The Association of American Publishers (AAP), the national trade association for the U.S. publishing industry, has filed suit against the Maryland Attorney General seeking to enjoin and overturn an unconstitutional Maryland law that directly conflicts with the federal Copyright Act by forcing any publisher, domestic and foreign, to make their literary works available to Maryland public libraries in electronic book and audiobook formats according to timing, pricing, and other terms mandated by the state under threat of penalty.
Slated to take effect on January 1st, 2022, the Maryland law gives libraries unprecedented control over basic copyright transactions that are clearly reserved to those who write, develop, invest in, distribute, and make publicly available the invaluable array of novels, biographies, historical and political works, poetry, scholarship, and course materials that are the mission of publishing, and which together fuel entertainment, human empowerment, and scientific progress on a global basis. In seeking to regulate books, Maryland disregarded the testimony of publishers and authors, established law, and market facts.
The complaint, filed in federal court in Maryland, argues that the Maryland law is preempted by the United States Copyright Act, unconstitutionally interferes with interstate commerce, and violates the Constitution’s Due Process clause by mandating vague and unspecified licensing requirements.
There is no justification for Maryland’s intrusion into the publishing industry, even if were not preempted. Although print remains an extremely popular format among readers of all ages, libraries today also have access to a dizzying number of titles in ebook and audiobook formats, just as retail channels do. Publishers must, of course, make balancing decisions about the timing, pricing, and formats of their books, in order to ensure a return on their investments and to achieve the long-term potential value of any particular work. These incalculable decisions are the means by which all content businesses compete, endure, and serve the public interest, whether they invest in books, music, movies, or newspapers. Moreover, the legislation is redundant, as publishing houses have long been on the front lines of supporting libraries, from their earliest incarnations to the age of the Internet.
The authority of the federal Copyright Act is the basis of all content-driven businesses, and has made America’s core copyright industries, including publishing, key drivers of the national economy, employing 5.7 million workers and contributing an annual $1.5 trillion to the U.S. GDP.
For these reasons, some twenty-five years ago, the United States and hundreds of other countries addressed copyright interests arising in the context of the digital environment through a pair of binding instruments known as the WIPO Internet Treaties. These treaties, which the United States duly affirmed through a combination of existing law and the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, make clear that the copyright owner has the exclusive right to authorize the digital dissemination or transmission of a creative work, including in new and innovative formats and irrespective of whether the customer is in a bookstore, library, or the comfort of their own home. Intergovernmental leaders paved the way for the very innovations that led to ebooks and audiobooks, and which will, no doubt, lead to future exciting formats made possible by a free and ever-evolving marketplace.
The full complaint can be found here.Click here to read the original press release.
Copyrights/Data Integrity/Ethical issues
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