2 thoughts on “studios clamping down on library sales?”

  1. In the US, the copyright ‘first sale doctrine’ pretty clearly gives anyone that has purchased a DVD the right to loan or rent it out — I don’t think there’s any legal support for a higher price for rental copies. The first sale doctrine’s applicability to computer software is less clear, but when it comes to DVD’s, I believe it is pretty clear (but I’m still not a lawyer).

    Now I don’t think that means any particular vendor has to sell to you; if the library vendors are following studio requests not to sell retail copies to libraries, I believe they are entitled to do that.

    But if a library buys an ordinary retail copy of a DVD off of Amazon, I believe in the US they have a clear legal right to do so, and proceed to loan it out.


    [Although I totally agree with you that there is more to libraries than warehouse of content. I also think it’s important that we stick up for our rights when in cases where we DO want to have content, and not be forced into an alternate path by over-reaching copyright holders.]

  2. Jonathon, there’s no doubt that libraries are still allowed to circulate physical items that they purchase (so long as there’s no shrinkwrap EULA, which DVDs still don’t have), and it’s not the end of the world that libraries will have to buy retail copies at, well, retail. However, the volume of purchasing that many larger libraries do can be extremely challenging to manage efficiently using consumer-oriented sales and fulfillment interfaces. But that’s not the big deal here. The big deal is pressure being applied to distributors by publishers to restrict what libraries can purchase from them. It’s a dead canary and a slippery, slippery slope.

    I don’t think that libraries are fucked because we eventually won’t be able to buy commercial content anymore, I think libraries are fucked because most libraries believe they will always be able to buy commerical content and have not already begun the shift away from buying copies of things that already exist everywhere to creating or digitizing things that don’t exist anywhere.

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