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Anger at US legislation on e-books and libraries

by | Dec 23, 2021 | News

In the US the year is ending with a complicated row between the state of Maryland and publishers over the licensing of ebooks to libraries. Maryland has passed a law that requires publishers – both in the US and abroad – to make their books available to the state’s libraries at “reasonable terms” set by the state.

It is the dictating of the terms that has upset the publishing community and has united various bodies in opposition, among them the Association of American Publishers and the International Publishers Association (IPA).

The IPA says: “[We] support the Association of American Publishers’ (AAP) lawsuit challenging as unconstitutional a State of Maryland law that would impose fundamental limitations on the exercise of exclusive rights. The legislation would establish an obligation to license under terms and conditions mandated by the State, thereby impairing publishers’ contractual freedom, and undermining the international legal framework as set out in the Berne Convention and in the WIPO Copyright Treaty, to which the United States is a Contracting Party.”

The IPA’s Secretary General, José Borghino, said: “We are outraged that one US state has enacted legislation that not only undermines its own publishers and authors, but also publishers and authors from across the country and around the world. Treaty obligations clearly prevent this aggression.”

The Maryland law was passed last summer despite strong evidence-based objections from the AAP and the US Authors Guild and is currently set to go into effect in January 2022.

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