Creators and Publishers Unite in Opposition to Open Library

Writers' Union
Press Release

Unauthorized “Controlled Digital Lending” is a violation of authors’ rights.

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) has joined with 36 other creator, publisher, and agent groups in an international movement against the unauthorized practice of “controlled digital lending.” The coalition is appealing to libraries to stop allowing the San Francisco-based Internet Archive to scan and lend copyright-protected work through its Open Library site.

An appeal letter and FAQ are hosted on the website of the US-based National Writers Union, who organized the coalition.

The letter states:
“Under [controlled digital lending] CDL, printed books are being scanned and distributed online to readers worldwide by the Internet Archive and U.S. and Canadian libraries. CDL is not comparable to lending of physical books by libraries. CDL is not “fair use” as defined in U.S. copyright law…”
Since Open Library’s practices were begun with no consultation or approval from the rights-holder community, the letter ends with a call for respectful discussion between libraries and copyright-holders.

“We appeal for a dialogue among writers, authors, publishers, and librarians on how to enable and create the digital libraries we all want, in ways that fully respect authors’ rights.”

Last month, TWUC called out Open Library for its unauthorized lending practice.

“This is an outrageous trespass on the rights of authors,” said TWUC Chair, Eric Enno Tamm. “The Writers’ Union is calling on the Internet Archive to stop this practice immediately, and to respect the licence terms for works in library collections.”

Canada’s authors are encouraged to sign an open letter to the Internet Archive at the US Authors Guild website here. E-mails from these letters are sent directly to the Internet Archive’s US offices.

Please read the coalition’s frequently asked questions page for more information on this issue.


The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing approximately 2100 professional authors of books. The Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers.  

For additional information:
John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada
416.703.8982 Ext. 221