March 24 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday ruled that an online library operated by the nonprofit organization Internet Archive had infringed the copyrights of four major U.S. publishers by lending out digitally scanned copies of the books.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in Manhattan came in a closely-watched lawsuit that tested the ability of the Internet Archive to lend out the works of writers and publishers that remained protected by U.S. copyright laws for free.
The San Francisco-based non-profit over the past decade has scanned millions of print books and lent out the resulted digital copies for free. While many are in the public domain, 3.6 million are protected by valid copyrights.
That includes 33,000 titles belonging to the four publishers, Lagardere SCA's (LAGA.PA) Hachette Book Group, News Corp's (NWSA.O) HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons Inc(WLY.N) and Bertelsmann SE & Co's (BTGGg.F) Penguin Random House.
They sued in 2020 over 127 books, after the Internet Archive expanded lending with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when brick-and-mortar libraries were forced to close, by lifting limits on how many people could borrow a book at a time.