DRM Impact on Permitted Acts – Library Uses


(Photo credits: Here’s Kate)

The CDPA 1988 provides libraries with a number of permitted uses to copy some works without infringing copyright. Such uses include copying and supplying copies for the purpose of non-commercial research or private study, making and supplying copies to other libraries, and copying to replace items in the libraries own collection.

Patricia Akester wrote a paper showing the first empirical assessment of the impact of DRM on such permitted uses. In regard to copyright related limitations on the libraries functions, the paper indicates that the librarian’s biggest problem does not come from DRM, but from restrictive licensing agreements that override allowed uses of copyright works and include restrictions on copying (e.g. restrictions on percentage that can be copied, the number of times copies can be made, the medium of the copy, etc) and these restrictions do prevent archiving and inter-library loans.

However, DRM did also restrict the ability of some libraries to fulfill their task, especially in relation to digital preservation as works with DRM can only be accessed through the specific manufacturers devices and programs, meaning that the content becomes inaccessible if the manufacturer decides to withdraw the product from the market. (“Once a DRM system becomes technologically obsolescenet, works protected by that system become inaccessible long before the expiry of copyright.”)

Akester quoted the Digital Preservation Architect of the British Library:

“Unlike physical books or newspapers, works in digital format do not stand-alone, requiring considerable support infrastructure (in the form of hardware and software) to be usable and there are concerns as to the longevity and support of the platform technology”.

Another related DRM problem to preservation is the limitation of DRM on duplicating content which is an “essential and unavoidable preservation requirement”. An obvious example of this is the technological restriction on copying DVDs.

Libraries feel that they need to have the right to receive DRM free versions of the items deposited or the right to circumvent DRM.

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