Lawyers for a group of plaintiff publishers are claiming that the Internet Archive is withholding documents from discovery in a closely-watched copyright lawsuit over the scanning and lending of print library books.

In a November 19 letter, lawyers for the plaintiff publishers outlined seven “categories” of requested documents that are allegedly yet to be turned over by the Internet Archive, and accused the IA of “stonewalling” and “hoping to run out the clock” on discovery. Initial discovery in the case is due to close mid-December.

The publishers are asking for a pre-motion Conference before seeking an order to compel the IA to turn over the requested materials—even though a conference has already been scheduled for December 2 before magistrate judge Ona T. Wang to discuss discovery issues.

“Discovery has proceeded slowly, in large part because IA delayed a substantial portion of its document production until toward the end of the extended deadline for document discovery,” the publishers tell the court, accusing the IA of “prejudicing Plaintiffs in depositions and case development.”

The publishers’ request comes after IA lawyers have twice alleged that the plaintiff publishers are not complying with their discovery requests, most recently in an October 29 letter in which IA lawyers told the court that the AAP and the plaintiff publishers were improperly asserting various claims of privilege to withhold internal AAP communications and documents from the defense.

The discovery dispute is the latest twist (and now the third discovery dispute) in the high profile copyright infringement lawsuit, first filed in June of 2020 by Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House, and coordinated by the AAP.

The suit alleges that the Internet Archive’s program to scan and lend print editions of library books under an untested legal theory known as controlled digital lending is copyright infringement on a massive scale. IA lawyers counter that its program respects the rights of copyright holders and that the scanning and lending of library books is protected by fair use.

As of press time, a pre-motion conference remains on the docket for December 2. It is unclear if a separate conference will be scheduled to address the publishers' complaints.