Learn more about Peltz-Steele v. UMass Faculty Federation at Court Listener (complaint) and the Liberty Justice Center. The case is now on appeal in the First Circuit as no. 22-1466 (PACER paywall). Please direct media inquiries to Kristen Williamson.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Publishers crush state effort to ensure that public libraries have reasonable access to e-books

Cartridge People CC BY 2.0 via Flickr
A Maryland law requiring the licensing of electronic books to public libraries on reasonable terms is preempted by federal copyright law, a federal court ruled in June.

A Maryland statute enacted in 2021 provided that e-book publishers "shall offer to license the electronic literary product to public libraries in the State on reasonable terms that would enable public libraries to provide library users with access to the electronic literary product."

The law meant to answer publishers who have been employing oppressive tactics to milk money from public libraries trying to meet patron demand for electronic books. I wrote some about this problem in April 2021.

Alas, the federal court ruled that federal copyright law occupies the field to the exclusion of Maryland legislators' worthy intentions. The court found it unnecessary, therefore, to consider publisher complainants' further claims, such as dormant Commerce Clause.

I'll add this to my list of lost causes in a corporate-captured Congress.

The case is Association of American Publishers, Inc. v. Frosh (D. Md. June 13, 2022), Judge Deborah L. Boardman presiding.

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