By Chris Castle
The eponymous Mr. Kahle announced with the usual huge heaping rasher of sanctimonious twaddle straight from the mollycoddle mumbletank that the so-called “National Emergency Library” was closing early. Not because Brewster Kahle did anything wrong, not because he got a Tillis-gram, no no no. It’s because there are other resources for the “Internet bound.”
Internet bound. You read that right. Yet the crepuscular “National Emergency Library” is fading into the sunset according to an Internet Archive blog post. Personally, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Today we are announcing the National Emergency Library will close on June 16th, rather than June 30th, returning to traditional controlled digital lending. We have learned that the vast majority of people use digitized books on the Internet Archive for a very short time. Even with the closure of the NEL, we will be able to serve most patrons through controlled digital lending, in part because of the good work of the non-profit HathiTrust Digital Library. HathiTrust’s new Emergency Temporary Access Service features a short-term access model that we plan to follow.
We moved up our schedule because, last Monday, four commercial publishers chose to sue Internet Archive during a global pandemic.
Yes, those heartless “commercial publishers”. You see, the saintly Mr. Kahle is not motivated by money (having already enriched himself with his snout in the Silicon Valley cash tank). Those commercial publishers were enforcing their rights. And during a pandemic, no less. Any self-reflection there? Not a bit. No thought that Mr. Kahle himself was taking advantage of a pandemic to engage in price gouging, which is just white-collar looting. As someone who grew up with both hurricanes and earthquakes, I have zero sympathy for the dude.
But this is the usual running for the exits that these people all try to hide behind. You sue them for bad behavior and they think that if they just stop doing the bad thing once they were caught and called out, you should welcome them back to humanity.
As the IA blog post takes note:
[T]his lawsuit is not just about the temporary National Emergency Library. The complaint attacks the concept of any library owning and lending digital books, challenging the very idea of what a library is in the digital world. [Not really…just Mr. Kahle’s provocation. And…cue violins…] This lawsuit stands in contrast to some academic publishers who initially expressed concerns about the NEL, but ultimately decided to work with us to provide access to people cut off from their physical schools and libraries. We hope that similar cooperation is possible here, and the publishers call off their costly assault.
Not bloody likely. When did Noah build the Ark? Before the rain, get it? You take precautions before you are forced to by circumstances.
If you get down on your knees and beg to be sued, don’t be surprised if you are. And when you are, at least have the courage to own up to the begging. But wait…I thought that there was all that stuff about fair use was his superpower? What happened to that?