“Nothing better promotes the progress of science and the arts than access to knowledge, especially during a global pandemic. COVID-19 has highlighted how our society has changed in the past few decades and how much it needs to change in the decades to come. As schools and workplaces, law firms included, went partially or completely remote, connectivity and access to online resources became more important than ever. It is in this environment that several publishers chose to bring litigation against Internet Archive (IA) in Hachette Book Group, Inc. v. Internet Archive.
Open Library is a non-profit digital library founded by IA that offers online access to more than 1.3 million books that it has digitized into a PDF format. Operating under the Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) model, Open Library lends out only as many books as it has physical hardcopies of. Essentially, the basis of CDL is that a book must be owned to be loaned. …”
“At an event discussing disinformation and the digital divide, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon said he was committed to supporting a balanced copyright system that promotes fair use, digital lending, and the work of libraries.
“Libraries provide vital public services by making high quality resources available to everybody. And that’s true no matter what you’ve got in your bank account or your zip code,” said Wyden, noting he is the son of a librarian. “If the system is filled with draconian copyright laws and digital restrictions that make it hard for real news to be read, shared, and discussed, that particular vacuum is filled with more misinformation and lies.” …”
“The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has appointed Darcée Olson as a visiting program officer in the Advocacy & Public Policy program from April 2021 through April 2022. Olson is the copyright and scholarly communications policy director at Louisiana State University (LSU) Libraries.
As visiting program officer, Olson will write a series of briefs on topics related to digital rights, including controlled digital lending, digitization, licensing reform, and contract preemption. These briefs will include a description of the current public policy landscape, and data and evidence from practitioners at member institutions. The briefs will also identify practical political opportunities for legislation or other forms of advocacy for ARL to advance….”
The Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler recently had a very interesting article about how Amazon won’t allow the ebooks it publishes to be lent out from libraries. As someone who regularly borrows ebooks from my local libraries, I find this disappointing — especially since, as Fowler notes, Amazon really is the company that made ebooks popular. But, when it comes to libraries, Amazon won’t let libraries lend those ebooks out:
When authors sign up with a publisher, it decides how to distribute their work. With other big publishers, selling e-books and audiobooks to libraries is part of the mix — that’s why you’re able to digitally check out bestsellers like Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land.” Amazon is the only big publisher that flat-out blocks library digital collections. Search your local library’s website, and you won’t find recent e-books by Amazon authors Kaling, Dean Koontz or Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Nor will you find downloadable audiobooks for Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime,” Andy Weir’s “The Martian” and Michael Pollan’s “Caffeine.”
I’ve seen a lot of people responding to this article with anger towards Amazon, which is understandable. I do hope Amazon changes this policy. But there’s a much bigger culprit here: our broken copyright laws. In the physical world, this kind of thing isn’t a problem. If a library wants to lend out a book, it doesn’t need the publisher’s permission. It can just buy a copy and start lending it out. Fowler’s correct that a publisher does get to decide how it wants to distribute a work, but with physical books, there’s the important first sale doctrine, which lets anyone who buys a book go on and resell it. And that meant that in the past, libraries have never needed “permission” to lend out a book. They just needed to buy it.
Unfortunately, courts seem to take a dim view of the first sale doctrine when it comes to digital goods.
“As digital information becomes the primary source of information, particularly during the pandemic, sources of information can be blocked or amplified. Information can be used as a means for social mobility, economic and educational opportunities, and civic engagement. There are tools that can be used to help information flow. There are also effects afoot by big tech and biased AI to bury information. Join the conversation about the importance of using information to fight digital inequities, support democracy, and improve social justice. Specifically, learn about fighting misinformation with information through tools like CDL (controlled digital lending) & how technologist can create inclusive and empowering tools to provide access to information for disadvantaged and marginalized communities.”
“Borrowing digital books is a lifeline for people who cannot physically access a library. But a new lawsuit by four corporate publishers against the Internet Archive attempts to prevent libraries from lending digital versions of their books or digitizing their collections. The impact on our most vulnerable communities, as well as on our cultural heritage, would be severe. …”
“In 2020 scholars depended on access to digital research more than ever before. The Association saw this as a crucial moment to support controlled digital lending. We worked to increase open access in collaboration with our partners in higher education, and other research library associations, including our work on open science with the International Alliance of Research Library Associations. We stood with others encouraging publishers to open access to research to accelerate the science that ultimately led to COVID-19 vaccines, and beyond that to help our society deal with the public health consequences….”
“Authors Alliance is gathering feedback from authors about Controlled Digital Lending (“CDL”) in order to strengthen our advocacy work and better represent your interests. Several of our members have already shared their views on how CDL helps authors and researchers, and we are now asking you to add your voice by completing this short form. …”
“At the Internet Archive, we believe passionately that access to knowledge is a fundamental human right. Knowledge makes us stronger and more resilient; it provides pathways to education and the means to secure a job. But for many learners, distance, time, cost or disability pose daunting barriers to the information in physical books. By digitizing books, we unlock them for communities with limited or no access, creating a lifeline to trusted information. The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries project will bring four million books online, through purchase or digitization, while honoring the rights of creators and expanding their online reach. Working with US libraries and organizations serving people with print disabilities, Open Libraries can build the online equivalent of a great, modern public library, providing millions of free digital books to billions of people….”
“Like campuses across the country, Howard University in Washington, D.C., shut down last March when COVID-19 hit. Most of its nearly 6,000 undergraduate students have been remote learning ever since.
Without access to the physical library, demand for e-books has increased. The university recently joined the Open Libraries program to expand the digital materials that students can borrow. Through the program, users can check out a digital version of a book the library owns using controlled digital lending (CDL)….”