UoL Library Blog

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Rust, DRM and the British Library

Posted by gazjjohnson on 24 May, 2010

With my document Supply hat on I was interested to read Peter Murray Rust’s post the other day on DRM (Digital Rights Management) and the British Library; and I’ll admit I found myself nodding in agreement with some of his comments. That said while the system previously adopted using the Adobe Digital Edition platform has had a few niggles over the years, on the whole for our users it has worked ok. I am pleased to say that the BL is moving away from this to the FileOpen platform which by all accounts is much more trouble free; and we’ll be hopefully moving to this in coming months (once I’ve tested it thoroughly and prepared the appropriate publicity and training).

On the other hand reading the latter half of Peter’s post, I would disagree with quite a few of his comments aimed at librarians.  Academic libraries have to be cautious with copyright as publishers are notoriously litigious over their IPR  being redistributed, and organisations like the CLA keep an oversight that we don’t step out of line.  But why are the publishers able to swing such a mighty hammer over article copyright?  Only because many, many academics continue to perpetuate the gifting approach to publishing – giving away their rights in an article to publishers for publication.  Once these rights are given away, legally we librarians have to abide by the rules or risk penalties.

How can the situation be changed?  Only by academics themselves taking closer account of their publication habits, since they’re the one’s the publisher’s truly listen to.  It’s the same old open access message – think before you ascribe all rights to a publisher, consider using the SPARC addendum to retain rights to deposit in your open access repository, learn what your funder requires of you, and lobby publishers with whom you have a relation to develop or maintain fairer policies to the distribution of scholarly research funded out of the public purse.

Only in this way can the shackles of the BL’s license agreement with publishers be loosened, and only then will we see a reduction in the severity DRM terms of use.

The ball is, very much, in the academics’ court.

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3 Responses to “Rust, DRM and the British Library”

  1. AJ Cann said

    No it isn’t. While academic’s jobs continue to rely on impact-factor driven bibliometric exercises like RAE and REF, they have little choice but to publish where they can. And before you say publish in open access journals, please re-read the previous sentence (and tell me where the three thousand quid per paper author fee comes from).

    • All fair points Alan, though please do continue to use whatever influence you have with publishers to keep/move them to an open access friendly approach. Only togehter can we change the scholalry publication landscape.

      That said, I do believe Peter’s rather off the mark railing at librarians for the BL’s DRM. Though until open access truly comes of age I suspect that DRM will remain an issue.

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