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Hundreds of authors signed a letter in support of libraries’ digital rights.

Corinne Segal

September 29, 2022, 11:01am

Hundreds of authors have signed a letter released today by Fight for the Future, a nonprofit group that addresses digital rights issues, to express support for libraries’ open access to digital books and for protecting their right to lend books in all formats.

The letter calls for “[enshrining] the right of libraries to permanently own and preserve books, and to purchase these permanent copies on reasonable terms, regardless of format.” It adds, “when libraries have access to ebooks at all, the prices libraries pay to rent ebooks are often likened to extortion. Digital editions are more affordable to produce and often more accessible, but libraries are already relying on emergency funds and may only be able to license a small selection of mainstream works in the future.”

The letter also voices opposition to lawsuits that aim to limit libraries’ access to ebooks and prevent them from lending scanned materials, including a recent lawsuit in Maryland as well as several publishers’ ongoing lawsuit against the Internet Archive. “While undermining libraries may financially benefit the wealthiest and most privileged authors and corporations in the short term, this behavior is utterly opposed to the interests of authors as a whole,” the letter states.

The group also released statements from some of the letter’s signatories, which include Neil Gaiman, Hanif Abdurraqib, Naomi Klein, Torrey Peters, Hugh Ryan, Molly Crabapple, Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan Mendoza, Laurie Penny, Danez Smith, and hundreds of others.

“I flat-out owe my career as a trans author to the unimpeded circulation of digital books: the first trans books that inspired me were digital, my own first books were published digitally,” Peters wrote in a statement. “Book stores didn’t carry our books at first. Therefore, any readers that have felt their own emotions changed by my published work—no matter in what medium—ultimately also owe that change to digital books. Everybody benefits when digital books are accessible.”

“I want a future in which authors and artists are fairly compensated for their work and where their works can still be affordable and accessible to everyone most affected by capitalism and inequity,” Mendoza wrote. “Libraries, and their ability to lend e-books in a reasonable manner, are key to this outcome.”

You can read the full text here.

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