NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A5837B
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the general business law, in relation to requiring
publishers to offer licenses for electronic books to libraries under
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
To make e-books equally accessible to public libraries in the state on
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
This bill amends the general business law by adding a new section 349-nn
that requires publishers to offer electronic books to public libraries
under reasonable terms.
Subsection one establishes definitions for electronic books and publish-
Subsection two requires publishers to offer e-books to libraries on
reasonable term's that permit libraries to provide patrons with access-
to said books.
Subsection three defines what shall and shall not constitute reasonable
terms for e-book licensure. Subsection four grants Attorney General
enforcement of the provisions of this section and sets the penalty.
Section 2 sets the effective date.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORIGINAL AND AMENDED VERSION (IF APPLICABLE):
This amended version specifies that the Attorney General has enforcement
of this section and also raises the penalties for violation of this
section to five hundred dollars for the first violation and one thousand
for all subsequent penalties.
Public libraries provide equitable access to information for all. Many
New Yorkers prefer digital content and libraries provide this content as
a benefit to their communities. E-books are particularly useful for
senior citizens, people with disabilities, and others who may find
digital content more accessible and manageable than paper books.
As the market for e-books has developed and matured, publishers and
libraries have worked to develop equitable models to ensure access to
library patrons. Many of these practices are widely accepted and help
ensure libraries are able to provide access. As markets continue to
grow, however, some publishers are introducing practices that signif-
icantly interfere with libraries' ability to continue to provide their
patrons with equitable access. In particular, there are e-book embargoes
in place that restrict the timely availability of e-books to public
libraries. These embargoes place an unfair burden on public library
systems that are forced to wait eight weeks to purchase more than one
license for a title. Such embargos undermine the democratic and educa-
tional function of library systems. This discriminatory practice will
restrict access in ways that harm library systems and those they serve.
Many library patrons are lower income or face barriers to other means of
information access. These new licensing restrictions means patrons may
be forced to wait much longer to borrow books, as only one title is made
available per library system. Additionally, these restrictions will
financially burden library systems that will have to purchase more
titles to keep up with demand following the two-month embargo. Finally,
it significantly restricts access to titles for New Yorkers who find
digital content more accessible than paper books.
This bill establishes in statute what constitutes reasonable and unrea-
sonable standards for e-book licensing to New York's public libraries.
It requires publishers who offer to license e-books to the public shall
offer such books to libraries on said reasonable terms. In doing so, it
ensures that widely accepted and effective industry practices remain in
place while prohibiting harmful practices that discriminate against
libraries and harm library patrons.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2020: A.9881 (Ryan): Referred to Consumer Affairs and Protection
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
None to the state.
This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have
become a law shall apply to contracts entered into, renewed, modified,
or amended on or after such effective date.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2021-2022 Regular Sessions
February 26, 2021
Introduced by M. of A. JEAN-PIERRE, LAVINE, JENSEN -- read once and
referred to the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection --
committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and
recommitted to said committee -- again reported from said committee
with amendments, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said
AN ACT to amend the general business law, in relation to requiring
publishers to offer licenses for electronic books to libraries under
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. The general business law is amended by adding a new section
2 399-nn to read as follows:
3 § 399-nn. Electronic book licenses. 1. For the purposes of this
4 section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
5 (a) "electronic book" means a text document that has been converted
6 into or published in a digital format that is read on a computer,
7 tablet, smart phone, or electronic device; and
8 (b) "publisher" means one whose business is the manufacture, promulga-
9 tion, and sale of books, journals, or other literary productions includ-
10 ing those in digital form consisting of text, imagery or both.
11 2. Any publisher who offers to license electronic books to the public
12 shall offer to license such books to libraries in the state on reason-
13 able terms that would permit the libraries to provide their users with
14 access to such electronic books.
15 3. (a) Such reasonable terms shall include:
16 (i) a limitation on the number of users to whom the libraries may
17 simultaneously provide access to the electronic books;
18 (ii) a limitation on the number of days the libraries may provide a
19 user with access to the electronic books; and
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 5837--B 2
1 (iii) the use of technological protection measures that would prevent
2 a user from (A) maintaining access to the electronic books beyond the
3 access period set forth in the license, and (B) providing other users
4 with access to the electronic books.
5 (b) Such reasonable terms shall not include a limitation on the number
6 of licenses for electronic books libraries may purchase at the same date
7 available to the public.
8 4. Whenever there shall be a violation of this section, an application
9 may be made by the attorney general in the name of the people of the
10 state of New York, to a court or justice having jurisdiction by a
11 special proceeding to issue an injunction, and upon notice to the
12 defendant of not less than five days, to enjoin and restrain the contin-
13 uance of such violations; and if it shall appear to the satisfaction of
14 the court or justice that the defendant has, in fact, violated this
15 section, an injunction may be issued by the court or justice, enjoining
16 and restraining any further violations, without requiring proof that any
17 person has, in fact, been injured or damaged thereby. In any such
18 proceeding, the court may make allowances to the attorney general as
19 provided in paragraph six of subdivision (a) of section eighty-three
20 hundred three of the civil practice law and rules, and direct restitu-
21 tion. Whenever the court shall determine that a violation of this
22 section has occurred, the court may impose a civil penalty of not more
23 than five hundred dollars for the initial offense, and the second
24 offense and any offense thereafter shall be punishable by a civil
25 penalty not to exceed one thousand dollars.
26 § 2. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall
27 have become a law and shall apply to contracts entered into, renewed,
28 modified, or amended on or after such effective date.