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Old 02-03-2006, 08:06 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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Libraries express DRM concerns

Libraries may become an unexpected ally in the fight against oppressive DRM. The same problems faced by consumers that have DRM schemes imposed on them are also problems for libraries, but on a bigger scale. A BBC news article says "Libraries fear digital lockdown."

Here are some of their concerns:
* When technology changes, the material may become unavailable to people in the future
* Restrictions from DRM may last much longer than the period of time that the material is protected by copyright law, effectively extending copyright terms in a de facto manner. There is no automatic expiration of DRM to match copyright periods.
* Even when copyrights expire, there would probably be no key for libraries to use to unlock the DRM

The British Library writes that "excessive control on access to information [using DRM technologies]"... "will fundamentally threaten the longstanding and accepted concepts of fair dealing and library privilege and undermine, or even prevent, legitimate public good access."

(via Slashdot )
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Old 02-03-2006, 10:27 PM   #2
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Wherever DRM exists, it can eventually be broken, if there is enough motivation... Thus making the DRM useless.

iTunes? Broken. LIT? Broken. DVD (CSS)? Broken.

People wanted to break them, so they broke them. Just make it available in a non-DRM format, and let copyright law handle the people who ignore copyrights. As has been said many times... DRM will only inconvenience the legitimate user. (The same has been said for software activation/registration and other similar things, too.)

These libraries definitely have a good point. A paper book will always be usable, barring either compete degradation of the media (paper) or an inability to understand the format (whatever language the text is written in). A DRM'd file, however, may not always be usable once the DRM decoding program is lost or unusable. And then there's also the concern of the media degrading (optical disc or hard drive or flash memory), and the concern of the format being unreadable (in this case, the electronic format, such as PDF - a more legitimate concern than the language being unreadable as is the case with paper books).
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Old 02-04-2006, 05:48 AM   #3
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Let me be the devil's advocate for a moment (in other words, this commentary does not necessarily represent my true beliefs).

I presume that many libraries have another, hidden agenda. In fact, it could be argued that e-books are a general threat to libraries. Since early ages of mankind, libraries have been the greatest archives of knowledge. In 400 A.D., the library at Alexandria was by far the greatest storehouse of information that the world had ever known. Libraries have been essential to the free flow of ideas and to maintaining, increasing and spreading knowledge.

Today libraries are being slowly replaced by digital content providers and search engine giants. The latter are becoming the second most important repository of knowledge. E-books are digitally stored and don't require the physical space p-books stored in a library would require. What's more, e-books are not unique. They can be easily reproduced and shared among content providers, new and old. In traditional libraries, on the other hand, you find unique collection of books, pamphlets, periodicals, leaflets, posters, campaigning documents, watercolors, artefacts and archival material that cannot be easily duplicated. Before, it was virtually impossible to replace one library with another. In short: the barrier-to-entry has fallen.

Assume for a moment that DRM was not existant (a librarian's wish come true, one would think) and that all written knowledge will eventually be available as e-content. At the end, what's a library's right to exist other than to function as a museum to collect and preserve such artefacts as paper books?

It's true that some of the country's major libraries are supporting Google's digital library project. They have no other choice. Even though they'd be better off without e-content, those libraries reason that as long as they "follow the trend of digitalization" they have a chance to survive, even if it's just for the short run.
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Old 02-04-2006, 05:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobR
Restrictions from DRM may last much longer than the period of time that the material is protected by copyright law, effectively extending copyright terms in a de facto manner. There is no automatic expiration of DRM to match copyright periods.
Not an issue to the big copyright holders. They are working to make sure that copyrights never expire. Therefore DRM not expiring is not an issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos
Wherever DRM exists, it can eventually be broken, if there is enough motivation... Thus making the DRM useless.
Which is why the big copyright holders paid for the DMCA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Dunstan
Today libraries are being slowly replaced by digital content providers and search engine giants.
Without a doubt. In the eBook World, libraries face the same irrelevance as publishers. In the end, there will be only a handful of libraries (because having only 1 copy of all works is a bad idea) which will be no more than very large file servers where you can search for the books you want (Why does Google Books come to mind?).
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Old 02-04-2006, 11:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos
Wherever DRM exists, it can eventually be broken, if there is enough motivation... Thus making the DRM useless.
Hey Chaos,

This isn't actually the case. All workable systems can be broken. Like with encryption in the wider sense, it doesn't become useless if its broken. It only becomes useless when the cost of breaking becomes negligible.

The Hardware locking of Windows XP or Norton is DRM really, and it was broken ages ago. But fore most people the time and knowhow cost of going onto the P2Ps and downloading countless files that don't actually work is enough to dissuade the majority from breaking the DRM.



xxx

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Old 02-05-2006, 01:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
When technology changes, the material may become unavailable to people in the future
It should be noted that this is not just an issue with DRM'd data; it is an issue with ALL data no matter the format.

The television industry recorded thousands of hours of material on 2" quad tape. Good luck actually finding a 2" quad player in good working order today. 1" B and C tape units are also getting thin on the ground.

I could probably dig up some old CP/M diskettes that I would never be able to read today. First, I'd have to find an 8" floppy drive, then find a machine hooked up to it capable of running CP/M. Then I'd have to actually find a working copy of Wordstar.

DRM isn't even an issue in either of these scenarios; it just makes the situation worse.

Incidentally, iTunes is not currently broken. v6 broke JusTune.
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