Controlled Digital Lending Sees Further Challenges

Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly has published an article exploring how another group, The National Writers Union, has joined the outcry against Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). CDL is the process “by which a library (or a nonprofit, like the Internet Archive) scans a print copy of a book they have legally acquired, then makes the scan available to be borrowed in lieu of the print book, using a DRM-protected one user/one copy model, and, crucially, taking the corresponding print book out of circulation while the digital copy is on loan.”

At issue is whether the practice is fair. Authors and publishers are taking the stand that such scans replace existing digital licenses and cost them revenue. Advocates of CDL argue that owning a physical copy of a title, holding it from circulation, and restricting its scan to one user at a time merely replicates typical library lending.

ReadersFirst does not currently take a stand on CDL but advocates for sharing of resources as openly a possible within the limits of fair use. We will watch developments with interest. This one may get settled in the courts. Mr. Albanese’s article explores the topic in detail and is well worth a read.

Disclosure: a member of the ReadersFirst Working Group was interviewed for the article and is working on a pilot project (not yet public) with the Internet Archive’s Open Library, the primary exponent of CDL and the main target of publisher and author groups’ ire.