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An estimated 2-minute read

You Big Bullies!!! RIP library.nu?

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Rest in Peace, Library.nu.

For over a fortnight now, faithful users of library.nu have tried various means of accessing the website. There were frantic calls for help from across the globe to figure out what had gone wrong. Discussions on various fora centred around an automatic response from the site’s admin saying that it is shutting down due to ‘legal bullshit’. Tears were shed. No, really.

Have you ever used it? Know what the site was about? As the Huffington Post quotes, the Association of American Publishers in Washington, D.C. calls library.nu "one of the largest pirate web-based businesses in the world." Doesn't sound too good, does it? For hundreds of thousands of internet users, it was an information Mecca. But that doesn't really count.

A set of seventeen of the largest publishing houses across UK, USA and Germany sued together (When else have you ever see this huge bunch of competitors come together?) to have an injunction passed to stop this terrible, terrible site from functioning. It’s in infringement of every imaginable copyright law: over 400,000 books, mostly academic, provided for free! Imagine the money that they’re losing out on. Obviously, the publishers won.

Will they make that money that they united to save? Hell, no! I can no longer download a copy of Alexandre Kiss’ exposition on International Environmental Law but does that mean I will buy it? I shall not buy it simply because I cannot afford to. Most of those using library.nu loved it because it provided access to material that they otherwise would not be able to read. Books that could not be found in the libraries they have access to; books that cost thousands of rupees more than a college student’s monthly budget.

And that, obviously, is wrong. To give people a chance to read and learn what they ordinarily could not access is wrong; because academic material is meant for those who can afford it or those who are lucky to have libraries nearby that can afford it. The focus of academia is not to enlighten or engender discourse; it’s to preserve copyright laws.

Library.nu was my introduction to several things that I now hold dear. Be it Greek tragedies, international law, caste or Nussbaum, library.nu was where it all started. And now that it’s gone, I feel a void inside me.

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