Maryland state attorneys have declined to appeal a preliminary injunction issued last month that bars the state’s library e-book law from being enforced. This week, the court ordered the state to show cause as to why a permanent injunction should not be issued.
In a March 28 letter order, Judge Deborah L. Boardman gave Maryland state attorneys until April 11 to disclose whether “any law or evidence not previously presented to the Court prevents the issuance of a permanent injunction.” The Association of American Publishers, plaintiffs in the case, will then have until April 25 to respond. The order comes after Boardman temporarily blocked the law from being enforced on February 16, finding the state law to be preempted by the federal Copyright Act.
"Libraries face unique challenges as they sit at the intersection of public service and the private marketplace in an evolving society that is increasingly reliant on digital media," the judge concluded. "Striking the balance between the critical functions of libraries and the importance of preserving the exclusive rights of copyright holders, however, is squarely in the province of Congress and not this court or a state legislature."
First introduced in January 2021, the Maryland library e-book law would have required any publisher offering to license "an electronic literary product" to consumers in the state to also offer to license the content to public libraries on “reasonable” terms.
At press time, it is unclear whether Maryland attorneys will continue to fight for the law, although a motion to dismiss the AAP’s case is still pending. In a brief response to Boardman's injunction, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said only that the state would "continue to pursue fair treatment for Maryland public libraries."