From Publisher’s Weekly:
In a release this week, an alliance of author, publisher, and copyright industry advocacy groups launched Protect the Creative Economy Coalition, a coalition designed to combat a growing number of new library e-book bills surfacing in state legislatures in the opening weeks of 2023.
“The problem is not theoretical,” AAP president and CEO Maria Pallante said in a statement. “The state bills would subject authors and publishing houses of all sizes to serious liabilities and financial penalties for exercising the very rights that the Copyright Act so clearly affords them—the definition of a constitutional conflict. Moreover, they would forge a concerning precedent for downstream appropriation of IP investments by actors well beyond the states, especially as to already precarious digital copies. We stand by our time-tested copyright system, and we are deeply dubious of assertions that devaluing the Nation’s creative output is in the public interest.”
The coalition effort comes as a host of new library e-book bills have been introduced in several states in 2023, and a year after a federal judge in February of 2022 struck down Maryland’s groundbreaking library e-book law, finding that the bill was likely preempted by the federal Copyright Act.
“These bills are unconstitutional and for good reason. They target the federal copyright system that authors depend on to earning a living,” said Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild. “By forcing pricing limits and other restrictions on not just publishers but thousands of self-published authors, the bills exhibit total disregard of the reality that authors in the commercial marketplace have to earn enough money to stay in the profession. The Authors Guild is fully committed to libraries having access to all books and in all formats to meet their communities’ needs. We regularly lobby for increases in library funding. It is unfair to put the cost of libraries’ needs on authors.”
Link to the rest at Publisher’s Weekly
PG says this is a battle that could backfire on Big Publishing.
PG thinks the publishers have a good constitutional case (assuming that they’re properly positioned to be speaking on behalf of authors and not their own commercial interest).
However, libraries, particularly public libraries are in the company of Mom and apple pie in the view of a great many citizens.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, here it is:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.