Libraries are lifestreams for authors

The District Court’s order in Hachette v. Internet Archive was released yesterday (August 14). It marks a sad moment when publishers’ attacks on libraries have prevailed over common sense, the public interest, and the best interests of authors and readers alike.

Who won? Publishers. How often do publishers’ economic wins correlate to authors’ economic benefit? Well, there’s a reason that the most well-heeled authors use agents and lawyers in their negotiations with publishers. That relationship is adversarial, because publishers are inherently profiting off of authors and readers.

In supporting readers, reading, and reading culture, libraries are writers’ best friends — nonprofit entities whose interests lie in fostering the culture and habits on which writers and readers alike depend.

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations is defending against similar attacks from rightsholders and profit-seeking organizations:

Librarians and educators want Canadian students and authors to succeed. Libraries purchase access to content including books, periodicals, and data and pay publishers hundreds of millions of dollars each year to provide students with digital access to these works. Libraries and librarians support education in colleges and universities across Canada and they support authors through their purchases. That important message is being drowned out by the barrage of accusations from author groups and publisher organizations that libraries are threatening the economic viability of authors. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those hundreds of millions of dollars in access and subscription fees, paid by libraries, should be going to authors of the licensed works

“Don’t Blame Copyright for Declining Revenue. It Won’t Help Authors.” — statement by the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (h/t Brandon Butler)

Make a buck from services you offer to writers — publicity, editing, printing. Seems like reasonable behavior for publishers to engage in. But chewing off the hand of your customers — the libraries that are the market for so much of what publishers sell — that’s the opposite of reasonable.

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