Two major library groups join chorus of support for controlled digital lending

This week, two major library organizations affirmed their commitment to the longstanding and widespread library practice of digitizing physical books they own and lending out secured digital versions. The practice, controlled digital lending (CDL), is the digital equivalent of traditional library lending. 

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) joined hundreds of individual libraries and supporters in signing a public position statement in support of controlled digital lending

ARL and SPARC collectively represent over 300 academic and research libraries in the U.S. and Canada. ARL advocates on behalf of research libraries and home institutions on many issues and its members include government institutions, including the National Library of Medicine and the National Archives, as well as the continent’s largest land grant institutions and Ivy League colleges. SPARC focuses on enabling the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials, arguing that such access democratizes access to information knowledge and increases the return on investment in research and education.

Announcing their support, SPARC said, “CDL plays an important role in many libraries, and has been particularly critical to many academic and research libraries as they work to support students, faculty, and researchers through this pandemic.” SPARC also issued a call to action to others in the library community to add their support.

ARL concurred, “CDL is a practice rooted in the fair use right of the US Copyright Act and recent judicial interpretations of that right. During the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, many academic and research libraries have relied on CDL to ensure academic and research continuity at a time when many physical collections have been inaccessible.”

The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program is powered by controlled digital lending and we welcome the support of other libraries. As libraries are closed across the globe because of COVID-19, millions of digitized books are still available for free to be borrowed by learn-at-home students and readers.

10 thoughts on “Two major library groups join chorus of support for controlled digital lending

  1. A disappointed Reader

    It’s sad that Authors works are being stolen and given away for free. Even libraries often purchase books that’s in it’s rotation. If people want to read a digital book they should pay for the ebook. This is flat out theft. Sure people like free stuff. That’s why people loot and steal. But it doesn’t make it right. If an author wanted to give away his book for free that’s one thing. It’s not the same a library. You are doing it with out permission. It’s just theft. Why should writers even write if organizations like this are just going to steal their work and give it away for free. I hope people steal and giveaway all your content. I hope they plagerize your blog and claim it as their own. It would only be fair.

    1. Fair Use

      It is by fair use. It’s not exactly giving away for free if there are limitations to access and ownership.

  2. Fran Moreland Johns

    I surely never published any best-sellers. Still, I appreciate everyone who ever bought a copy of one of my books (and even those who occasionally still buy e-book copies.) But I am particularly grateful for the libraries (including Internet Archive) where my books can be found. For free!! When libraries begin to be conflated with, and condemned for offering, “free stuff” it seems to me we’re going to be in big trouble.

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