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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Friday, April 27, 2007

    e-Books: Is DRM crippling?

    On the face of it, you can do little more (or even no more) to contravene copyright with an e-book than you can with a book: make copies/photocopy; cut-and-paste/copy; and so on. In fact, arguably you can do less with an e-book. If I buy a book - one of those old-fashioned paper things - I am free to lend it, sell it or give it to someone else; I am also free to read it any room of any house/library/university/building in which I happen to be... simply by taking it out of my pocket! This is not true of the e-book which, by-and-large, is only available on a limited number of workstations and is unavailable for passing on to friends and relatives.

    This is the point made in a posting on Wired's Gadget Lab Blog, Killed By DRM: e-Books. And why are publishers so concerned that digital copies will loose their authors (and themselves) revenue? Simply, because in an electronic environment with no DRM, copying entire books is so much easier than photocopying - and with easy copying comes easy distribution. You only have to look at the music industry and its history with Napster. But...
    With the masters of digital music finally relenting and offering DRM-free tracks, it's time to kill e-book rights management once and for all: give us we want, in the file format we want, and you get our money. Once. (Killed by DRM: e-Books)
    Certainly, if we are talking about e-book collections made available through a library, there is a need for a licence, and the terms of the licence will set out how many users can read a title at one time, who the library's users are (e.g. on campus, distance learners, staff, students...) and so on, but when it comes to the latest Louis De Bernieres, which I shall probably read once and pass on to my mother, I'm with Wired on this.

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