerably more incendiary than intended. I changed the title about 15 seconds after publishing this post, and I sincerely hope you did not see my mistake.

When Brewster Kahle finally released a public statement on the controversy surrounding the Internet Archive’s pirate site, the Open Library, Kahle  didn’t say the Open Library was shutting down, and he didn’t apologize, but he did make the claim that the IA promptly responded to DMCA notices:

When a rights holder wants a work that was uploaded by a user taken down, a well known “Notice and Takedown” procedure is in place. The Internet Archive takes prompt action and follows the procedure, generally resulting in the work being taken down.

As I pointed out a month ago, the IA had taken 3 weeks to not respond to a takedown notice, so their response could not possibly be described as prompt.

But based on the experiences Victoria Strauss recounted today I would say that "glacial " would be a better term.

Victoria Strauss just published a post over at Writer Beware where she lays out the steps she took to try to get one of her books removed from the Open Library pirate site.

Sending a DMCA notice didn’t work, but making a legal threat on the IA’s blog did:

One of the questions that has concerned SFWA and other writers' groups is how the IA responds to DMCA notices. So on January 1, I sent one for Passion Blue.

No response. On January 9, I sent another.

Still nothing. On January 25, I sent a third DMCA notice.


Well, this was annoying, especially since, in a January 24 post to the Internet Archive blog, IA founder Brewster Kahle promised "prompt action" on DMCA requests. But hey, maybe the IA folks were just swamped with takedown notices and were working through a big backlog. I resolved to be patient.

Then, on January 27, author Virginia Anderson alerted me to her blog post about her experience with Open Library and the IA. Like me, she’d found one of her books available, had sent DMCA notices, and had heard nothing back. Frustrated, she posted a comment on the IA blog, indicating that she’d be seeking legal advice if she didn’t get a reply (the IA blog is moderated, and Ms. Anderson’s comment never appeared publicly). Within 36 hours, the IA responded in email, and the digitized versions of her book were taken down.

Well, I thought, I can do that. So on January 28, I hopped on over to the IA blog and posted this comment:


I made a screenshot because I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be let through, and I was right. However, within 24 hours I got an email identical to the one Virginia Anderson received, ostensibly in response to my third DMCA notice.

On checking Open Library, I found not just that Passion Blue was gone, but the other three books had been taken down as well. (The encrypted DAISY versions are still available, but I have no quarrel with that; many publishing contracts allow publishers to grant rights to non-profit organizations that serve the visually impaired, without compensation to the author).

Have you had any luck getting your books removed from that pirate site?


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Steven L. February 22, 2018 um 5:08 pm

>I sincerely hope you did not see my mistake

*Looks up at address bar*


Nate Hoffelder February 22, 2018 um 5:12 pm

you knwo, I was thinking I was stuck with the domain, but I can fix that, too

Bill Peschel February 22, 2018 um 6:28 pm

Just FYI, but my Feedly post shows the new headline, so looks like you caught it in time.

Nate Hoffelder February 22, 2018 um 7:04 pm

Thanks for the confirmation, Bill.

I also got it before Twitter and FB saw the old headline, which is great.

Sam M. February 23, 2018 um 7:58 am

If all the Internet Archive was doing is hosting illegal content, they would be a pirate site. Since only a small part is illegal, I would give them the benefit of the doubt and say that it is inadvertent.

I am sure that most of their process is automated. Complying with all DMCA notices must be time consuming, especially given that not all are valid.

Perhaps they need to review their process for complying with DMCA notices. The first thing they should do is to contact the original web site to ask for the status of notices they received.

I’m sure a reasonable process that helps them more quickly evaluate notices received can be developed.

The IA does provide a valuable service and it’s unfair to describe them as a pirate site simply because all authors don’t have total control of it.

Gallant March 5, 2018 um 4:26 pm

scraping websites without asking permission = piracy
posting authors work without permission = piracy
lying (do some research on the ia, its not new…and doubtful that they ever remove anything from their servers) about having any genuine interest in respecting dmca’s .. = probably pirate"ish"

..if it looks like a duck.

Nate Hoffelder March 5, 2018 um 5:22 pm

I don’t think the Wayback machine is relevant here. Anyone who objects to their website being scraped can block the scraping – it’s not that hard.

The thing about the Open Library is that Kahle isn’t listening, so it’s almost impossible to stop the piracy.

That removes the last fig leaf excusing his behavior.

Gallant March 5, 2018 um 6:36 pm

the point i was making is that its a pattern for the IA in respect to authors' rights. A website publisher is just as much a creator as an author and we should all have each other’s backs. There is a great deal of historical dialog out there in webmaster forums that make it clear the "blocking" procedures are ineffective and the subsequent attempts to remove after the fact end in frustration. That is if you are even aware that they are doing it in the first place. At the end of the day, they don’t seem to play fair with anyone or have much respect period. Im not at all supervised that they take the same approach to books. Have you seen what they do with the "physical copies" they have that give them some guise of legal cover as a "library"

Dilsia February 23, 2018 um 9:51 am

I’ve downloaded from the Internet Archive and the books are of the worst quality I’ve ever found. They’re a poor qualitu scans not worth downloading.

Chris Meadows February 23, 2018 um 9:17 pm

Unless, of course, it’s a book you just can’t get electronically anywhere else. Then even a poor-quality scan is better than no ebook at all.

Reader February 23, 2018 um 9:42 pm

I have also gotten some books from IA that were not otherwise available electronically. If the EPUB or MOBI format is poor quality, as it often is with IA, I have gone with a PDF. At least you see everything, and with a 9.7″ Kindle DX, reading the PDF isn’t a problem.

If the PDF isn’t that readable- darker background can be a problem- TXT-DOC-PDF renders it readable. Being able to fiddle with font type and size in DOC before rendering into PDF also improves readability.

eBook Piracy – How to Respond If Someone Steals Your eBook Online | The Digital Reader March 29, 2020 um 1:09 am

[…] luck with getting them to take action; the IA has a history of ignoring complaints. In fact, they no longer tell you how to file DMCA notices for The Open […]

Ed Smith March 31, 2020 um 3:54 pm

RE: Internet Archive: These people are CRIMINALS.

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