“COVID-19 and Libraries: E-Books and Intellectual Property Issues” (New Report from the Congressional Research Service)
A new “Legal Sidebar” report from the Congressional Research Service.
From the Introduction:
With many states issuing stay-at-home orders, and many public library buildings closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the public looking for reading material have increasingly turned to ebooks. Yet even before the pandemic, libraries faced challenges in meeting patron demand for e-books.
For example, in November 2019 the Washington Post reported months-long wait times to borrow high demand e-books from major public libraries. The legal framework for lending physical books is different than that for e-books. While a library may generally lend a physical copy of a book in any manner it chooses, under current law a library may only lend an e-book in the manner approved by the copyright holder (usually the publisher). Thus, for example, the publisher may limit the length of time during which the library may lend the e-book, the number of times the e-book may be checked out, or both. These limitations may restrict a library’s ability to meet patron demand.
This Sidebar explains how copyright law governs e-book lending; describes how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected e-book accessibility; and outlines some possible legal approaches Congress may consider.
Direct to Full Text Report (5 pages; PDF)
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.