PA moves to calm unease over e-book lending

PA moves to calm unease over e-book lending

<p>Publishers Association chief executive Richard Mollet has sought to play down concerns over the PA&#39;s stance on e-book lending, saying that &quot;selling and lending have to be able to co-exist with neither duly harming the other&quot;. The statement came as Steve Potash, c.e.o. of Overdrive whose library e-book lending system is widely used by UK libraries, said it was &quot;inaccurate&quot; to claim that libraries were making free e-books available outside of their boundaries. Potash said the Publishers Association was responding to a &quot;single isolated incident that was acted on within 24 hours of discovery&quot;. </p><p><a href="../news/132038-pa-sets-out-restrictions-on-library-e-book-lending.html" target="_blank" title="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/132038-pa-sets-out-restrictions-on-lib... development follows Faber chief executive Stephen Page&#39;s speech at the CILIP PLA conference in Leeds yesterday outlining the PA&#39;s position</a>. Page said that all the major trade houses had agreed a baseline position through the PA placing restrictions on library e-lending, including a ban on remote downloading. Page said the baseline had been agreed because some libraries had overstepped their agreements on library lending.<br /><br />In the PA statement, Mollet stressed that Page&#39;s speech was not intended to be &quot;a line in the sand&quot; for publishers. He said: &quot;The position is a stepping-off point; a baseline from which publishers could, and no doubt would, develop their own arrangements with aggregators and libraries. It is of course possible that some publishers will take a more relaxed view of certain criteria&mdash;such as remote access. That would be entirely a matter for them.&quot;<br /><br />Mollet added that unchecked e-book lending would &quot;pose an extremely potent threat to the retail market which in the long-term would undermine the ability of authors, and the companies which invest in them, to see a reward for their creativity. This would be hugely a negative outcome for everyone, including libraries and their communities.&quot;<br /><br />Responding to the PA&#39;s position as outlined by Page, Potash emphasised that Overdrive would continue to use its &quot;one-book, one-user&quot; model on lent books, meaning only one borrower could access the title at any one time, with &quot;established checks to ensure that libraries are providing e-books only to those customers in their service area&quot;.</p><p>The Overdrive system allows members to download e-books onto their home devices remotely by employing a passcode supplied by the library. Under the new PA scheme, library users would have to come onto the library&#39;s physical premises to download an e-book at a computer terminal onto a mobile device, rather than downloading the book remotely.<br /><br />Potash told <em>The Bookseller</em>: &quot;Statements that e-books are being made available outside the boundaries of libraries&#39; service areas are inaccurate and do not describe the current status of e-book lending by UK public libraries.&quot; He added: &quot;We have always enforced proper geographic restrictions on the e-books in our catalogue, and will continue to provide publishers with a safe and secure method for distributing e-books to libraries and library customers online.&quot;<br /><br />Lauren Smith, spokesperson for online forum Voices for the Library, urged the PA to &quot;rethink their decision and work with libraries and other agencies&quot; to ensure public library services meet consumer need. Smith further asked for a &quot;proper compromise&quot; between the PA and relevant public library bodies, calling restricting access to digital resources &quot;counterintuitive and counterproductive.&quot;</p><p>She added: &quot;The proposed restrictions seriously jeopardise these principles and reinforce unequal access to information resources, creating a growing digital divide between those with access and those without. While we understand the concerns of publishers, we believe that the benefits of equitable access far outweigh the concerns over isolated incidents of unauthorised usage, or indeed concerns about the impact on publisher&#39;s profits.&quot;<br /><br />Addressing particular concerns over readers with disabilities being unable to gain access to e-books if remote access was denied, Mollet said the &quot;door to any further workable solutions is fully open&quot;. He said: &quot;Of course publishers take this issue very seriously, but we are confident that a solution can be found within the proposals set out: for example it may be possible to register certain readers for remote access, or current arrangements for helping people obtain physical books could be replicated in the e-reader world.&quot;<br /><br /><br /><br /><strong>Statement from Richard Mollet, CEO of The PA, re. position on ebook lending</strong><br /><br />Stephen Page&rsquo;s speech at the CILIP PLA conference outlined the close and supportive partnership between publishers and libraries, and the particular importance of this during tougher economic times. He also set out The Publishers Association position on ebook lending, which has attracted some negative comment from Bookseller readers. It is disappointing that this proposal of a constructive settlement can be interpreted as a &ldquo;declaration of war&rdquo;, so it may be useful to restate the case being made and hopefully clarify the underlying position.<br /> <br />First of all, some commentary appears to view the position as a &ldquo;line in the sand&rdquo; beyond which publishers will not go. This is not the case - and indeed the opposite is true. Rather, the position is a stepping-off point; a baseline from which publishers could, and no doubt would, develop their own arrangements with aggregators and libraries. As was said yesterday, it is of course possible that some publishers will take a more relaxed view of certain criteria &ndash; such as on remote access. That would be entirely a matter for them.<br /> <br />Other comments have pointed out that denying remote access will make it difficult for certain disability groups to access library services, thus denying one of the key advantages of ebooks. Of course publishers take this issue very seriously, but we are confident that a solution can be found within the proposals set out: for example, it may be possible to register certain readers for remote access, or current arrangements for helping people obtain physical books could be replicated in the e-reader world. The door to any further workable solutions is fully open.<br /> <br />Ultimately, the activities of selling and lending have to be able to co-exist with neither unduly harming the other. If ebook lending were untrammelled (as some comments seem to propose) it would pose an extremely potent threat to the retail market which in the long-term would undermine the ability of authors, and the companies which invest in them, to see a reward for their creativity. This would be hugely a negative outcome for everyone, including libraries and their communities. <br /> <br />All arms of the publishing sector are working their way through the opportunities and challenges of the digital age. From the PA point of view we are looking to do so in an open, constructive and balanced way. We look forward to continuing to talk with librarians and other groups to achieve this.<br /><br /><br /><strong>Statement from Steve Potash, CEO of OverDrive:</strong><br /><br />I am writing in response to the Publishers Association (UK) announcement this week of its position on library lending at the CILIP Public Library Authorities conference, as well as recent reports of publisher concerns about the role and options for public libraries to participate in eBook lending. I am honored to have the privilege of responding on behalf of librarians and the library institutions to which they devote their energies, many of whom OverDrive is proud to count as its partners.<br /><br />OverDrive&rsquo;s mission has always been to protect publisher and author rights while providing libraries with premium digital content for their collection. Our secure &ldquo;one-book, one-user&rdquo; model has served this mission for years. The Publishers Association is responding to a single isolated incident that was acted on within 24 hours of discovery. In addition, our system has established checks to ensure that libraries are providing eBooks only to those customers in their service area. We have always enforced proper geographic restrictions on the eBooks in our catalog, and will continue to provide publishers with a safe and secure method for distributing eBooks to libraries and library customers online.<br /><br />Public Libraries and OverDrive are trusted, responsible channels and outlets for publishers and authors to promote and provide access to premium copyrighted eBooks.<br /><br />OverDrive licenses eBooks under a &ldquo;one-book, one-user&rdquo; lending model to UK public libraries. When a public library licenses one copy of an eBook title, only one library customer may access the title at any one time. There are no simultaneous checkouts or downloads for this model, and instead access is limited to the number of licenses of an eBook a library has in its collection. At the end of a customer&rsquo;s limited lending period, the DRM-protected eBook file expires on a library customer&rsquo;s computer and device. All eBooks are hosted and remain on OverDrive&rsquo;s secure servers.<br /><br />This model has successfully worked for years around the world, providing libraries with access to premium content while generating revenue for publishers.<br /><br />The current data on eBooks in UK public libraries indicates a stable remote lending model.<br /><br />OverDrive proudly works with over 50 UK publishers that license eBooks to UK public libraries for lending via remote download. Since the inception of the service over 6 years ago, slightly over 14,000 total eBook units serving public library authorities in Great Britain, Scotland, and Ireland have been licensed through OverDrive. The average circulation is 2.9 check outs per title. As the service grows in popularity, circulation will increase. But so will the number of units, thereby keeping the circulation per title relatively constant.<br /><br />UK public libraries working with OverDrive are respecting territorial rights to titles and limiting access to library customers within the libraries service area.<br /><br />UK public libraries working with OverDrive all require that the user presents a valid, current, authenticated library card prior to borrowing an eBook title. OverDrive performs authentication of each library card to verify its validity. Each UK public library has accepted this requirement for eBook lending. Statements that eBooks are being made available outside the boundaries of libraries&rsquo; service areas are inaccurate and do not describe the current status of eBook lending by UK pub libraries.<br /><br />eBook lending provides valuable sales and marketing support for authors and publishers.<br /><br />In 2009, visitors to OverDrive-powered library websites viewed more than 401 million pages. Among unique visitors to these download library pages, 80 percent did not check out a digital title, yet still visited 13 pages on average.<br /><br />eBooks serve readers, students; address public interests and the common goals of authors and publishers.<br /><br />When a new generation of students, children, young adults, and online readers are stimulated to try a legally licensed and purchased eBook from the public library, publishers and authors win.<br /><br />The UK public libraries serve the most noble and trusted role of providing the opportunity to read, learn, and become part of the consumer market that authors and publishers both seek. As books and reading compete with every other form of media, video, game, and social network experience, the opportunities to place eBook titles in front of potential new readers and customers is an invaluable service.</p><p>For over 25 years, OverDrive has partnered with many of the world&rsquo;s leading publishers and authors to protect and distribute intellectual property and copyrighted works. We hope to continue the dialog with both libraries and publishers to maximize benefits for all.<br /> </p>