Magazine article Information Today

Digital Rights Management Track. (Internet Librarian 2002)

Magazine article Information Today

Digital Rights Management Track. (Internet Librarian 2002)

Article excerpt

When, I attend an information packed conference, I'm usually not intrigued enough by any one track to stay in it for a whole day and forsake all the other offerings. But at Internet Librarian I broke with tradition and spent an entire day in a track titled "DRM: Promise, Threat, or Tool for Libraries?" It's a shame that each session was sparsely populated, because this track had a great group of speakers and the most comfortable seats in the house.

DRM (digital rights management) is a deep topic that even a whole day's worth of presentations couldn't completely demystify. The fact that there's no widely agreed-upon definition is further complicated by the idea that DRM solutions must serve so many people's interests: content creators, publishers, aggregators, distributors, and buyers.

A few vendors are creating DRM software that will allow searchers to instantly clear copyright and pay for information they've found. With these digital payment tools in place, scholars can get to and use full text and have their payments go back to the publishers. Through the magic of statistics, publishers would know which authors' work made money. This way, they could hopefully go one step further and pay the appropriate copyright fees to the authors.

Automating this process is obviously a good thing. DRM further simplifies life by allowing its users to avoid having a "patchwork quilt of agreements" (as it was labeled by Dave Davis of the Copyright Clearance Center). But designing the software is a multilayered work in progress. Although some packages are available now, vendors continue to strive for products with even greater functionality.

Because the speakers in this track represented the interests of DRM software vendors, publishers, users, librarians, and lawyers, there wasn't a consensus or a nice end-of-day summary that I can pass along. …

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