Kansas Library to swtich to 3M – Another Litmus Test for E-content provision

As discussed previously on this blog, the ability of the Kansas State Library consortium to successfully negotiate with e-content platform provider OverDrive will set the standard for the foreseeable future for collective bargaining of libraries with e-content creators and third-party platform providers (See the original article on the showdown with OverDrive here).

The struggle for KS libraries (and many others) has been that OverDrive is really the only game in town, making substantive negotiation difficult. That was until 3M decided to jump into the market with a new EBook Lending service (see details here) which the state of KS has decided to adopt as a beta tester (again, details here).

First, I’d like to commend the Kansas State Library for taking advantage of an alternative instead of capitulating to OverDrive’s outrageous rate increase. More importantly though, the library consortium is arguing it can make this shift, with it’s ebook content intact, because it OWNS the content and therefore should have the right to move it where ever it likes.

The implications here are huge. The entire ebook market currently functions on a licensing model, though few consumers realize it. If the state library can successfully argue that it owns this e-content (which the contract with OverDrive would seem to support and the KS State Attorney General’s office sure seems to support the ownership argument) it could set a precdent for e-content ownership for other libraries and private consumers.

The new agreement with 3M assures publishers of the same print-based model of lending as did the OverDrive contract, one-copy lent to one patron at a time. If the Library can successfully argue that it OWNS this content, it may theoretically have the leway to get more creative with its lending of these resources and embrace the potential of e-resources without artificially imposing print limitations on their usage. While unlikely as such “creative thinking” would jepordize relationships with publishers, asserting ownership of e-content is an important first step.

Watch closely folks, the future of e-content is playing out right here in Kansas!

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