> When I was a kid, if I went to the local library and wanted to
> borrow a kiddie-sound thing that was on a cassette, the library would run off a copy and circulate the copy with me.
When I arrived at the University of Texas there was a standing procedure of taping every LP that was acquired, and circulating that tape instead of the LP. I pointed out that the practice was illegal. It took me two years but finally our office of general counsel agreed with me. At that time, c.1983, the law allowed a library to acquire a dub of something provided they had a copy of the original and that their original could not be replaced at a "reasonable" price. In short, the procedure described above was illegal. A library can own and circulate the object, but it does not normally own the information contained in that object.
When I was in charge of the circulating collection of CDs, knowing the relatively fragile nature of the format, I would add mulitiple copies of discs given as donations. This was done knowing the limited shelf life of a circulating collection. Sadly, without regard for these realities, subsequent management places such additional donated copies in surplus sales.
As for the question of the right libraries have to circulate digital information, as we all know, libraries aren't the only ones having difficulty defining rights...