At OverDrive, we always advocate on behalf of readers to have and maintain continued access to the largest eBook catalog from our partner libraries and schools. With evolving eBook and digital business rules, OverDrive must constantly adapt to the distribution rights and restrictions that authors and publishers require for library lending of their intellectual property. It’s our important role – and core to our mission – to advocate on behalf of our partner libraries, while upholding publisher usage requirements.
As a result of OverDrive’s cooperation with hundreds of forward-thinking librarians, we are proud to have the largest available catalog of popular eBook and digital content for library lending, negotiated over years, from nearly one thousand supplying publishers. Yes, we are navigating new terrain and challenges every day, while at the same time adding thousands of new titles from dozens of new suppliers who have joined the public library eBook lending channel – all as a result of this existing marketplace.
OverDrive always seeks to obtain the broadest catalog rights and permissions. We also advocate that the investment our library partners make in their OverDrive digital catalogs (cost of materials, MARC records, promoting audience, and decreasing staff costs) provides the highest return with growing circulation and turnover, while honoring the obligations we have from publishers and authors.
We serve a growing network of libraries, schools, corporations, government agencies and institutions, and every week add new publishers and thousands of new eBook titles. Each publisher or author has the ability, on a title-by-title basis, to set the permissions, copyright protection settings, price, and other rules associated with digital lending of their eBook or other digital content. These permissions are constantly under review by publishers, authors, agents, their associations, and many others that impact how we grow our catalog, which now exceeds more than 500,000 digital titles. Under the permissions set by authors and publishers, 99.9% of US public libraries served by OverDrive have access to the exact same catalog of eBook, audiobook, music, and video titles.
Here are a few of the restrictions and rules that publishers and authors require for access to their materials,which have been communicated to OverDrive’s library partners:
- Geographic and Territorial Rights: Publishers make their content available based on the geographic territory for which they have rights, expressed on a title-by-title basis. This is why our Canadian, UK and Australian libraries see different catalogs when they log into Content Reserve/Marketplace.
- Library, School, or Special Library Markets: Select suppliers (publishers, film studios, music labels, etc.) have the ability to (and a few do) make their content available only to schools or only to public libraries This may be because the supplier has granted “exclusive” rights to other publishers for these markets, or the publisher may have its own sales force that calls on accounts in these markets.
- Different Formats and Different Re-distribution Rights: In some cases, multiple publishers may have the same book available, each providing different formats or different geographic permissions. As a result, we occasionally experience changes to title availability where a publisher or author signs a new distribution agreement that alters these rights.
- Connection to Library Service Area: As Steve Potash communicated in writing to every one of our library partners earlier this year, select publishers set restrictions on their catalogs where the library allows access to the library’s digital collection by card holders that have no connection to the library’s service area. We are constantly working with library IT teams to test and validate patrons’ card status, before they can download copyrighted materials. In very few cases, where an institution does not restrict download access to only patrons with connections to their service area (such as residents, students, property or business owners) there may be limits on access to select publishers’ catalogs.
Every day we are engaged in discussions and negotiations with publishers along with upgrading our Content Reserve distribution platform to encourage publishers’ participation in the largest catalog of eBook, audiobook, music and video suppliers available for library lending. Increased and continued publisher participation is enabled by providing authors and publishers the ability to control how, where, and when their titles are made available for your selection. We take our trusted position very seriously, and are investing in our role to provide you with a growing “marketplace” of digital content.
To that end, if you ever have any questions or concerns about your service, please contact your OverDrive Account Specialist directly. We make every effort to get back to you within 24 hours. In this age of Internet gratification, we know news spreads fast and need to ensure what we communicate is accurate, objective, courteous and professional.
Karen Estrovich is manager of collection development for OverDrive.
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