Maryland’s library e-book law will go into effect after all—though for how long remains to be seen. Following a December 21 status conference, federal judge Deborah L. Boardman has set a briefing schedule that will take the Association of American Publishers’ bid to block the law into February—and possibly longer.
Per the court’s order, Maryland state attorneys are due to file a consolidated motion by January 14 comprising their forthcoming motion to dismiss the AAP’s suit and their motion in opposition to the AAP’s bid for a preliminary injunction. The AAP reply is due by January 28. A remote hearing is set for February 7. The schedule means that the Maryland law—which passed the Maryland General Assembly unanimously in March—will take effect on January 1, 2022 as set out in the law’s text.
The order comes after the AAP filed suit against Maryland attorney general Brian Frosh in federal court in Maryland on December 9, claiming that the Maryland law is preempted by federal copyright law, among other issues. And on December 16, AAP lawyers filed a subsequent motion for a preliminary injunction, claiming the law would cause “immediate” and “irreparable” harm if allowed to take effect.
Meanwhile, New York Governor Kathy Hochul is now on the clock after New York’s library e-book law was delivered for signature or veto on December 17. By law, Hochul has 10 days from delivery—until December 29—to sign or veto the bill. If Hochul takes no action by then, the bill becomes law.
Like the Maryland law, the New York bill requires “publishers who offer to license e-books to the public” to also offer those e-books to libraries on “reasonable” terms. The bill’s summary states that the law is designed to ensure that “widely accepted and effective industry practices remain in place while prohibiting harmful practices that discriminate against libraries and harm library patrons.”
However, a cohort of industry groups, including the AAP and the Authors Guild, urged Hochul to veto the measure in a recent letter, calling the bill “an unjustified attack” that would have “a significant negative impact on the economy and jobs” in New York.
“The copyright industry and New York’s economy are directly linked,” the letter states. “The publishing industry alone provides tens of thousands of jobs in New York, where it has been proudly headquartered for two centuries. In addition, publishing creates numerous jobs for distribution partners, such as booksellers, and works closely with business partners like the motion picture and television industry, which together are directly responsible for more than one hundred thousand jobs in New York and some $13.1 billion in wages.”
A spokesperson for the New York Library Association told PW that supporters remain hopeful that Hochul will sign the bill into law, adding that the bill enjoys strong grassroots support in the state. In June, despite the AAP’s opposition, the bill unanimously passed the New York Assembly 148-0, and passed the New York State Senate 62-1.
“In the last week we’ve had nearly 1,000 advocates send support letters and emails to the Governor’s office,” NYLA spokesperson Briana McNamee said.