Copyright, Libraries, and the Textbook Arms Race

In the United States, the unreasonably high price of college textbooks does more than encourage a futile “arms race” with students; it reveals troublesome failures in the market and in the copyright system. Some have predicted that the Internet will burst the textbook bubble. But for this to be realized, copyright law must first resolve its tense relationship with digital content and libraries. Libraries have long enjoyed exceptions under copyright regimes across the world to enable access to knowledge for education. Would an international framework to facilitate library lending and digital supply of documents, free from the constraints of DRM, affect the US college textbook bubble? It remains to be seen.

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