[Web4lib] Kindle Lending

Tim Spalding tim at librarything.com
Thu Oct 28 03:48:13 EDT 2010

> Robert: "When someone is not reading the book, permission could be given by a Kindle owner in Mass to a Kindle owner in California or in St. Louis."

There's no question it's a concession of some sort. But it's a very
slim one. You can lend a book to one person, once, for a set period of
time. And after you do it, the book can never be lent again.

That's if it CAN be lent. That's contingent on publisher approval. And
indeed it also requires author approval, since author-rights
agreements always explicitly retain all rights not granted, and even
the ebook agreements my wife signed last year didn't have any langauge
to this effect.

> Brian: "It terms of the privacy issue I think the difference between government trying to get library records versus library's promoting personal purchase of e-book readers is that the personal level of privacy decision remains with the individual library's promoting personal purchase of e-book readers is that the personal level of privacy decision remains with the individual."

First, I think librarians, individually and as a body, have long taken
anti-censorship stances that exceed questions of personal choice. In
this case, we're dealing a major realignment of how books exist in
relation to people--namely, one or two companies will quite literally
know what everyone is reading, when and even where. Economies of scale
and network effects make it very likely this will be only a few
companies and that most digital reading will be involved.

Second, Libraries enter into this directly not only by promoting these
devices to their patrons, but more directly by buying them and lending
them to their patrons.

> Laura: "One of my colleagues suggested once, in a very off-the-cuff way, that
we should just start digitizing all of our own print books and
creating our own digital libraries. Legally, he thinks first sale
doctrine could potentially guide us ..."

This is basically what the Internet Archive is doing (see WSJ article,

Frankly, I don't think it will hold up. Copyright is quite literally
the right to make copies. Making copies that are superior to the
original--ie., don't get old, can be used anywhere, etc.--is going to
fail the standard legal tests. If Congress wanted to allow libraries
to lend physical books out by making them digital, they would have to
write a law for it.

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