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Peter Hirtle wrote a thoughtful post on the LibraryLaw Blog about whether or not libraries can legally lend out eBook readers.  While there’s no problem with the hardware, there are legal problems with the eBook software licenses as well as the individual eBook title licenses as well.  Those use licenses are not library-friendly and in fact preclude any kind of lending, sharing, or mass use such as you would find in a library.  If your library is lending out eBook readers, Hirtle suggests consulting with an attorney in detailed analysis of all three components: hardware, software, and eBook title.  The same goes for any other eMedia, such as eMusic, eMovies, or eAudioBooks.

Please be careful, libraries.  And please take this as a lesson why we need organized lobbying to eMedia companies and publishers to create library-friendly licenses, use policies, digital rights management, and formats so that libraries can continue to act as the great sharers and equalizers in their communities.

“Libraries and eBook Readers: An Illegal Match?”

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