This week, the Association of American Publishers entered the fray over “controlled digital lending” (CDL), a practice by which a library (or other nonprofit) scans a print copy of book they have legally acquired, and then loans the scan in lieu of the printed book, using a DRM-protected one user/one copy model, while, crucially, taking the corresponding print book out of circulation while the digital copy is on loan.
In a statement, AAP officials take specific aim at a 2018 “White Paper on Controlled Digital Lending of Library Books,” coauthored by Harvard University Library’s Copyright Advisor, Kyle Courtney, and David Hansen, Associate University Librarian for Research, Collections & Scholarly Communications at Duke. The paper offers a legal justification for CDL. In addition, a position statement, signed by a number of librarians, lawyers, and scholars, characterizes the practice as “a good faith interpretation of U.S. copyright law" enabling libraries "to perform traditional lending functions using digital technology, while preserving an appropriate balance between the public benefit of such lending and the protected interests of private rights holders.”
AAP officials, however, see the practice differently: “CDL not only rationalizes what would amount to systematic infringement," the AAP statement reads, "it denigrates the incentives that copyright law provides to authors and publishers to document, write, invest in, and disseminate literary works for the benefit of the public ecosystem.”
CDL has been on the AAP's radar since at least 2017, when AAP President and CEO Maria Pallante sent an email to members asking them to review the Internet Archive’s Open Library site, as the Open Library initiative is by far the most visible, and ambitious supporter of CDL.
The AAP’s official statement this week comes after the Authors Guild earlier this month began circulating a petition against Controlled Digital Lending, and a missive from the U.K.-based Society of Authors actually threatened legal action against the Internet Archive's Open Library project.
Notably, a more recent analysis, written by attorney Jonathan Band and published on the Library Copyright Alliance web site, argues that libraries must revisit the legal foundation of CDL in light of the recent appeals court decision in Capitol Record vs. Redigi. While Band acknowledges that CDL as practiced by libraries and other nonprofit archives differs in significant ways from ReDigi, an upstart firm that sought to create a commercial resale market for iTunes files, “libraries,” he concluded, “cannot ignore the long shadow cast by the [ReDigi] decision.”
One tech website, Extreme Tech, has an interesting take on the opposition to controlled digital lending: “Ultimately, what the Authors Guild is demonstrating is its fundamental hostility to the idea of a library itself.”
Via The San Antonio Express-News, Laura Cole, director of the digital-focused BiblioTech library in Bexar County, offers her take on the library e-book market. "The bottom line of this fledgling industry is that it is still searching to find its harmonious balance between affordability for the library and suitable profit margin for those providing the content: authors, publishers, and content aggregators."
And from Wired, a short piece on an artist who has collected images of the hands of data entry workers who flipped the pages for Google's book scanning machines.
Two stories in the news this week remind us of how tough it can be for libraries to recover from budget cuts. Via the Associated Press, a report that Mississippi public libraries are still feeling the sting of state budget cuts that happened years ago.
And Penn Live reports that state library funding in Pennsylvania is set to remain flat for a fifth straight year under Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed 2019 budget, at $54.5 million—but that's some 30% off of the the more than $75 million in state funding libraries received two decades go.
The annual Windham-Campbell Prizes will announce the 2019 recipients on Wednesday, March 13 at a live event in London to be hosted by Damian Barr, host of the Literary Salon, and author of Maggie & Me and the forthcoming You Will Be Safe Here. The prize, established in 2013, is one of the literary world's richest, awarding $165,000 each to eight writers in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. Based at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the awards were established to “call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.” Visit the Windham-Campbell website for more information, or to watch a live stream of the event.
From American Libraries, another ALA Midwinter Meeting wrap-up.
Interesting piece in The New York Times on how a mayor’s effort to play down Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism backfired.
And, from The New Yorker, Eric Alterman’s thought-provoking look at “the decline of historical thinking”
Via Gary Price at InfoDocket, pioneering institutional repository arXiv has posted comments on its blog regarding the compliance requirements of the controversial Plan S open access proposal in Europe. "We wholeheartedly support a vision of a scholarly publishing system that provides immediate, free, and largely unrestricted use and re-use of scholarly publications."
Also from The New York Times, a look at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts dance collection, "the largest, most eclectic, and most enterprising collection of dance materials anywhere."
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a look at Dish!, a monthly cookbook club that focuses more on the book than the food—although a staff member does make one or two dishes from the selected book.
The Library of Congress announced this week that it has received a $540,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to evaluate the state of physical book collections in American research libraries, and to "guide their archive retention and preservation decisions."