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CC Supports the Case for Controlled Digital Lending

Better Internet, Open Access, Open Heritage

My name is Catherine Stihler, and I’m the CEO of Creative Commons.

As a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge, we strongly support the Internet Archive in its defense of Controlled Digital Lending. Free, equitable, and open access to all knowledge stimulates creativity, is essential for research and learning, and constitutes a bedrock principle of free and democratic societies.

The Internet Archive is leading the fight for establishing permanent access to historical collections that exist in digital format. With Controlled Digital Lending, libraries like the Internet Archive can lend one copy of digitized material from their collection to one borrower for a limited time, just like they would a physical book.

Today, galleries, libraries, archives, museums and others are using new technologies and legal tools like Creative Commons licenses to make their collections more accessible. At the same time, we hear time and again that copyright remains a major barrier for these institutions in fulfilling their public interest missions — cutting off access to knowledge and limiting their ability to preserve our collective heritage. At Creative Commons, we believe copyright should encourage Controlled Digital Lending and ensure that legal mechanisms are in place to support this practice that benefits everyone.

This isn’t a position that we just came to on our own; instead, it came from working hand in hand with cultural and knowledge institutions across the world. Like Communia’s policy recommendations state: “libraries should be enabled to fulfill their mission in the digital environment.” As libraries modernize their services, we need to protect the legal frameworks that support their digital lending practices.

Permitting and protecting Controlled Digital Lending is a key way to help ensure copyright is fit for the modern age. Guided by our strong belief in better sharing, CC will continue to support the Internet Archive’s crucial efforts to ensure the public can access knowledge and culture on a global level.

[Note: 12 April 2023: We have updated this post to remove findings that are not supported by available evidence.]

Posted 20 March 2023