By Hannah Johnson
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Many libraries in the UK and USA see e-book lending as a possible solution to dwindling visitor numbers because people can access and “borrow” e-books without visiting a physical library location.
For those of you who haven’t tested this at your local library, a patron “checks out” an e-book and downloads the file to their preferred device. The e-book remains active for a certain period of time, during which other readers may not download the e-book. The file is deactivated after the lending period is over and available for other readers to check out.
However, some publishers worry that “lending” e-books could lead to piracy, despite DRM protection on the library e-books. A free e-book download could be hacked and multiple copies could end up on file-sharing networks all over the world. This of particular concern for popular and new release titles.
Then again, the oft-repeated argument against DRM and anti-piracy measures applies here as well as it does to purchased e-books: piracy is going to happen no matter what kind of DRM publishers use, and the same risk of piracy exists with physical books.
Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association in the UK recently told The Bookseller: “Our position is that we have to be certain that e-book lending does not pose a serious threat to publishers’ commercial activities -– e-book sales. Untrammelled remote access e-book lending would pose such a threat, which in the end would be of no benefit to anyone, including libraries.”
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