Andrew AlbaneseStatewide consumer protection legislation that guarantees availability of e-books in public libraries. If that sounds like a good idea, there’s a catch: any such laws would likely run afoul of national copyright regulation. And it all comes down to digital.

Charged with ensuring a fair marketplace, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection this week issued a 21-page report examining the library e-book market. Among the choices offered to legislators, the DCP leaned to “wait and see” – for now.

“The report was initiated after Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy last summer approved a special act to provide for a study ‘regarding the availability of electronic books to users of public libraries in this state.’ Over the last six months, the Department sought input from a wide range of entities including libraries, publishers and distributors,”  Andrew Albanese, senior writer for Publishers Weekly, tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.

“The report captures the major ups and downs of the library e-book market in recent years,” Albanese adds. “It concludes that recent events indicate ‘that the market is moving in a positive direction,’ although it acknowledges ongoing concerns. In particular, since e-books are licensed access products, any potential state legislation would be tricky to harmonize with federal copyright laws—there is no digital first sale, so copyrighted works in the digital realm can be restricted in ways print books cannot.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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