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Connecticut AG Members Oppose State Ebook Licensing Bill

Connecticut State Capitol dome, with Gothic architecture and gold accents, seen from a distance through a gap in bright green tree foliage

On April 19, 2024, more than 60 Authors Guild members from the state of Connecticut sent a letter to leaders in both houses of the Connecticut General Assembly voicing their concerns about Senate Bill 148 and House Bill 5312. These bills would create the equivalent of a compulsory license for ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital media in violation of federal law and to the detriment of authors’ incomes. They prohibit publishers, authors, and others from negotiating certain terms with state libraries—including restrictions on the number and duration of licenses—making the inclusion of these terms in contracts a violation of the state’s unfair trade practices laws.

In June 2022, a federal court in Maryland ruled that a similar state law regulating ebook licensing was “unconstitutional and unenforceable” on grounds that it violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Likewise, in December 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed a similar state bill mandating terms for library ebook licenses on grounds that it likely violated federal law.  Nevertheless, proponents of the bills, who are backed by tech-funded anti-copyright groups, continue to advance them without success.

The Authors Guild has been actively lobbying against such bills in Connecticut and other states where they have emerged. The Guild testified twice in Connecticut, once in February before a House committee reviewing the bill and once in April before the Senate, urging lawmakers to abandon the misguided and clearly unconstitutional encroachment against authors’ and publishers’ rights under federal copyright law. In addition to advocacy in Connecticut, the Guild has also testified against similar bills in Rhode Island and Vermont.

The Authors Guild members’ letter to Connecticut General Assembly leaders emphasizes how authors will be impacted by the legislation, arguing that the unconstitutional restrictions on publishers’ ability to license to libraries would impact the market for ebooks and authors’ earnings, which is already at historic lows. The Guild thanks the Connecticut authors who answered our advocacy call and signed on to our letter. 

You can read the full letter here.