Book publishers say Internet Archive 'stonewalling' discovery

  • Group of publishers sued nonprofit digital archive in 2020 claiming "willful mass copyright infringement"
  • Publishers' attorney now says Internet Archive withholding key documents

(Reuters) - A group of major book publishers accused the nonprofit Internet Archive on Friday of trying to "run out the clock" on the discovery process in their Manhattan federal court dispute over the digital archive's alleged copyright infringement.

An attorney for Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons Inc and Penguin Random House said in a letter that the Archive has been "stonewalling" by refusing to produce key documents.

The Internet Archive's attorney Joseph Gratz of Durie Tangri said in an email that it already provided some of the documents and is "working diligently to collect and provide" the others.

Gratz noted the court has already set a hearing on its own request to compel the publishers to turn over evidence.

The discovery period ends Dec. 17.

The publishers sued the San Francisco-based Internet Archive last year over its free online lending of digitized books during COVID-19 lockdowns, a move they called a scheme for "willful mass copyright infringement."

The Archive responded that it "does what libraries have always done: buy, collect, preserve, and share our common culture," and is protected by the fair use doctrine.

The Friday letter, signed by the publishers' attorney Scott Zebrak of Oppenheim + Zebrak, said the evidence the Archive produced during discovery lacked important documents such as lending procedures and policies.

The publishers' attorneys, Zebrak and Elizabeth McNamara of Davis Wright Tremaine didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is Hachette Book Group Inc v. Internet Archive, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1:20-cv-04160.

For the publishers: Elizabeth McNamara of Davis Wright Tremaine, Scott Zebrak of Oppenheim + Zebrak

For the Internet Archive: Joseph Gratz of Durie Tangri, Corynne McSherry of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at