ot long ago, digital technologies were regarded as being entirelybeneficial to the work of librarians, because such technologieswere already enabling greater access to collected materials, greaterease and searching or organizing such materials, and greater ability toreproduce and archive creative works, historical documents, scholarlyresearch, and other important resources.
At its heart, this early perception of the usefulness of digital tools remains essentially correct
. Nevertheless, the digitalrevolution has also inspired the development of a range of technologicaltools and strategies aimed at restricting the ease with which the resourcescollected and maintained by libraries can be used, circulated, excerpted,and reproduced.These technological tools and strategies are generally referred to as “
”-- a term commonly reduced to the acronym “DRM.”
To put the matter another way: “digital rights management” is a collectivename for technologies that prevent you from using a copyrighted digitalwork beyond the degree to which the copyright owner (or a publisher whomay not actually hold a copyright) wishes to allow you to use it. The
purpose of this paper is to familiarize librarians, archivists, and otherswith DRM and how it works.
, this paper will outlinecertain legal and policy issues that are raised by DRM -- issues that will con-tinue to have an increasing impact on the ways in which librarians andlibraries perform their functions.
To put the matter bluntly -- understanding thebasics of DRM is becoming a necessary part of the work of librarians.
DRM also, of course, has an effect on how copyright law functions in oursociety. Librarians often have relied on the provisions of copyright law toensure that libraries can perform their proper functions. But DRMtechnologies can be used to “trump” copyright law by depriving librarians --
Office for Information Technology Policy
OITP Technology Policy Brief
Digital Rights Management: A Guide for Librarians
American Library Association
Copyright and DRM
January, 2006Page 1
Prepared by Michael Godwin
1In international policy-making circles, such as the World Intellectual PropertyOrganization (a division of the United Nations), another term is as common as -- orperhaps more common than -- “digital rights management.” That term is“technological protection measures” (frequently abbreviated as “TPM”). Themeanings of “DRM” and “TPM” are not precisely the same; the latter term alsoencompasses non-digital protection technologies such as those used to preventanalog videotapes from being copied. Nevertheless, the terms are often used inter-changeably in policy circles. In general, this paper will stick to the terms “digitalrights management” and “DRM.”