May 16, 2022

Court Rules in Favor of Publishers in Maryland E-Book Lawsuit, Preliminary Injunction Granted

We will update this post with reactions, media coverage, and other documents as they become available.

The lawsuit was filed on December 9, 2021, (Association of American Publishers (AAP) vs. Brian E. Frosh, in His Official Capacity  Attorney General of the State of Maryland)

Judge Deborah Boardman‘s complete memorandum opinion (38 pages; PDF) is available here. 
The court order granting the preliminary injunction is also available.

From the Opinion

Libraries serve many critical functions in our democracy. They serve as a repository of knowledge-both old and new and ensure access to that knowledge does not depend on wealth or ability. They also play a special role in documenting society’s evolution. Congress has underscored the significance of libraries and has accorded them a privileged status on at least one occasion, legislating an exception to the Copyright Act’s regime of exclusive rights that permits libraries to reproduce copyrighted material so it may be preserved in the public record across generations. See 17 U.S.C. § 108. 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. 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.

Direct to Complete Memorandum Opinion (38 pages; PDF)

A statement from the AAP is available here.

From the Statement

“We also thank the court for moving decisively to protect the integrity of the exclusive rights that vest with authors, for preserving a uniform and effective federal Copyright Act, and for recognizing the long-term criticality of a vibrant and independent publishing industry in society.

Direct to Completer Statement

This infoDOCKET post includes links to media coverage, the complete court docket, and statements.

—-UPDATES—

UPDATE: Statement From Office of the Attorney General, State of Maryland

Our office is currently reviewing the decision to determine next steps. We think publishers should not be able to unfairly take advantage of Maryland public libraries. We will continue to pursue fair treatment for Maryland public libraries.

UPDATE 2: Statement From ALA

ALA unequivocally supports the Maryland law and stands by the Attorney General’s defense of Maryland libraries’ right to buy licenses for digital content on reasonable terms. We look forward to the next steps in this court proceeding toward the goal of equitable library access to digital books and fairness for all stakeholders in the publishing ecosystem.

As always, libraries and library associations are willing and ready for discussions with rights holders—the publishers—and hope discussions may advance, irrespective of the legal directions or policy context.

Read the Complete Statement

UPDATE 3: Copyright Alliance Statement on Maryland Court Granting Preliminary Injunction to Publishers in eBook Licensing Case (via CA)

UPDATE 4: Statement From Readers First

UPDATE 5 (March 2, 2022): Maryland Library Association Response to Decision by U.S. District Court of Maryland’s Ruling on eBook Legislation (via Readers First)

Media Coverage: Court Blocks Maryland’s Library E-book Law (by Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly)

Media Coverage: Publishers Win Preliminary Injunction in Library E-Book Fight (via Bloomberg Law)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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