This week, Library Futures was delighted to co-host a webinar with our partners at the Internet Archive about Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), an emerging practice that allows libraries to lend a digital version of a purchased print book. Featuring a lineup of luminaries including board members Jill Hurst-Wahl, Tucker Taylor, and Kyle Courtney, the session dispelled myths about the practice of CDL and taught participants how to interpret the law, particularly fair use, through an engaging and informative presentation.
CDL is a technology that greatly expands access and equity to digital materials, enhancing discoverability, availability, and accessibility for creative works. Relying on fair use, or what Kyle Courtney calls "library superpowers," CDL is an important innovation in the evolution of digital lending. As Andrea Mills, Digitization Program Manager at the Internet Archive says, “People love books and will buy if they’re able. But we have to remember that paper books and even some ebooks do not serve the needs of all readers... Accessibility is a human right that must be vigilantly protected.”
As an organization committed to protecting the right to equitable access to knowledge, we believe that CDL can be transformative for libraries, allowing libraries to level the playing field with publishers as well as maintain access to their collections, particularly in crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the webinar, the Internet Archive also debuted a new video explainer to demonstrate how CDL works both legally and technically for use in a variety of educational contexts. The video was created in support of their Empowering Libraries campaign, which defends the rights of libraries to lend digital books.