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Old 06-20-2022, 08:14 AM   #1
astrangerhere
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Maryland Ebook Licensing Law Ruled Unconstitutional

From Rueters (emphasis added):

Maryland ebook licensing law is unconstitutional, U.S. court rules

Quote:
A federal court in Baltimore ruled Monday that a Maryland law requiring book publishers to offer public libraries reasonable licenses to ebooks and digital audiobooks is unconstitutional.

In a victory for the Association of American Publishers, U.S. District Judge Deborah Boardman said that the law violates publishers' protections under the federal Copyright Act.

AAP, the book publishing industry's national trade group, won an order pausing the law in February. Boardman said at the time that the first-of-its-kind statute likely interfered with the publishers' right to decide how to distribute their works.

Legislatures in states including Massachusetts, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri and Rhode Island have been considering laws similar to Maryland's. AAP President Maria Pallante said in a Monday statement that the decision and New York Governor Kathy Hochul's veto of a similar bill last year because of constitutional concerns "sends a two-fold message to other legislatures being similarly lobbied: there is nothing judicious about undermining authors or the viability of an independent publishing industry.”

The Maryland attorney general's office declined to comment.
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Old 06-20-2022, 10:16 AM   #2
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I agree with the ruling because it unfairly distributes works without permission from the authors and publishers. On the other hand, they only have themselves to blame when their works are pirated because they restrict access or place onerous conditions on said access.
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Old 06-20-2022, 10:44 AM   #3
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Copyright is about having 100% control of copying, thus selling. There is zero obligation on the rights holder to make it available at all, or in particular formats.

Copyright does need reformed, because an ebook is trivial now to also sell and distribute as the paper book production involves electronic files. Audio books are not trivial and a publisher might not have the rights. Like TV or cinema or a stage play it's a differnent think altogether to ebooks and paper books.

It's up to rights holders how to sell or licence media of any kind to a Library, not up to a country, or state or library. The Archive Org and Amazon are little better than a pirate on their loans as they mostly don't buy a library copy. Libraries ought to pay a small royalty per loan as well as buy the copies at a library price set by the publisher.

Certainly the repeated extending of copyright and DRM and not having works in print via POD when a run expires and not having ebooks is stupid.

Decent Audiobooks are an additional cost to produce and distribute. Shouldn't be conflated with ebooks.
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Old 06-20-2022, 10:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tubemonkey View Post
I agree with the ruling because it unfairly distributes works without permission from the authors and publishers. On the other hand, they only have themselves to blame when their works are pirated because they restrict access or place onerous conditions on said access.
Pretty much.
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Old 06-20-2022, 11:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quoth View Post
Copyright is about having 100% control of copying, thus selling. There is zero obligation on the rights holder to make it available at all, or in particular formats.
Exactly.

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Originally Posted by tubemonkey View Post
I agree with the ruling because it unfairly distributes works without permission from the authors and publishers. On the other hand, they only have themselves to blame when their works are pirated because they restrict access or place onerous conditions on said access.
Stealers gonna steal. The bulk of piracy occurs because people can and not because individual moral arbiters decide that something’s crossed the line of “onerosity”. It’s just a book and there are a lot of books out there; I suspect the overwhelming majority move on when they can’t get a particular book. People prefer to be honest, mostly.

Only themselves to blame seems a harsh judgment on a rights holder merely exercising those rights. I also have a sneaking suspicion that rights holders may have a better handle on maximizing profit/revenue/market share/whatever than the guy in the bleachers. Not that they can’t or don’t get it spectacularly wrong at times, but eliminating piracy entirely would probably cost much more than tolerating a certain level.
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Old 06-20-2022, 12:38 PM   #6
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Stealers gonna steal. The bulk of piracy occurs because people can and not because individual moral arbiters decide that something’s crossed the line of “onerosity”.
The history of music piracy argues against you. Napster was HUGE because it was free. But it was also easy to use and had a wide selection of music. The music industry wasn't offering that. Eventually they did through iTunes and then when they feared Apple's growing control, Amazon (too bad nobody in the publishing industry learned a lesson here).

You can still easily download free MP3s illegally. But not many people do it. Because it is a whole lot easier to use Pandora/Spotify/Apple Music/YouTube Music or if you want to 'own' it, you just buy the MP3 for about a buck and download a DRM free copy from Amazon that you know is high quality.

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Old 06-20-2022, 02:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZodWallop View Post
The history of music piracy argues against you. Napster was HUGE because it was free. But it was also easy to use and had a wide selection of music. The music industry wasn't offering that. Eventually they did through iTunes and then when they feared Apple's growing control, Amazon (too bad nobody in the publishing industry learned a lesson here).

You can still easily download free MP3s illegally. But not many people do it. Because it is a whole lot easier to use Pandora/Spotify/Apple Music/YouTube Music or if you want to 'own' it, you just buy the MP3 for about a buck and download a DRM free copy from Amazon that you know is high quality.
I’d argue this actually enforces Issys point. It was difficult getting specific tracks prenapster and the music industry was pushing albums with one or two solid songs and a bunch of filler. Napster made single tracks easily available. Now the music industry is still pumped out albums with one or two good songs but they’re available individually from iTunes and Amazon. Piracy still happens but it’s reduced because availability of what people want has changed. No more spending 15-20 bucks for a full album when you wanted a few tracks.
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Old 06-20-2022, 03:43 PM   #8
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I’d argue this actually enforces Issys point.
Not sure how you get that.

Argument:
Quote:
Originally Posted by tubemonkey View Post
[Publishers] only have themselves to blame when their works are pirated because they restrict access or place onerous conditions on said access.
Rebuttal:
Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
Stealers gonna steal. The bulk of piracy occurs because people can and not because individual moral arbiters decide that something’s crossed the line of “onerosity”.
My point:
Napster made it less onerous to get digital music. The industry overcame piracy by copying Napster and charging what enough people considered a reasonable price (thanks to much arm twisting by Apple and Amazon) to where it was just easier and better to do things legally. So the music industry looked at what the pirates were up to and made improvements on their end to complete.

The publishing industry has in fact NOT followed that example (thanks to collusion by Apple and the biggest publishers).

I'm not defending pirates. But 'stealers gonna steal' will never fix the problem of piracy.

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Old 06-20-2022, 04:02 PM   #9
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I confess my brain somehow read her argument as something else. Today is just one of those days, for example I know it’s Monday but my brain keeps insisting it’s Thursday. No idea why as nothing has changed which would throw off my sense of days.
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Old 06-20-2022, 05:46 PM   #10
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It is really no longer necessary to steal music. Most of my music and even entire albums I can download straight from YouTube and most of it was put there by the record companies! I guess they decided if they can't beat them, they might as well join them.

The other thing is that more and more people are streaming music for free or a small monthly fee. I get Amazon Music as a prime member. Thanks to a Roku stick I'm able to stream something like 2 million songs through my stereo system. That works for me.

As for ebooks, there are gazillions of them out there. Some are free, some are reasonably priced. I will only buy a publisher novel if they drop it down to a reasonable price, but I still have plenty to read, and I am adding more all the time.

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Old 06-20-2022, 05:47 PM   #11
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Lately, I ‘m finding almost everything I want to read at search.overdrive.com, so refusal to license to libraries is much less of an issue than it used to be, at least to someone who doesn’t read self-published books.

The bigger part of the Maryland law is the requirement to license eBooks to libraries under “reasonable” terms.

My first concern is that I don’t understand what is meant by reasonable. Is charging libraries double reasonable? I’m guessing yes. Is changing thirty times more reasonable? I’m guessing no.

I was going to post that the Maryland law should only apply to the University of Maryland Press, or similar, but there seems to be no such publisher.
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Old 06-20-2022, 05:56 PM   #12
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University Press of Maryland, though they certainly don’t seem to be very prolific in what they have to offer.

As to pricing well if the publisher finds the library doesn’t buy at a given price, the price would likely get reduced. I say likely because I feel that libraries need publishers more than publishers need libraries.

I assume we all remember when Macmillan changed their model, which I believe is still their current model now, to one which the libraries objected rather vocally. If I’m right and Macmillan hasn’t changed it then it certainly lends weight to which entity gets the bigger benefit from the other.

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Old 06-20-2022, 06:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Copyright is about having 100% control of copying, thus selling.
In democracies, you can’t stop a library, or an individual you don’t like, from buying a paper copy.

So if an organization you’d rather not have your book — say, a library, or a harsh critic, or an organization that wants to create a braille version for free distribution to the visually impaired, wants your book, I think you should be required to sell it to them.

My problem with the Maryland law is vagueness, and that having different rules in small jurisdictions makes it too complicated for publishers. Ideally, there should be international copyright rules.

If somebody wants to stop all library access to an eBook sold to individuals, I don’t think international, or regional, laws should respect that. And, at least for the visually impaired, licensing terms should be quite liberal.
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Old 06-20-2022, 08:04 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by SteveEisenberg View Post
In democracies, you can’t stop a library, or an individual you don’t like, from buying a paper copy.

So if an organization you’d rather not have your book — say, a library, or a harsh critic, or an organization that wants to create a braille version for free distribution to the visually impaired, wants your book, I think you should be required to sell it to them.
Why should anyone be required to sell anything to anyone? Morally sure, legally no. Especially when that someone is going to turn around and redistribute copies for free, albeit in an altered medium.

Also, libraries buy from publishers, it's not terribly difficult for publishers to seriously diminish or eliminate a libraries ability to buy their books.
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Old 06-20-2022, 09:33 PM   #15
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Why should anyone be required to sell anything to anyone? Morally sure, legally no.
If I am to take this literally, you are an extreme libertarian. We would have to discuss that in the political section.

As for books, I think I can just trot out the classic freedom to read in support of democracy mantra. It may be that there are a few countries so affluent that few people need public libraries for extended exposure to the widest range of viewpoints, but most of the world is not like that.

As for the eBook role here, eReader prices haven't gone down as fast as I thought they would, so that they might become a preferred reading tool for lower imcome people worldwide. Bit it will come as eInks patents expire.

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Especially when that someone is going to turn around and redistribute copies for free, albeit in an altered medium.
The Maryland law only concerns titles available electronically. There are so few more or less current narrative books still unavailable electonically that I don't see a big freedom to read issue with undigitized books.

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Also, libraries buy from publishers, it's not terribly difficult for publishers to seriously diminish or eliminate a libraries ability to buy their books.
Thus the issue.
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