December 30, 2021
Comment from Maria A. Pallante, President and CEO, Association of American Publishers on New York State Governor Kathy Hochul’s Decision to Veto Unconstitutional eBooks Bill
On December 29, 2021, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed a bill put forth by the legislature that posed an unjustified attack on the creative industries of New York. Shockingly, the bill would have forced authors, publishers, and other copyright owners to grant involuntary, digital licenses to New York public libraries under state-imposed terms, in full conflict with the U.S. Copyright Act and the comprehensive purpose that it serves. The bill attached penalties for non-compliance, effectively chilling copyright owners from pursuing the full benefit of their copyright interests and literary properties within the state.
“We thank Governor Hochul for taking decisive action to protect the legal framework that has long incentivized the American private sector to invest in, publish, and distribute original works of authorship to the public, in service to society. The bill that she vetoed was rushed through the state legislature in response to a coordinated, misinformation campaign supported by Big Tech interests and lobbying groups that are notorious for wanting to weaken copyright protections for their own gain.
Contrary to the rhetoric employed by the bill’s proponents, there is no such thing as mild harm or minor preemption when it comes to violating the U.S. Constitution, and there is nothing judicious about undermining the free expression protections and licensing decisions that make books and other invaluable creative works possible and sustainable in the first place. It goes without saying that publishers strongly support public libraries, without which the world would surely have fewer readers. But today the Governor has affirmed that New York has a deep appreciation and enduring respect for the cultural and economic contributions of authors and publishers, and a clear understanding that our public libraries also depend upon a vibrant creative economy.”