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Copyright Blog

Association of American Publishers Prevails in Federal Court

The AAP Challenged a State Law That Would Force Them to Sell eBooks to Libraries.

In June, a federal district judge handed a victory to the Association of American Publishers.

In recent months, several state legislatures have proposed or approved measures directing publishers that license digital literary works to consumers to also make that content available to public libraries, usually with a stipulation about making the terms of such agreements reasonable. The Association of American Publishers brought suit against the State in Maryland, claiming that the law was interfering with private business and that it was superseded by federal law in the Copyright Act.

The judge agreed, issuing an opinion (read more here) that the law was "unconstitutional and unenforceable." She indicated that while there may be merit to the idea of assisting and protecting libraries as more and more content becomes digital, Congress was the proper venue for pursuing that remedy.

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Other states that have proposed similar legislation include Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, Tennessee, and Missouri. New York's version of the bill was considered and unanimously approved, but it was vetoed by the governor.

The decision in the Maryland case will likely impact the consideration and passage of similar laws in states where they are still pending.

Although this phenomenon is somewhat afield from our blog's usual focus on cases involving copyright and education, copyright issues affecting public libraries are undoubtedly of interest to educational institutions as well. We will provide updates on this situation as they become available.