Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The ascent of e-books raises many copyright issues both old and new, and the role of libraries in e-book lending is an important one for many librarians and readers. Libraries are an important part of a democratic society, and changes to the publishing and copyright landscape invariably affect the functions and use of libraries. Libraries have traditionally relied on the doctrine of first sale to lend physical books. The first sale doctrine allows the owner of a copyrighted work to sell, lend, or otherwise dispose of the owned copy of that work without authorization of the copyright holder. Libraries own physical copies of books and lend them without violating U.S. copyright law. However, the limitations of the first sale doctrine require ownership, and as contractual license agreements between publishers, distributors, and customers replace ownership as the dominant distribution model in the e-book realm, the continued viability of the first sale model for libraries-and therefore public lending libraries themselves-could be in jeopardy. This Note addresses how public lending libraries can retain their traditional role in a literary world dominated by e-books.