I’m unimpressed at Harper Collins’ move to limit the number of times an e-book that is bought by a library can be loaned to 26. Most limits on distribution of content are at least partly justified by the fact that they are designed to prevent new copyright infringing uses of that content (even if in practice they also limit fair uses of that text). However, this new rule limits libraries from operating in perfectly normal, legitimate ways. One might conceivably argue that some limit could be set to account for the fact that physical books bought by libraries have always had the physical limitation of only being lendable for a certain number of times before they deteriorated (that’s why they tend to buy more hardbacks). But would a hardback become effectively unreadable after 26 readings as a Harper Collins e-book now will be? And is that the rationale they are offering libraries?
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4 March 2011