What about copyright law?

Book Copyright

This question is very difficult to answer; it is believed by many that copyright law itself is holding back the future of libraries and distribution of digital information.  The copyright issue is large enough to have its own dedicated website as it relates to public libraries. It is not the intention of this article or this website to resolve or even discuss this issue in length.

It is recognized that this issue is not decided by public library administrators, but by the people and politicians who shape the laws of the land.  TabletLibrary.org takes the same position taken by the American Library Association:

"What librarians seek as copyright law and related rules are being reshaped for the digital age is to maintain for users, and for libraries and educational institutions acting on their behalf, their rights to at least the same extent as they have enjoyed them in the analog environment. Should any new rights be granted to copyright proprietors in copyright law revision, they should be circumscribed in analogous and appropriate ways on behalf of users. Libraries and educational institutions expect the law to continue to equalize the bargaining leverage among the three groups -- creators, publishers, and users. This becomes even more important as licensing replaces purchasing.

Librarians also recognize that a key societal function of libraries -- the archival function -- is at risk because electronic information is so seldom actually available for purchase and permanent retention or preservation. Libraries play this archival role because history has shown that it is not economically viable for profit-based businesses to do so. The disappearance of much electronic information after a very short period of time, the fragility of digital bits, and the short life of hardware and software suggest that this role of libraries will be more needed than ever before, but harder and harder for libraries to accomplish. Librarians seek incentives under the law to be able, at reasonable prices, to maintain and preserve electronic information, most of which will not retain economic viability.

With a good balanced copyright law and intellectual property policy, there is no reason why the digital information environment should not increase the opportunities for creators, publishers, and users. Librarians do not see debate over intellectual property policy issues in terms of winners and losers. Debate on such crucial policy matters is healthy. Adapting policy to rapid technological change is never easy. It makes all parties nervous because they know they cannot accurately foretell the future. The difficulty and the complexity underscore the importance of a careful and thoughtful approach to copyright law revision and rulemakings." source

Libraries as Creatures of Copyright:Why Librarians Care about Intellectual Property Law and Policy
The Digital Public Library of America and the Digital Future - Video
NPR Audio: E-Books Strain Relations Between Libraries, Publishing Houses