It's now been more than four months since a federal judge found the Internet Archive liable for copyright infringement for its program to scan and lend library books. But after a court order late last week, the parties finally appear headed toward the judgment phase of the litigation.
Since the verdict, the parties have (per the court's order) been conferring over the contours an "appropriate procedure to determine the judgment to be entered in the case." And after numerous extensions through the spring and summer, judge John G. Koeltl appears to have run out of patience. In a July 28 order, Koeltl gave the parties until August 11 to deliver their recommendations, adding "no more extensions."
In their last request for an extension the parties reported they were "very close" to "finalizing the terms of a consent judgment, subject to appeal" and said they expected to be able to submit the proposal "in a week or so."
In his emphatic March 24 opinion, Koeltl found the Internet Archive infringed the copyrights of four plaintiff publishers by scanning and lending their books under a legally contested practice known as CDL (controlled digital lending). “At bottom, IA’s fair use defense rests on the notion that lawfully acquiring a copyrighted print book entitles the recipient to make an unauthorized copy and distribute it in place of the print book, so long as it does not simultaneously lend the print book,” Koeltl held in his decision. “But no case or legal principle supports that notion. Every authority points the other direction.”
In court filings, the publishers have asked for damages and injunctive relief, including the destruction of potentially infringing scans. Lawyers for the Internet Archive have argued that statutory damages should be remitted per section 504 of the Copyright Act, which offers some relief where the infringer is a “nonprofit educational institution, library, or archives,” and the infringers “believed and had reasonable grounds for believing” that its use of the work was fair use.
While the case appears ready to head to a new phase, Internet Archive officials have also vowed to appeal Koeltl's decision.