Hear that? That’s the collective sound of a thousand publishing industry jaws hitting the floor.

In a Library Journal item posted today, reporter Michael Kelley writes that Random House—one of the so-called Big Six publishers, don’t forget—has made a rather stunning proclamation in regards to their sales of e-books to libraries. The following quotes are the words of Skip Dye, Random House’s vice president of library and academic marketing and sales, who participated in two recent interviews with Kelly:

“When libraries buy their RH, Inc. ebooks from authorized library wholesalers,” says  Skip Dye, Random House’s vice president of library and academic marketing and sales, “it is our position that they own them.”

“This is our business model: we sell copies of our ebooks to an approved list of library wholesalers, and those wholesalers are supposed to resell them to libraries. In our view, this purchase constitutes ownership of the book by the library. It is not a license.”

Interestingly enough, Kelley says that this potentially industry-altering turn of events is not actually news. “It came up at the Massachusetts Library Association conference in May,” he writes, “[and] it was bruited about at the American Library Association (ALA) annual meeting in Anaheim in June.”

In light of this (old) news, Kelley goes on to warn librarians that they should “ensure that whatever licenses they are signing with vendors or aggregators do not unwittingly curtail or sign away the rights that entail from this frankly avowed ownership, particularly user exceptions under copyright law.”

Click here to read the full article.

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