Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library could put writers’ incomes at risk

06 April 2020

The Internet Archive has announced the creation of the National Emergency Library, which would see millions of unlawfully digitised ebooks lent out for free across the globe.

In February 2019, we encouraged members to sign the Society of Authors’ letter criticising the Internet Archive and calling for it to put a stop to the unlawful scanning of ebooks available in the UK.

Internet Archive has recently announced the creation of the National Emergency Library in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which would allow free unlimited lending of these unlawfully digitized ebooks, potentially putting authors’ right to fair remuneration for their work at risk in the process.

A number of organisations have published comments criticising these actions, including the Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild and the Society of Authors; which has urged UK authors who find their works on the Internet Archive to get in touch with them. ALCS similarly condemns the Internet Archive’s actions and advises any members whose work has been published on this site to contact the Society of Authors.

ALCS will be closely monitoring this situation and will provide members with updates as and when they are released.


We believe it is essential to respect copyright and that writers have the right to fair remuneration for the use of their work. Writers’ incomes were already in decline, and the current crisis has had a further negative impact on the incomes of many creatives across the world. If you are interested in learning more about how copyright protects the work of all creators, or helping teach the next generation of creators about it, we have put together a number of copyright education resources at alcs.co.uk/copyright-education.