The same law firm that sued Internet Archive to end all libraries’ ownership and preservation of digital books is behind a new effort to shut down its collection of 78 RPM records.
The following statement can be attributed to Lia Holland (they/she), Campaigns and Communications Director at Fight for the Future:
“The concerted efforts of Big Content to ensure the enshittification of public libraries and shut down digital libraries like the Internet Archive could not be clearer than they are with this new lawsuit from the world’s biggest record labels.
On literally the same day that final papers were filed in Big Publishing’s suit to block libraries’ last option to own and preserve digital books, the same law firm in New York sued again. This time, they’re going after the archive’s collection of 70-120 year old scratchy 78 records, with help from Universal Music Group, Sony, and other massive names in music publishing.
It’s easy to see why these New York attorneys might want to exhaust the resources of the nonprofit Internet Archive and discourage them from continuing with their promised appeal of the lower court’s decision in its case on books: they are rightly afraid they might lose on appeal.
And, these attorneys are apparently the only people that stand to profit from the lawsuit against the Internet Archive at all. After so much vitriol and pitting of authors against each other and against access to knowledge, the AAP’s statement on the publishing suit last week revealed that not a single author would get paid with Internet Archive’s money. It’s all going to these high price copyright troll attorneys.
According to the AAP: “While the sum is confidential, AAP’s significant attorney’s fees and costs in the action since 2020 have been substantially compensated by the Monetary Judgment Payment.”
On average, each recording in the Internet Archive’s Great 78’s collection is accessed once per month by researchers. Yet in the suit, major labels claim that such access to these 70-120 year old recordings is substantially damaging. In reality, anyone looking to enjoy a song from the likes of Frank Sinatra is going to be extremely bummed by the quality should they choose the archival recording over listening for free on YouTube.
And in an interesting twist, the major labels behind this suit also happen to be investors in Spotify—a streaming service with a business model that is totally unsustainable for today’s living artists. It is absurd on its face for them to claim to investors (or to the living artists they’re supposed to represent) that one listen per month to old recordings from primarily deceased artists is cutting into royalties. It’s almost as if they’re admitting that the world they’ve built doesn’t work for musicians at all—because if it did they’d be investing their energies in the rights of today’s working artists instead of attacking libraries’ right to preserve our musical heritage.”