Tennessee and Missouri are the latest states to introduce library e-book laws, with new measures introduced at the end of January. Meanwhile, despite continued opposition from the Association of American Publishers, a library e-book bill recently introduced in Illinois has unanimously passed out of the Committee on Consumer Protection and is now headed to the General Assembly.
The bills in Tennessee and Missouri, which have bipartisan support, are similar to e-book bills already passed or advancing in other states. In Missouri, the bill requires publishers that offer e-book licenses to the public to also offer to license to libraries on "reasonably similar terms as those offered to the public." In Tennessee, the bill requires an offer to libraries on "reasonable" terms.
Library e-book bills are now pending in five state legislatures, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, Tennessee, and Missouri, and such bills have already passed unanimously in Maryland and New York.
The AAP is currently challenging the Maryland Act in federal court, however, and supporters in New York are considering next steps after their bill was vetoed in late December by Governor Kathy Hochul, who cited the legal concerns raised by the lawsuit in Maryland.
The bills also come as the legal battle in Maryland heats up. After a three-hour hearing on February 7, a federal judge is expected to decide soon on the AAP's motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the law. AAP lawyers argue such library e-book bills are unconstitutional because they infringe on the exclusive rights granted to copyright holders under federal law. Defenders of the laws insist the measures do not run afoul of copyright, but merely provide for oversight of potentially unfair or discriminatory license terms.