What’s so iAWFUL?

This bill would force publishers to sell digital books at “reasonable” prices to state libraries – letting Connecticut courts decide if the price is reasonable or not.  Passage of this bill means you could be paying more for your e-books.

(CT HB 5614)

HB 5614 pits publishers against libraries by forcing publishers into new policies and pricing for one of their most exciting products: e-books. The legislation threatens to undermine the relationships between libraries and publishers, curb innovation in a moving market, and potentially drive up costs for all consumers.

Thing is, all this pain comes without any real gain since HB 5614 is just a solution in search of a problem.

As e-books have become increasingly popular, publishers and libraries have gone into overdrive to develop new models for licensing and lending e-books to readers.  E-book sales to libraries are growing exponentially, as are creative pricing and lending models.  Most of the major trade publishers already license to libraries.

This bad bill is a late attempt to solve a “problem” that is rapidly disappearing on its own.  It would impose court and regulatory oversight, adding legal risks to financial risks and slowing the growth of e-book licensing to libraries.

In essence, the bill treats book publishers like public utilities, dictating how they sell e-books and the prices that they can charge.  It requires publishers to provide e-books to libraries at the same price they offer them to individual consumers, with little regard for how libraries lend e-books to multiple readers over multiple times.

Those burdens are almost certain to be passed down to readers (both library patrons and e-book customers) in the form of higher prices and likely result in more restrictive copy and transfer limitations.

Status:

This bill is being tabled for more study but we expect this misguided legislation to reappear.

 

The iAWFUL reflects the editorial views of the Executive Director of NetChoice and does not necessarily reflect the views of all NetChoice members.

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