As described in this article from Library Journal, copyright experts have started to build a framework for Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). For a library setting, the concept of using CDL is fairly simple. If the library owns a physical copy of a book, the copy is digitized. Patrons may then choose to borrow the book in either print or digital format. When one of the format copies is loaned out, the other copy will not be in circulation until the borrowed copy is returned. This is so that the library can properly uphold an “owned to loan” ratio.
Why is CDL so useful? Not only would it provide digital access to out-of-print books and otherwise inaccessible shelf copies, but it helps to break down barriers to access for those who are unable to physically visit a library that houses the book they need.
“[CDL has the potential to] revolutionalize how library users access and conduct research with these valuable materials. The UC Berkeley Library is better positioned to help democratize access to knowledge and allow it to be used in ways that promote global progress.” – Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, Berkeley’s university librarian
As it continues to garner interest among both academic and public library institutions, there are several potential problem areas to explore as well. This includes the need to utilize digital rights management software in order to prevent borrowers from creating and distributing additional copies, as well as issues related to how copyright law would be applied to digital copies when it hasn’t been previously established.
As someone who regularly borrows ebooks from my local library, I think the potential benefits of CDL can have a big impact on researchers, students, and the general public. Although the article specifically mentions that CDL is “not meant to be a competitor to OverDrive”, nor a “replacement for licensing ebooks”, allowing patrons to borrow difficult to access print books via digital means could open the possibilities for disseminating valuable knowledge and information. I am also very interested to see how this technology will statistically affect lending patterns and library usage.
–Tami Chen (INFO 653-01)