Comment scraped into Arcturus
Does Electronic Delivery (even Secure Electronic Delivery) REQUIRE DRM?
This is at the heart of my argument. Owen Stephens has given a careful and useful reply and since he is the only Librarian in the UK taking this up with me I’ll take time to reply. I’ll comment in detail (with a few snips) and then continue my case.
Owen Stephens says:
I should be clear up front that I’m not defending the use of DRM for this purpose […] When I talk about ‘advantages’ – the two key advantages that I see to the BL SED system are:
Speed – items can be delivered more quickly
Cost – it is cheaper to process electronic copies, especially when they are delivered directly to the requesting reader (adopting your preferred terminology!) – which is an option the BL have always offered
I think these both offer advantages to the reader – speed I think is direct advantage, whereas reducing cost clearly offers overall opportunities to the community of users if not to users directly on an individual basis (although I concede that cost savings are sometimes just cost savings, and don’t confer any particular benefit)
PMR: I am complete agreement so far. I haven’t seen “DRM” in the above paragraphs. Maybe I’m technologically ignorant. But I get e-publications from commercial publishers which don’t appear to have any DRM – and certainly not anything that stops cut and pasting, self-destructs, etc. The publishers have a very clear stranglehold over the University – if they think that I am breaching the rules they switch off the supply of articles and this is frequent.
Whether you think these advantages outweigh the disadvantages (I would argue) is a different matter. Clearly you don’t – and I can absolutely see your argument.
PMR I don’t see yours at all, so far. I’m clearly missing something.
I would absolutely agree that the DRM completely hobbles the use of these electronic copies, and I agree completely with the point about trust. I also completely agree that delivering articles without the DRM would be much much better for the reader. What I think you miss is that it would also be a big benefit for the library and institution – DRM costs time and money to implement (e.g. see discussions about rolling out the ‘FileOpen’ software to all computers in a University on the LIS-ILL discussion list), and problems caused by DRM (e.g. inability to open a file) take time for library staff to resolve.
PMR: I absolutely fail to see the benefit (unless FileOpen or ADE is much cheaper than ordinary PDF readers. (I am not even in this reply railing against PDF – I can manage a hamburger, but this is simply burnt to charcoal).
I think one challenge for libraries is that for some readers the utility of getting an item delivered quickly, by email is high enough to outweigh the costs – and for others not. Librarian’s have a choice as to whether they provide the service, or hold out for a better deal. I would draw a parallel between this and discussions about the BBC and DRM on iPlayer streams – many people think it is wrong for the BBC to apply DRM to their online offering. The BBC (and others) argue that without this they would not be able to provide the content online at all.
[discussion on “user” snipped.]
PMR: So I am mystified. The rest of the suppliers of academic e-material (Elsevier, ACS, Nature, etc.) send normal unmutilated PDFs. There is no special software. We could, if we wished, send copies to the whole world. But if we break the rules and they find out we get cut off. Why can’t the BL do the same? They know who it’s going to. I have filled out a form in blood and sent it by carrier pigeon so speed is irrelevant. If I foul up I burn in hell.
So what’s so special about the BL? It can tell the users that they must obey the 1989 Copyright regulations and if they don’t they go to the Tower of London. Are they EXPLICITLY required by law to impose DRM? If so, I’ll shut up. If not, they can behave in a reasonable way like a reasonable person (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasonable_person ). When they sent out photocopies they didn’t use vanishing ink – they told people the law said they could only make one copy. Why not the same here?
What am I missing?