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The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Sunday, May 07 2006 @ 10:35 AM EDT

My grandmother was a research librarian. If you live in a small town, you may not know what that is, but if you live anywhere near New York City, you know that if you are working on a research project, or even if you just want to know what makes the sky blue, you can call the NYC Public Library and ask to speak to the research department, and a research librarian will help you find what you are looking for. Before there was a Google, there were research librarians like my grandmother.

Of course, nowadays, you can chat live with a librarian online. And the kinds of things my grandmother kept in her head are now pages of online info, and there are instructions on that page on how to find a research librarian to help with questions by email or phone. You still can benefit from research librarians' skills, because, as this page puts it, "Whether it's searching the Internet, contacting a trade association, or finding facts from books, journals, government documents, or online databases, our professionally trained information specialists know the quickest way to find accurate information...from seconds ago or centuries ago."

If you saw the old movie, The Desk Set, my grandmother was the Katharine Hepburn character.

And a character she was, indeed. I loved my grandmother, and I was like a little barnacle any time she was around. For some years when I was a little girl, she lived with us, and I'd have to say she was the dominant influence in my young life, because I both loved and admired her. It was my grandmother who taught me how to write. I wonder what she'd make of libraries today. I wish I could ask her. Isn't death the worst thing? I'd give anything to ask her what she thinks libraries should do about lending digital copies of books. I'm sure she'd have something useful and interesting to say, my dear, brainy grandmother. It's a major question that all libraries now face, and after researching what one library is doing, the British Library, using Microsoft's .NET framework and a system they call Digital Object Management or DOM, I think the answer they've arrived is altering the very meaning of what a library is, what it's for, and who it benefits.

My grandmother worked in an era when women didn't work unless they absolutely had to. And she had to, first because she came from farm folk who didn't have a lot, and so she taught school in a little one-room schoolhouse (well, two rooms) with a pot belly stove to heat the room and she'd trudge through feet of snow to get to the school early and get the stove going. She was so relieved when my grandfather showed up in her life and she didn't have to teach like that any more. Then after a happy interlude of marriage and family, my grandfather died suddenly and prematurely from scarlet fever, and she taught school again, high school this time, in more established settings. He got it from drinking water on a train, the family story went, and I was taught never to drink water on trains, because, my grandmother said, it came from ice blocks that melted, and people were not careful to be clean.

We'd have tea together every day when I was little, just the two of us, only my tea was what she called cambric tea, namely hot water with milk and sugar, in pretty little cups, and she would tell me stories about her life. My favorite story was about her going to a dance with my grandfather, before they were engaged, and her petticoat fell down to the floor. She fell in love with him on the spot, because he just reached down and scooped it up and waltzed her out of the room, as if nothing extraordinary had happened and it wasn't the most humiliating moment in her life. My grandfather was a character too, but that's a story for another day. She taught me many valuable things, like how to deal with adversity, and she taught me values by telling those stories.

That is how I know quite a lot about libraries. She taught me how to use the card system. They'd have rows and rows of wooden file cabinets with drawer after drawer of index cards, so you could find where things were located in the library. That is how, when I first read about Google's books project, I knew instantly that what they are wanting to do is to set up a kind of digital version of those index cards, not to "steal" the books, but so we all would know where to find them. When she was first widowed, she taught school, but later she decided to go to graduate school and switched careers in mid-life to become a librarian. My grandmother was never afraid to try new things.

It was she who introduced me to London, her favorite city, when I turned 15. And because I wanted to see Paris, she took me there too, although she didn't speak a word of French, and we had an absolute blast. She was such a fun person, always ready for an adventure. I was old enough to realize though that Paris is for when you are a bit older and not with your grandmother. She kept a very watchful eye, which taught me something important too, now that I think of it.

So my grandmother was self-made, through real effort and hard work, a survivor, and she truly enjoyed a very long and unusually interesting life. Becoming a librarian meant she had a more comfortable time from then on, because she ended up head of the department, and she worked for many years after the normal retirement year, because she just loved it, and she was so valuable, the library blinked at the regulations. Years later, when I read Langston Hughes' poem, Mother to Son, it reminded me of my grandmother's grit and determination and flair for life:

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor--
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on.
And reachin' landin's, and turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it kinder hard.
Don't you fall now--
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

When her husband died, her mother told her something very much like that, although in her own cultural style. My mother still has the letter. And in the letter my great-grandmother told my grandmother to view the terrible tragedy in her life as an opportunity to teach her offspring what it means to endure in God's strength. Everyone in those days was religious, I think, in America anyway, or at least, like Mark Twain, they pretended to be. But my great-grandmother was sincerely so. Such folk saw challenges as a way to show that they knew how to rely on God to meet life's hard knocks with dignity and to build and refine character. It is, to me, a beautiful letter, and my grandmother lived it and she endured what could not be changed, and she didn't sit down on the stair because she found it "kinder hard". She had several opportunites to marry again, but she loved my grandfather so much, she just never could quite say yes to anyone else. Instead, she invented a new and full life, travelled a great deal, loved her job, which she thought was important, made many friends, and she was happy, despite the hole in her heart that never fully healed. I don't know, though, if she'd want to be a librarian in the digital age.

Everyone realizes that technology means people can copy and share digitally, and so what should a library do? Here is the NY Public Library's page on copyright and how it impacts their services. They say they can find the hard to find, and even if they don't have the document you want, they'll find it for you. That was my grandmother's job, finding the hard to find, and she enjoyed it. I guess you could say the apple didn't fall too far from the tree.

Libraries are looking for ways to loan digital works while respecting copyright law. There has always been a certain tension between libraries and publishers, because the latter want everyone to pay for a book or article, and if you don't have the money, too bad for you. Libraries, on the other hand, traditionally want to make knowledge available to all. It's the heart of what they are, or what they traditionally have been. But since my grandmother's day, we have new, top-heavy copyright laws, with the entertainment moguls pushing for what suits them sitting on top, and once RIAA lawyers get in the mix, you know how complicated everything gets, and so libraries have to be careful to set policies that comply with the law. It's hard. Here's the dignified way the NY Public Library does so, posting a notice about copyright law and what it means to you.

So, I can search for one of the books my grandmother introduced me to when I was a child, the Betsy-Tacy series, and it will tell me which branch library has the book to borrow, and I can read a chapter of the book online to see if it's worth the trip. You will see the copyright information is prominently displayed, so you know it isn't public domain, and you can behave accordingly. It is obvious that they could make the entire book available digitally, not just the first chapter, and eventually that is exactly what will happen to all books, because people are acclimating to the Internet and no one wants to drive to Long Island or the Bronx or whatever to borrow a book, when they know it can be easily emailed to them at nearly zero cost to anyone after the first copy is scanned in. (I can search instead for the Betsy-Tacy books on Google, and as you can see, they provide considerably less in the way of text, for those of you in a panic about Google Books.

But, then what? What about copyright? If the library can email it to me, I can email it right on to you and you and you, or put it on BitTorrent, if I don't respect the law. Of course, there are a lot of laws that depend on simple compliance. I can kill someone with a knife from my kitchen drawer, if I decide I don't care about the law forbidding murder, and the knife doesn't arrive with any kind of device to prevent it. I'm on my honor to keep the law. Not everyone does, of course, but we don't ban knives, because they are useful for chopping up vegetables. So we rely upon enforcement of the law, not predictive prevention by mechanical means.

But with copyright, for some reason it is perceived as not enough. Indeed, the library has an ebook collection, and music and videos too. How does it work? If I want to read "Macromedia Flash 8 for Dummies," for example, I can borrow the ebook for 21 days, and, while most of their books come with prohibitions on copying, I can copy this book ten times in a seven day period, and there are no restrictions on printing pages, remarkably enough. This indicates a couple of authors who are not paranoid, and I commend them. Even in a digital age, you can still act like a human being, if you so choose. Creative Commons licenses make that possible too. But if I want to borrow The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I can't. They don't have it. They do have an audio version, and you can transfer it to CD and transfer to a device. It's a system from a company called OverDrive, which strikes me as a funny name for a restriction system. After 21 days, the book "returns" itself, because the files expire and I won't be able to open or listen to the book any more, assuming I have no l33t skillz and no criminal inclinations. In case I do suffer from the latter, there is a copyright notice at the bottom of the page that leads to a page that lets me know that copyright law covers digital copies too:

Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials

The laws of copyright protect the digital content ("Content") that is made available in this Software (as defined in the Digital Content License Section of the OverDrive Terms and Conditions of Use "Agreement"). See Copyrights in the Content are held by their respective owners.

You may use the Content for personal use only, any commercial use is prohibited. The Content and any other copyrighted material may not be modified, copied, distributed, shared, displayed, emailed, transmitted, sold or otherwise transferred, conveyed or used, in a manner inconsistent with the Agreement, use of the Software or rights of the copyright owner.

Now, that book is in the public domain in the US, so I'll probably just get it without any rights restrictions from Project Gutenberg and read it aloud myself. Thank you to all the volunteers who work to make those books available. The OverDrive license says basically the same thing, with more words and more warnings. Here's the heart of it:

Digital Content License. When you "clickout" or otherwise "download" (referred to herein, collectively as "Download") Content from the OverDrive Service, OverDrive grants you a limited, revocable, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to download or stream such Digital Content to your computer and/or your Device(s) solely for your personal non-commercial use. You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute or use the Digital Content in any other manner. You shall not sell, transfer, lease, modify, distribute or publicly perform the Digital Content in any manner and you shall not exploit it commercially. Do not (A) decompile, disassemble, or reverse engineer the Digital Content or attempt to do so; or (B) modify the Digital Content or create any derivative works therefrom. This license to the Digital Content you Download will continue for as long as your copy of Digital Content exists pursuant to and in accordance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement. ...

Security, Cracking and Hacking. You shall not violate or attempt to violate the security of the OverDrive Service. Accordingly, you shall not: (i) access data or materials not intended for you; (ii) log into a server or account which you are not authorized to access; or (iii) attempt to probe, scan or test the vulnerability of a system or network or to breach security or authentication measures without proper authorization. Violations of system or network security may result in civil or criminal liability. We reserve the right to investigate occurrences which may involve such violations and may involve, and cooperate with, law enforcement authorities in prosecuting users who have participated in such violations. You agree that it is your responsibility to install anti-virus software and related protections against viruses, Trojan horses, worms, time bombs, cancelbots or other computer programming routines or engines that are intended to damage, destroy, disrupt or otherwise impair a computer's functionality or operation which may be transferred to your computer via the OverDrive server.

Hmm. That last paragraph takes us into a new zone. If I want to listen to the Tom Sawyer audiobook, I must install antivirus software? I discern they assume we are all using Windows. (Actually, the NY Public Library accommodates Apple software too, although they seem never to have heard about GNU/Linux users.) But I'm not using Windows. Still, that requirement is in the license. To be law-abiding, I'd have to install software I don't need or want. Plus, there is something that doesn't feel quite right about being told what one must do with one's own property, and my computer is mine. But I suppose my remedy is not to use the service.

But let's say I can swallow that part, understanding as I do the horrors that Windows users experience and that the regulation is for the common good. What, though, about the part where I must promise not to use the material in any way other than to read it? What about fair use? Poof. It's gone. Fair use is part of copyright law too, of course, but they don't mention it in any way, so unless I happened to know about it, the license appears to forbid it. And if I accept that license, have I contracted away my fair use rights?

They have a privacy policy too, which essentially says that unless you give them the info they need about yourself, you can't use the service. So, one difference between now and my grandmother's day is that reading involves being tracked in ways no one used to do. Of course, my grandmother knew what you were researching, but there was no databank that was retained with such personal information as your credit card. If I want a book badly enough, and don't wish to travel, the truth is, I'd probably still sign up and do this. But it does have a feel to it that is different from borrowing a book in meat space, doesn't it?

It is presumed by some that we are all criminally inclined nowadays. Sadly, the truth is, a few of us are. (Most of us aren't, but some of us can see that technology has changed everything, but that's another issue.) My grandmother would likely point that out. She stopped teaching because she noticed a change in her students, that over time there was less and less respect shown to authority and she said she ended up spending too much time trying to maintain some order in the classroom and less on teaching, and it became both boring and disturbing to her, so that is why she switched careers. And the truth is, if everyone in the world showed respect to others, there would be no need for elaborate DRM protections, because you could just say, "You can use this for your personal use, but please don't use it commercially or put it on the Internet" and we'd all comply. It's simply the case that the worse people behave, the stricter the laws tend to become. So there is a certain amount of karma in this picture. But why isn't it enough to let people know the law and then enforce it against those that break the law?

Draconian DRM is undeniably altering what a library is and how knowledge can be found and used. It alters not only what libraries are like; it alters the way copyright law works, without anyone passing a law. And it makes corporations like Adobe enforcers of the law and of whatever restrictions authors and publishers choose to place on top of the law. Where is the statute that says how many times you can copy something within what time frame? Who decides what is fair? Who passed a law banning fair use rights? You may say that authors are free to set the terms, but at least under US Copyright Law, that isn't the case. Fair use limits what they can prevent. As this article, "DRM, Trusted Computing, and the Future of our Children," points out, DRM alters the way copyright is enforced:

The biggest buzzword in DRM right now is 'Trusted Computing'. This is about creating a way for companies to trust your computer with their copyrighted material (rather than anything to do with consumers trusting their computers). For several years Intel have been included a 'Trusted Computing' encryption chip on motherboards, and when Windows Vista is released it will support this framework. For the first time there will be a very solid and secure way for a publisher to determine if your machine has the right to play their copyrighted material. When you try to play a movie, it will check with their server to see if your Trusted Computer has the correct permissions. If you attempt to run an illegitimate file, your computer will refuse. No matter what you do, a chip on your motherboard will refuse to cooperate.

This is a very strange approach to copyright enforcement. It means that when you buy a copyrighted file, you don't actually have the permission to use it. Your computer has the permission. The file won't work on another computer, or your mobile phone, or your PDA, or your heavily modified XBOX. It's a bit like selling a person a book, but designing it so that people cannot read it in the bath (or in the garden or in the kitchen). Instead of finding a way to stop the end user giving illegitimate copies of a work to other people, this type of DRM is about controlling the right to copy work for any purpose, and in the process it determines the end user consumption method and options as well.

Would you like to see what a more fully DRM-loving library looks like? Take a look at the British Library. The British Library's motto is "The world's knowledge." For example, here's how they describe themselves:

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest libraries. The collections include more than 150 million items, in over 400 languages, to which three million new items are added every year. We house books, magazines, manuscripts, maps, music scores, newspapers, patents, databases, philatelic items, prints and drawings and sound recordings.

On their "Digital Object Management" page, they add this:

Under longstanding Legal Deposit legislation the Library receives a copy of every printed publication produced in the UK and Ireland. We also purchase materials extensively from around the world.

Technological developments mean that we are now collecting an ever-increasing number of electronic items. These include

  • Digitised materials sourced in the UK, received under a voluntary arrangement with some publishers since January 2000
  • The digitisation of our own collections of newspapers, sound, etc
  • e-Journals
  • Cartographic data
  • Audio CDs and other sound items
  • Publishers' archives
  • The products of Web archiving

Beyond this, however, the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 (which should come into effect some time in 2006 or 2007) extends the present legislation and places legal requirements on us.

  • It enshrines the principle that electronic or e-publications and other non-print materials will be deposited in the Library

  • It ensures that these publications can be saved as part of the published archive, and become an important resource for future generations of researchers and scholars.

The processes needed to deal with electronic materials are intrinsically the same as those needed for traditional print materials, but the solutions need to be different.

The British Library's solution is Digital Object Management or DOM. And they explain their software choice:

Software tools

We have also assessed the choice of tools in building this storage sub-system. We have chosen to work in a Microsoft .NET framework, using BizTalk 2004 and C#. We have established that there are clear productivity and cost benefits from this approach. We have looked at DSpace, Fedora, and ePrints software for the digital repository system: none of these offer exactly what we need, although some design features are of interest.

So it's a Microsoft shop, with all that that implies for your privacy and usability and security. So let's say you wanted a digital copy of a document housed at the British Library. How does it work? Obviously, they won't just send it to you in the clear. They don't trust you or the law's ability to dissuade you from behaving criminally. So what is their solution? Here you will find the British Library's Document Supply Services services terms and conditions, which is too long to quote in full but which is horrific enough that I hope you do read it. What stands out is that they charge money to loan. Libraries don't traditionally cost anything, if you wish to borrow a book. That little shift changes the landscape utterly.

Individuals can't borrow digital materials anyway, as far as I can see. It's such a complicated system, I may not have it all figured out, which is another issue. But from what I see, individuals can only buy a license to read within a time frame. Only organizations can use the digital loan service. The library reserves the right to refuse you service. They also reserve the right to only send to your "registered address". The NY Public Libary, in contrast, will send your materials to you anywhere you happen to be, recognizing no doubt that people do travel and sometimes they are in a hurry and they registered at their home address, and don't want to have to run home to receive a digital copy. The British Library makes you buy, but you don't really get ownership of what you bought. There are no first sale rights, because you get timed documents. You are buying a kind of timed access during a window they set. Even if you're an organization and you get something on loan, you can't copy, scan or electronically store the materials they provide.

But that isn't enough to satisfy them. You also must first swear -- no kidding -- you are abiding by copyright law. Say....*what*? Who thinks up this stuff? Who do they think they are? You think I'm exaggerating, don't you? No. Take a look:

3.1 We will supply Copies via the Library Privilege Photocopy Service solely to those customers who confirm that they conform to the requirements of the following sections of the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (“the Act”) as amended from time to time including any Regulations made there under:
Sections 37-39;
Sections 41-42; and
Sections 45-50

3.2 The Library Privilege Photocopy Service is NOT available to You if You are:

3.2.1 registered as an individual;
3.2.2 located in the USA; or
3.2.3 a commercial organization except if located in the UK and requests are made under sections 45-50 of the Act

3.3 If you are located outside the UK, it is Your responsibility to confirm that You are not contravening Your own country’s legislation in receiving Copies provided by Us under the terms of the Library Privilege Photocopy Service.

3.4 If Your organisation is eligible to receive Copies under the Library Privilege Photocopy Service, You undertake that, for each Copy requested under:

3.4.1 Sections 38 and 39 of the Act (supply of copies for non-commercial research or private study purposes) by a member of Your organisation, You will obtain from such person a declaration substantially in accordance with the Act’s current Regulations (a current version of the declaration is available at or from Customer Services) and payment from such person at a rate as stipulated in the Act’s Regulations. If You do not obtain a signed declaration from the person making the request then You will deemed to be in breach of these Terms and Conditions and You may be liable for any costs or damages suffered by Us as a consequence of Our supplying such Copies on the understanding that such a declaration has been obtained. You (and the person giving such declaration) must not copy, scan, store electronically or further sell such Copies, unless You have a separate licence or agreement that specifically permits this;

You are allowed to print out one copy, and that is all, and must promise to delete the electronic copy:

4. Electronic Document Delivery

4.1 You undertake that any Copies delivered by any electronic method (including facsimile transmission) will not be processed, manipulated or retransmitted other than to enable a single copy on paper to be printed. In addition, You must ensure that all electronic versions of the Copy are deleted after successful printing unless specifically indicated otherwise on any message accompanying the Copy.

So cut that "manipulation" out. Document manipulation is verboten, whatever that means. When you order that digital document, you will be using what they call secure electronic delivery, which is a method of sending encrypted PDFs which you must print out within 14 days. Here's how it works:

To read and print documents sent to you by SED, you first need to download and install the full version of Adobe Reader 6.0 or later- earlier versions of Reader and the basic versions of Reader 6.0 or later won't let you open the encrypted PDF files. We recommend that you use at least version 6.0.1.

Once the software is installed, you need to activate the Digital Rights Management (DRM) function. If you have installed the latest version of Adobe Reader (version 6.0.1 or later), this happens automatically when you download a secure document. If you have version 6.0: connect to the internet, open Reader 6, then choose Tools > eBook Web Services > Adobe DRM Activator. Click 'Yes' to launch your web browser and connect to the Adobe DRM Activator web site. Then follow the on-screen prompts.

Once you have installed Adobe Reader, it's vital that you test that it's working. If you can read and print this test document, your copy of Adobe Reader is working and you can confidently receive your documents by SED.

You also must pay what they call a copyright fee:

Copyright Issues and Terms of Supply

All documents sent by Secure Electronic Delivery require the additional payment of a copyright fee. The only exception to this is for UK and Irish registered customers wanting either Standard or 24 hour delivery, who can ask for the Library Privilege service if they satisfy all other criteria.

If you ask for SED and don't use the Copyright Fee Paid service, your order is likely to be rejected.

A copyright fee? What is that for? They have a service for ordering documents, called Articles Direct. Because they are supplying digital copies of paper documents, they have special rules. Here are some of the terms and conditions for that service:

All documents are supplied under licences from rightsholders or their agent(s). We will charge a publication-specific copyright fee as set by the rightsholder or their agent on all documents supplied in whatever format.... The copyright fee will be in addition to any service or delivery charges for the supply of the document....

The contents of documents supplied are copyright works. Unless you have the permission of the rightsholder, the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd or another authorised licensing body, you may not copy, store in any electronic medium or otherwise reproduce or resell, any of the content, even for internal purposes, except as may be allowed by applicable law unless the document was supplied by electronic delivery or immediate delivery in which case a single copy may be printed (which may itself not be further copied).

If the document was supplied by electronic delivery, it must be downloaded from our secure server within 14 days of us sending you a notification email. The document can be accessed only once.

Some documents supplied by electronic delivery and immediate delivery can be stored locally on a hard drive for up to 3 years from the time and date given on the email notification or downloading, others will expire sooner. In all instances only one printed copy may be made. After 3 years, or sooner for some documents, view and print permissions will expire and you will no longer be able to open the document.

You can't store or copy most documents even for your own internal, private purposes. DRM makes it possible for the document copy to time-expire on their terms. Heaven help you if you try to print out your one permitted copy and you have a paper jam. Why do we need to pay a copyright fee? What is it for? The library explains:

Copyright is important because it protects the interests of those who create and those who invest in creativity. If there was no copyright, it would be impossible for creative people to make a living from their creativity.

No one would be willing to come up with the money to make a film, to write or publish a book or journal, or to bring out a record - because there would be no way of earning a return on that investment.

Now it might be going too far to say no one would publish a book or a journal without such copyright protection, as they claim. Cory Doctorow publishes his works online and at the same time sells them as traditional books, and he makes a living. How did that happen, if their theory were true? And as for journals, there are millions of bloggers out there, most of them writing for free. One thing is certain - we'll never run out of people willing to write. And American Idol stands for the proposition that there are literally thousands and thousands of people in the US alone who are wild to sing and make music for us. So it just isn't the case that no one will write or make music without money up front. The British Library continues:

Now that it is so easy to copy material, it is more vital than ever that we respect copyright so that people continue to produce the creative works that society needs. This is why copyright law has a method for providing financial reward to creators for uses of their intellectual property....

However, it is often much easier to obtain a copy via a supplier such as the British Library. This, too, deprives the author and publisher of income and therefore the law now says that in many circumstances a copyright fee must be charged.

So that is the purpose of the copyright fee, to provide income to authors and those who "invest in creativity". But it is also the death of the concept of a free library, where even those with little or no money can go to learn and access the world's knowledge. Is it acceptable to you that they must go in person, while the rest of us can use the digital capabilities technology makes available, because we can afford to pay and pay and pay? A real line has been crossed, here, with the British Library buying in to the traditional publishers' hatred of libraries. Librarians are supposed to stand up against such encroachments. My grandmother would have, I know. When she was young, she didn't have a dime to spare, and she became a highly educated woman in part because of libraries. She knew how vital they were to those whose dimes were all accounted for just to pay necessary bills but who were hungry to learn. Here's another part that really bothers me:

If you pay the copyright fee, and abide by any terms and conditions associated with the provision of the article (for example, you cannot re-distribute or re-sell it because this would also deprive the author or publisher of income), you will not be in breach of copyright.

What is it about DRM that makes people add on not-yet-legislated items to copyright law? In the US, anyway, there is no "copyright fee" that you have to pay or you will be "in breach" of copyright law. And US folks are allowed to obtain materials from the British Library. Here's when you must pay the copyright fee:

Although there are some exceptions, you will need to pay a copyright fee in most cases, including:
* If the document you are ordering is intended for any kind of commercial use whatsoever, or research / private study with a commercial purpose
* If you are not registered with the British Library or are registered as an individual
* If you are based in the USA
* If you order a document to be supplied by secure electronic delivery. Customers based in the UK and Ireland may order Library Privilege documents to by supplied by Standard or 24 hour secure electronic delivery, but 2 hour secure electronic delivery always requires payment of a copyright fee.
* If you are ordering more than one copy of the same article, or more than one article from the same issue of the journal (a separate copyright fee will have to be paid for each copy we make)

* If you want to circulate copies within your organisation.

For more information on the definition of 'commercial use', see our FAQs on Copyright.

Important: Paying the copyright fee does not mean that you are allowed to make further copies from the document without permission or an appropriate licence.

You do not need to pay a copyright fee for an item ordered on loan.

Here are the few instances where you don't have a pay a copyright fee:

* You are ordering the item on loan
* The copy is wanted for research for a non-commercial purpose or private study and you are making the request via an organisation registered with the British Library (note that this does not apply if you are based in the USA). For more information on the definition of 'commercial use', see our FAQs on Copyright.
* The copy is required for parliamentary or judicial proceedings, a Royal Commission or statutory inquiry.
* The copy is required to replace an item that has been lost or damaged, but this is only available for publicly funded libraries in the UK.

That leaves me out, because they don't loan to the US. So, it's pay, pay, pay for me. But wait a second. Here in the US, our Copyright Law permits fair use, and under fair use, I don't have to pay anything to the author and I don't need his permission to make fair use of his work. But if I pay up front, just because I am in the US, there goes my fair use rights, or they become paid-for rights, if they survive at all.

I guess I agreed to British law, now that I remember their terms and conditions, so what is the law there? There is a fair dealings provision of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (sections 29 and 30) "for non-commercial research purposes, private study, criticism, review or current news reporting, so long as the publication or reproduction is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement identifying the work and the author". The British Library suggests that you stick to no more than 5%, but that isn't the law in the US. Even if it were, where do you find that possible in the DRM? When the document shuts itself down, does your chosen 5% remain available? How does the DRM make it possible for me to exercise those rights?

Let's *all* keep the law down to the last jot and tittle, shall we? And by the way, when did the world move to enforcing the law by means of corporations? Adobe is now our copyright police?

If the copyright fee is for the author, how come he gets it if it's a rush order and not if it's by mail? It's still one copy. Now, if you live in the UK, you don't have to pay the fee on a loan. You are getting a copy, not just a loan that you return. But wait. They just told us that in some circumstances, we only get to keep the document you buy for a specified time period. So why isn't that a loan too? If I pay for something, I do think I should be able to keep it forever. And if I can't keep it, it's really a loan. So if it's a loan, I am paying a copyright fee for a loan. No? What am I missing? Deeper, why does any of this make sense, in a digital age, when you can set up a database and let it pretty much run itself? A fee for what? I thought the whole idea of a library was that it made books and music available to those who couldn't pay.

You fortunate UK and Irish guys don't have to pay the copyright fee but that doesn't mean they trust you. No siree. Here's what you have to do to prove you have no criminal intent:

If a copyright fee does not need to be paid on the copy you are ordering, we call it a Library Privilege copy. The person who wants the Library Privilege copy, i.e. the end user, must sign a Copyright Declaration Form in order to declare that they are not knowingly breaking copyright law. You can download Copyright Declaration Forms from (PDF format). If the Library Privilege copy is delivered electronically or by fax, you must ensure that a similar declaration is signed. You do not return these forms to us, but instead should keep them for a minimum of seven years in case the rights owner, or their agent, requests an audit of the Library Privilege service.

Seven years? Copyright authors can request an audit of the British Library to find out if you failed to keep your permission slip for seven years? You have to keep your permissions slip longer than the IRS requires US citizens to keep proof of their finances? Are they insane? I note the Library doesn't want to be bothered with that stupid paperwork. Nope. It's for all you Would-Be-Pirates in the UK and Ireland. Happy bookkeeping. Doesn't it make you just yearn to get materials from the British Library?

So, for the rest of us, how much is this fee? That, of course, is the privilege of the author or those who have "invested in creativity". They can set it as they please. This is after all, about their happiness, under a law that seriously favors only them:

The publishers set copyright fees, either by themselves or through their agents, and the fees will therefore differ from publication to publication. The average level is around £7.50, but they can be much higher.

It's up to you to check an ever-changing online databases and tally up. There is some relief if the item is reeeeally old:

A default copyright fee of £5.00 per item is charged on certain non-journal material, such as conference proceedings and books. A fee of £0.00 applies to all items published over 100 years ago, plus certain material for which the rightsholder has set a fee of zero.

Oh, and there is a service charge, and here's the Terms and Conditions [PDF] they tell you to read on their How to Order page:

11. Copyright

All material is subject to UK Copyright Law. Requests for a complete reproduction of material that is in copyright will require written copyright permission from the copyright holder before Reproductions will accept the Order Form.The Customer must attach the original permission from the copyright holder to the order (photocopies are not acceptable).

12 Permission to Reproduce

The British Library owns and retains at all times the copyright on all reproductions produced. Customers may not reproduce any material supplied for any reason, (including academic or personal,and whether for profit or not) without prior written permission from the British Library. Customers wishing to reproduce supplied material should apply to the British Library Permissions Departments for the applicable fees.

What if you can't find the copyright holder? No. Really. What about orphaned works? There is no arrangment for that. Here's what you have to go through just to pay for and get the stuff digitally, if you are able to get permission. First, how to pay:

2. Documents supplied by secure electronic delivery - Terms of Supply

Documents are supplied under the Terms and Conditions of our Copyright Fee Paid service.

The contents of the document are copyright works, supplied by secure electronic delivery from the British Library. Unless you have the permission of the copyright owner, the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd or another authorised licensing body, you may not copy, store in any electronic medium or otherwise reproduce or resell any of the content, even for internal purposes, except as may be allowed by law.

The document has come from an electronic store or has been scanned from a paper or microform original, under licence from the publisher. The publisher cannot be held responsible for any errors resulting from the scanning process.

The terms of the licence under which the document was copied and transmitted permit it to be printed only once....


The following restrictions apply, unless you have the permission of the copyright owner, the Copyright Licensing Agency or another authorised licensing body.

You may print only one paper copy, from which you may not make any further copies. You may not make further electronic copies or convert the file into any other format. You may not cut and paste or otherwise alter the text.

You may forward the notification email to the person who made the original request in order for them to print the single copy, but you may not save or print the document before forwarding it.

Licensed Intermediaries must observe the following additional conditions when forwarding an electronic file:

1. Only the notification email can be forwarded to the end user. The document must not be loaded on to a server for downloading by the end user.
2. The British Library cover sheet must not be detached from the electronic file.

Replacements for defective copies

If you need to ask for the complete document to be resent, because it is defective or is the wrong article, you must destroy the wrong/defective copy and any associated electronic files.

There are different restrictive terms if you receive it by FAX or mail. How do they plan on enforcing this? By fly bots buzzing through our homes to spy on us? Actually they have a plan. If you purchase certain materials and you don't fully pay, this is what you agree they can do about it:

We may enter Your premises without notice and recover the Products which have not been paid for in full. This sub-clause constitutes Your authority for Us to enter the premises of any other person holding the Products on Your behalf and on whose property the Products may be and remove the Products.

Now, wait a second, cowboy. You want to enter my premises without notice and search for and take back your stuff? Without going to court at least first, to establish your version of events is true? So no more "my home is my castle," or the old quaint US idea that there can be no unreasonable search and seizures. This isn't a government search; it's by a library on behalf of private copyright owners, and it's a Brave New World, where to get content at all, you are required to waive all your normal rights. And your dignity as a human being too. Can you imagine your little kids when they burst into your house and demand their copyrighted documents back, you deadbeat parents?

And deeper, what if you have no money? Like my grandmother when she was young? How do you access the world's knowledge now?

They tell us all this is necessary in the digital age. Things are different than they used to be:

The processes needed to deal with electronic materials are intrinsically the same as those needed for traditional print materials, but the solutions need to be different.

The Library has set up the Digital Object Management Programme (known as 'the DOM Programme') to develop the technical solution to the problems given to us in having such digital items (also known as 'objects') as part of the Library's collections.

They are, of course, aware of the need to consider longterm storage, although their solution is, to me, questionable. Can they, for just one issue, guarantee that Microsoft will be around in 50 years? That .Net and Biztalk2004 will still work? If not, then what?

Compare, please, the Smithsonian's far more reasonable terms:

Use of text, images and other content on this website are subject to the following terms and conditions:


Text and image files, audio and video clips, and other content on this website is the property of the Smithsonian Institution and may be protected by copyright and other restrictions as well. Copyrights and other proprietary rights in the content on this website may also be owned by individuals and entities other than, and in addition to, the Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian expressly prohibits the copying of any protected materials on this website, except for the purposes of fair use as defined in the copyright law, and as described below.


Fair use of copyrighted material includes the use of protected materials for non-commercial educational purposes, such as teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary, and news reporting. Unless otherwise noted, users who wish to download or print text and image files from this Web site for such uses may do so without the Smithsonian Institution’s express permission, provided that they comply with the following conditions:

1. The content may only be used for personal, educational or noncommercial purposes;
2. Users must cite the author and source of the content as they would material from any printed work;
3. The citation must include all copyright information and other information associated with the content and the URL for the Smithsonian Institution website;
4. None of the content may be altered or modified;
5. Users must comply with all other terms or restrictions which may be applicable to the individual file, image or text;

See the difference? The British Library fell in love with DRM and bought the idea that creativity only happens inside a tightly controlled, moated safe zone, with soldiers at the ready to keep it inside, and we -- the library patrons -- we're the bad guys in this picture. And the prices! Let's say I would like to get a copy of a patent or a legal document from "Articles Direct", their service if you aren't a regular customer. It will cost me £26.00 plus copyright fee for a patent up to 100 pages. If it's only a two page patent, it's still £26.00 plus copyright fee. A document sent to me by Secure Electronic Delivery is £16.00. Plus copyright fee. It's a dollar more if I want it by FAX. If I am in no rush, they can mail it to me for £7.95. Plus copyright fee. The world's knowledge... for a price. And one many, many individuals in this sad old world can't possibly afford.

Finally, the library says the website's content is also copyrighted, so naturally there are restrictions on what you can do with it:

The content of this website can be accessed, printed and downloaded in an unaltered form (unaltered including being stretched, compressed, coloured or altered in any way so as to distort content from its original proportions or format) with copyright acknowledged, on a temporary basis for personal study which is not for a direct or indirect commercial use and any non-commercial use. Any content printed or downloaded may not be sold, licensed, transferred, copied or reproduced in whole or in part in any manner or in or on any media to any person without the prior written consent of the British Library, including but not limited to:
* transmission by any method
* storage in any medium, system or program
* display in any form
* performance
* hire, lease, rental or loan

They seem to be offering to sue me for what I've done in this article. Except I'm still an American. I can use copyrighted content under fair use, which this is. But for how long? If the entire world goes DRM, you can kiss fair use goodbye. How would you like to live in the British Library's world forever?

I think the best way to get materials from the British Library would be by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and I'm only half joking:

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 received Royal Assent on 30 November 2000. It gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities and places obligations on public authorities to disclose information, subject to a range of exemptions. In common with other public bodies, the Library is required to implement the Act fully from January 2005.

Access rights came into force on 1 January 2005, enabling anyone to make a request for information, although the request must be in writing (letter, fax or email). The Act gives applicants two related rights:

* The right to be told whether the information exists
* The right to receive the information within 20 working days, where possible in the manner requested

In some cases, where information is exempt from disclosure, the Library is required to consider whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

The materials are still under copyright, of course, but you don't have to sign away your firstborn. Most of the materials are free. Here's their copyright information on this method of obtaining materials from them:


Most of the information listed in the Publication Scheme is available free of charge, and available on the website or from the Library as detailed in the Scheme. Where charges do apply, this is stated in the Scheme. Where the Scheme indicates that the Library intends to make information available free of charge, we reserve the right to charge for copying, printing and/or postage.

Copyright and the Publication Scheme

Information available through the scheme is protected by copyright of The British Library Board unless otherwise indicated. The information contained in such copyright protected material may be used but not copied, distributed or published in any format or medium. The information must be reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context. If you use any of the information available through the scheme, or distribute it to others or republish it, you must identify the source of the material and acknowledge its copyright status.

Brief extracts or copies of copyright material included in the schemes may normally be published or reproduced under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (sections 29 and 30) for non-commercial research purposes, private study, criticism, review or current news reporting, so long as the publication or reproduction is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement identifying the work and the author. Fair dealing for the purposes of current news reporting does not apply to photographs. Any uses not covered by fair dealing will normally require permission from The British Library Board or other copyright owners concerned.

You are not allowed to publish facsimile duplicates of any materials you have obtained from the publication scheme without written permission from The British Library. Please note that you may be required to pay a fee.

This page treats one more like a human. They tell you what the law is, and they inform you of what you can't do. There is a "fair dealing" provision, which allows you to use brief extracts or copies of copyrighted material for such things such as news reporting, review, and criticism, as well as private study and noncommercial research, just like in the US.

So, maybe they should inform their DRM about fair dealing? My question is: why don't the Library's terms and conditions match the Freedom of Information Act? Someone really needs to think about this conceptually.

I've been researching libraries and DRM for weeks. Why did I finally write about it? Because, as you can see from the story in News Picks, Expert Group to advise EU Commission on how to build the European Digital Library the British Library is one of the "experts" advising the EU Commission:

In today’s meeting, the group discussed the Commission's vision for the European Digital Library (see IP/06/253) and set up a framework for future discussions. The group also had a first exchange of views on copyright issues. In a recent online consultation, right-holders supported the adequacy of the present copyright rules and the need to fully respect and enforce them, while cultural institutions highlighted a number of problems in the present copyright framework that could potentially undermine efficient digitisation and digital preservation.

As I told you in March, Microsoft has already made a pitch to the EU Digital Libary for their future version of XML, and with it they suggest monetizing the world's knowledge:

However, besides a careful approach to technical issues, we have to find a way to make the digitization effort self-sustainable. We propose a strategy that is focussed on the content exploitation models. We recommend that content consumption scenarios strongly complement other factors, such as preservation, in driving the main aspects of the digitization process: selection of material, quality of the content scanning, metadata enhancement, delivery channel, and access services. This same principle is expected to boost the digitization of the non-English material as local economies and local needs present opportunities for exploitation of such data.

Most of the scenarios for exploiting digital content will require a clear value proposition. We propose to enhance digitized and archived content by context sensitive aggregation with the contemporary content. Essentially, the archived information would be used in association with the current and highly valued information that may be in the public domain (already in the digital form) or distributed by publishers.

One such scenario is educational material for schools. Augmentation of text books with the digitized content of historical documents provides a clear value that can be captured through the supplementary cost of educational material and re-invested into digitization. The key is a clear connection with the educational curriculum. At the national level, teaching history, language, geography, and similar subjects is primarily done in the native language and focussed on the national aspects of the shared history. They are particularly amenable to boosting digitization of the material in the native language. Furthermore, similar type of collaboration with newspapers, journals, etc., in a local language, is possible through augmentation with digital copies of newspapers from the past, for comparison, specific interest, or pleasure. Again, the augmented value of the publications can be captured through appropriate pricing and re-invested into further digitization.

DRM is part of the plan, and I encourage you to read the entire Microsoft document. It would make my grandmother roll over in her grave. Some of the librarians at the British Library are deeply troubled too about what DRM is doing to libraries. How will we access the materials if the DRM company goes out of business someday?

If they duplicate what they have done at the British Library, I think it's fair to say that it is the death of public libraries as we have known them, and the world's knowledge will be available only DRM'd and for a price.

P.S. DRM doesn't work.
It won't block any serious criminals.
All it does is annoy and degrade the honest
... and give monopolies a way to stay that way.


The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price | 365 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
It is run as a money spinner.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 10:46 AM EDT
It is the same with the British census info.

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Off Topic
Authored by: DannyB on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 10:56 AM EDT
Be sure to keep posts off topic. Post clickable links.

The price of freedom is eternal litigation.

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This might not be a good idea.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 11:00 AM EDT
"I think the best way to get materials from the British Library would be by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and I'm only half joking:"
Read the section on fees.

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Different country, different rules...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 11:00 AM EDT
Not saying it's "right", but that's the way it is.

You'll love "Crown Copyright". The UK and Australia, at least, don't
make publicly funded mapping data available for free, as we do here in the US.
You know all those navigation systems? They all start with *free* census dept
or USGS electronic maps, then add their own corrections and whatever. But the
hard work is done by the gov't, and is available at little or no cost, seeing as
how we've paid for it to be done.

Not so in the Commonwealth countries, so the British Library's policies don't
surprise me.

They also (at least in Australia) don't have the concept of "freedom of

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The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Authored by: junklight on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 11:05 AM EDT
I used to work for the BL in the web archiving program.

The situation with Microsoft is actually much much worse than you might think.
Microsoft are actively courting the library with very attractive licensing deals
and free consultancy (despite which the DOM project still does not work no
matter what you might read - but that is another story). As far as I can tell
from what the head of EiS (IT by another name) says - Microsoft are interested
in delivering BL content through some channel (not sure what though - Encarta?
MSN Search?). The Executive team of the library seem to believe that Microsoft
will do the right thing by them and do them lots of favours without wanting
anything in return. They tell the story of Bill Gates eyes lighting up when they
showed him some of the BL's treasures as though it was a good thing.

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"Must install antivirus software"?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 11:06 AM EDT
You agree that it is your responsibility to install anti-virus software and related protections against viruses, Trojan horses, worms, time bombs, cancelbots or other computer programming routines or engines that are intended to damage, destroy, disrupt or otherwise impair a computer's functionality or operation which may be transferred to your computer via the OverDrive server.

Hmm. That last paragraph takes us into a new zone. If I want to listen to the Tom Sawyer audiobook, I must install antivirus software?
That's not how I would have read it. To me it looks like it says "If you get a virus (or other malware) from us, it's your own darn fault for not taking preventive measures. (So don't even think about trying to sue us if that happens.)"

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The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 11:09 AM EDT
It is presumed by some that we are all criminally inclined nowadays.
Try buying a candy bar without having your picture taken.

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  • not the same - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 12:55 PM EDT
Corrections here.
Authored by: Sander Marechal on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 11:16 AM EDT
To start off:

"can kill someone with a kitchen from my kitchen drawer, if I decide I
don't care about the law forbidding murder"

kitchen -> knife

Sander Marechal
Geek, Programmer and many more, but not a lawyer

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The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 11:17 AM EDT
Heaven help you if you try to print out your one permitted copy and you have a
paper jam.

There is a nice printer in Windows called 'print to file' which oblivates all of
this. You simply prent the document to a test document.

If that then does not work then you simply save it as a jpeg and OCR it.

If that does not work then you simply acquire a printer that will print it to
file. There are commerical programs that do exactly this and I am sure someone
has written a better open software one than the MS one.

The issue with this if you can put it on a screen or play it on a speaker you
can rip it to a file.

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Stallman predicted this
Authored by: red floyd on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 11:25 AM EDT
Your article sounds like The Right to Read.

I am not merely a "consumer" or a "taxpayer". I am a *CITIZEN* of the United States of America.

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About borrowing
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 11:34 AM EDT
There seems to be a running theme in the article, about the restrictions on borrowing of digital copies, such as:

1. They charge a fee for digital borrowing (digital copying?)

2. They don't loan to the US

3. Individuals can't borrow digital copies

4. Not everybody gets access to the library

5. They want personal information when lending digital stuff.

Points 1 and 2:
That leaves me out, because they don't loan to the US. So, it's pay, pay, pay for me. But wait a second. Here in the US, our Copyright Law permits fair use, and under fair use, I don't have to pay anything to the author and I don't need his permission to make fair use of his work. But if I pay up front, just because I am in the US, there goes my fair use rights, or they become paid-for rights, if they survive at all.
Points 3 and 4:
Individuals can't borrow digital materials anyway, as far as I can see. It's such a complicated system, I may not have it all figured out, which is another issue. But from what I see, individuals can only buy a license to read within a time frame. Only organizations can use the digital loan service. The library reserves the right to refuse you service. They also reserve the right to only send to your "registered address". The NY Public Libary, in contrast, will send your materials to you anywhere you happen to be, recognizing no doubt that people do travel and sometimes they are in a hurry and they registered at their home address, and don't want to have to run home to receive a digital copy. The British Library makes you buy, but you don't really get ownership of what you bought. There are no first sale rights, because you get timed documents. You are buying a kind of timed access during a window they set. Even if you're an organization and you get something on loan, you can't copy, scan or electronically store the materials they provide.

The thing is, these digital restrictions are being presented as more restrictive than non-digital restrictions.

But here's the point: The British Library is not a lending library (so for example the analogy with the New York Public Library is broken), even for non-digital works.

Look at the digital points, as compared to their analog equivalents at BL:

1. Digital: They charge a fee for digital borrowing (digital copying?)

Analog: They don't allow borrowing at all, except to accredited academic institutions, at the BL's own discretion, and then fees apply. They do allow some copying by individuals - at extortionate prices.

2. Digital: They don't loan to the US

Analog: See #1

3. Digital: Individuals can't borrow digital copies except for a limited time usage

Analog: Individuals can't borrow at all

4. Digital: Not everybody gets access to the library

Analog: Not everybody gets access to the library

5. Digital: They want personal information when lending digital stuff.

Analog: They need lots of personal information to get any access to the library at all. (See their web site)

In other words, the draconian digital restrictions, are actual less restrictive than what the BL offers for traditional analog books.

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Copyright Fee
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 12:00 PM EDT
I saddened to hear that the venerable British Library has caught what I had
thought was the dishonorable but purely American practice of dishonest naming.
Since the British Library is presumably supported by taxes from Great Britain
and Ireland. It makes sense that foreigners might be charged to use the
resources paid for by the citizens and subjects of those countries. That would
be an entirely appropriate User Fee. Likewise providing rush service is also an
entirely appropriate Priority Service subject to a Fee (the US Passport Office
does that to name one agency I am aware of).

To call anything which does not result in payment to a copyright owner a
Copyright Fee is especially disingenuous and can only lead to further disrespect
for legitimate copyrights. It is especially bold to charge a Copyright Fee for
Public Domain materials.

Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

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The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 12:08 PM EDT
"We may enter Your premises without notice and recover the Products which
have not been paid for in full. This sub-clause constitutes Your authority for
Us to enter the premises of any other person holding the Products on Your behalf
and on whose property the Products may be and remove the Products."

What prevents crimmanly oriented employees from falsely claiming someone has
owner's 'products' to gain access to an individuals home?

What protects the homeowner's rights if they have had their identity stolen
prior and the 'product's owner' decides to collect?

The individual who utilized the service and did not pay in full, now is in the
position to falsely implicate others by claiming they have transferred said
'property' to another individual or allowed several individuals to copy and
circulate said 'property'.

Human rights have just been set back a thousand years.

Copyright should expire no later than seven years after the author's death. If
the author lives a hundred more years so be it. If the author dies the following
week, seven years and one week. The publishers will still make oodles of money.
There are many publishers that only print books from expired copyrighted or
public domain material, no royalities paid and many copies are sold. The above
example of "Tom Sawyer", let Mark Twain try to collect instead of some
totalitarian promoting entity.

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hm... 100 years ago
Authored by: Matt C on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 12:27 PM EDT
I'm reading Asimov's "Foundation" for the first time, and got to

It has clearly become the "content" industry's raison-d'etre to lock
up everything discovered/written/recorded in the 20th century and make it so
that they or their grandchildren have to be paid whenever it's referenced. Ever.

I wonder if someone would like to help me go off to some other planet and start
an encyclopedia project where we just start with stuff available in 1910 and
re-discover everything. Meanwhile, earth turns into a hilarious bureaucracy
where every word someone utters incurs a "copyright fee" or some

(Oh, if you're a SF writer and want to use this idea for a story, go ahead)

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Grandparents are wonderful
Authored by: Cheyenne on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 12:31 PM EDT

Your account of your grandmother got me to thinking about my grandfather and
some of the wonderful times that I had with him. The biggest gifts that he gave
me, was the desire to always ask the question "Why?", and to discover
how nature works.

So.. thanks for jogging my memory :)

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The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Authored by: Latesigner on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 12:35 PM EDT
I've been reading, in one form or another, about the British Library for years
and they were never a "public library" in the sense that the NYC
system is.
In fact they're also way more restrictive than the Library of Congress.
That said, I think they're going to end up paying big time for this. They're
permitting themselves to locked away in a fashion that going to threaten their
future relevency to their nation as well as their finances. Someone really
wasn't thinking this through.
I know we poked fun and the french reaction to Google's digital library
collection, and they deserved a good deal (most? all?) of it, but if their
current initiative prevents any more scenarios like this one happening in europe
they'll have done us all a favor.

The only way to have an "ownership" society is to make slaves of the rest of us.

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Several thoughts
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 12:51 PM EDT
If I understand correctly, the British Library is in a special position as
publishers are *required* to deposit a copy of a new publication. I guess the
publisher doesn't get paid for that copy. So it would be a problem if that is
the only copy that anyone ever uses. Most libraries not only pay for the works
they loan, they pay a whole lot more than you and I do to make up for the much
wider circulation of library vs. private copies, so this wouldn't apply in most

I cannot believe that these people think we'll look at that looooong river of
legalese and conclude that reading and understanding it (let alone fully
complying with it) is less trouble than just going to the library and reading
the material there. All of the e-books I've tried were more hassle than they
were worth *without* wading through 5kg of contracts first.

Yes, librarians do know (and always have known) what you may be reading. I'm
not a librarian, but I work with them, and I have to say that they have a
quietly ferocious attitude toward anyone who tries to tap into that knowledge of
your private affairs.

These "agreements" are probably going to get steadily worse until
someone brings the issue to court and argues successfully that the fair-use
provisions of copyright law trump the relevant provisions of contract law.

[ Reply to This | # ]

British Library was always unusually restrictive
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 12:53 PM EDT
They never lent books out and still don't.

At one point you needed to get a special license to get into the stacks (I don't
know if this is still true).

The British Library had a bad reputation with regard to these things; no
surprise it's leading the charge in the wrong direction.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What a great article! We need a Digital Age Bill of Human Rights.
Authored by: webster on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 12:56 PM EDT

1. Thanks for your voice and that of your grandmother. It is so easy for us to
be herded about thoughtlessly as sheep. Your warning is well taken. Kids on
welfare can't buy bestsellers. Libraries are a public service. The BL just got
themselves Monopolized. Anything to serve "Sir Bill." They are so

2. No doubt there are those at the British Library that will be offended and
defensive about all this. They get what they deserve. They are a fee service
for those pushers of HW and SW. Obviously the vendors run the procurment
process at the British Library. The public be damned.

3. The taxpayers now have an opportunity to pay twice. The public should set
it up and maintain it for the public benefit. This must be an issue in
parliament. PJ has probably just moved it up in priority. Kids, old folks,
unemployed should have access to these materials.

4. We need a Digital Age Bill of Human Rights. We should build the hardware
and software to fit the human rights, not the other way around. We need DRM,
Fair use, copying, interoperability, control of hardware and software,etc.
defined on a national and international basis. Then all these licenses couldn't
contradict this Bill of Human Rights.

5. Governments, large corporations, and monopolies are extending their
dominance into the digital age. Digital Human Rights have to be established so
that exploitation and an aggravated digital divide won't persist. Look at how
in some undeveloped countries, the government charges exorbitant telephone and
airline ticket fees. They realize a lot of the money comes from abroad and that
it keeps their own population inaccessible. The few at the top don't care as
long as they get thiers.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Difference between the Smithsonian and the British Library ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 01:23 PM EDT
... is that you guys have a written constitution underpinning your laws.

Sure, you've got random politians and lawyers for the recording and film
industries trying to trash and/or ignore it every day. Not to mention the fact
that the Bush administration seems to have forgotten it exists.

But at the end of the day it is there in black and white. And I believe that
it's often (always?) on display somewhere so you can go and see the original
document, if you've got any doubt about what your inalienable rights are.

We in the UK have an "unwritten constitution", allegedly.

Which, as the Blair administration has demonstrated, is worth precisely the
value of the paper it's written on.

Inconvenient rights, even if centuries old, can be legislated away in an
afternoon if it pleases big business (Tony's favourite kind of people).

You know, right to a trial by jury, habeus corpus, fair use, no imprisonment by
executive order - inconvenient. So poof, they're gone.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Librarian for President
Authored by: CraigV on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 01:36 PM EDT
I remember about 15 or 20 years ago reading a semi-serious
blurb entitled "Librarian for President" in our National
Bureau of Standards Library newsletter. It pointed out
that librarians:
-- are dedicated to serving the public good
-- respect and provide true and factual information to the
best of their considerable ability
-- help everyone irrespective of wealth and influence
-- are about as honest a class of worker as one can find

Wouldn't be nice to have such a President!

The above is all from memory. A quick Google search
failed to find a copy of the original which was, of
course, very well written with a bit of tongue-in-cheek.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Technological Determinism
Authored by: organicveggie on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 01:39 PM EDT

Technological determinism is a theory in sociology and political science that argues technology itself has an inherent sociological effect. That would be akin to argue that digital media is inherently evil because it allows people to violate copyright laws.


Contrast with the Social Construction of Technology theory:


Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Here is another example of DRM harming artists
Authored by: kawabago on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 01:40 PM EDT
We received a paid for CD of music from a music festival. It has 11 different
artists on it that are all hoping to expand their audience by joining this
compilation. If we like these artists there is an excellent chance we would buy
more of their music. When I try to rip the CD onto my hard drive and add it to
my music library it stalls, I can't even copy without compression. I suspect it
has some kind of DRM preventing me from doing this. I'm afraid to put it in a
Windows computer because I don't know what it might do to that system. So it
sits unlistened to. 11 groups of people who laboured long and hard on their best
work and we can't determine if we like them or not so there is no hope that we
will ever buy their work or support them in any way.

This is exactly why DRM is bad for artists, if they have an audience, it causes
the audience to shrink. If they don't have an audience, there is no way to
build one. Eventually this disk will be discarded as useless. I wonder if all
the people who worked so hard to put this album together are happy that their
work will be discarded as garbage because it is locked up behind a DRM wall?

The more DRM is forced on people, the smaller the market will become and the
more money the entertainment industry will lose. It's too bad so many artists
will never be heard, but at least no one will be stealing their work. So they
can at least starve to death knowing that noone is listening to their music.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wooden file cabinets with drawer after drawer of index cards
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 01:41 PM EDT
My wife's worst nightmare, the library scene from Ghost Busters, index cards
flying all over the place.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Speaking of DRM simply punishing the innocent
Authored by: PeteS on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 02:20 PM EDT
I am reminded of This UserFriendly Cartoon


Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity

[ Reply to This | # ]

Rationing Knowledge
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 03:02 PM EDT
Rationing knowledge based on one's ability to pay and other factors is contrary
to what many consider basic to a free society. Social mobility and the
realization of one's intellectual potential through increased knowledge also
empowers, a process grounded in full access to information and education, both
institutional and personal.

One can argue that if knowledge is power then the euro-centric ruling elite
(still) have a keen interest in keeping the unwashed masses in their place. No
big surprise that the public knowledge base has gatekeepers who favor
pay-per-view and other barriers.

It keeps the riffraff, like you and me, out.

[ Reply to This | # ]

While we're discussing the British Library...
Authored by: markhb on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 03:08 PM EDT
I'm surprised that no one mentioned this page, reached from their homepage via this link. The door graphic is priceless. It's telling that the Library has a section devoted to helping people monetize their intellectual property.

IANAL, but ITRYINGTOCHILLOUT... et SCO delenda est!

[ Reply to This | # ]

EULAs and "legal" agreements: some questions
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 03:21 PM EDT
I have some questions about these kind of "agreements". I'm not
looking for legal advice, just better understanding of how to approach them in

1) How can someone offer a contract on a take it or leave it basis?

I always understood that when offered an agreement (on paper, in person), I have
the right to delete or change any part of it by simply crossing it out and
initialing it, thus indicating that I agree to only some of the terms. I have
actually done this in some cases, with explicit acceptance of my right to do

I suppose, even in person, the other party could refuse, up front, not to accept
any changes, so it would be a similar situation. Still, such a "take it or
leave it" attitude seems terribly arrogant, at the least.

2) What is the requirement for "informed consent"?

How can I be judged to have legally agreed to something that I can't understand?
Even in the relatively plain English of these agreements, it is not entirely
clear what rights the 'borrower' is signing away.

For access to library materials the stakes are not so high; I've been handed an
agreement by an employer that affected my benefits, with the message "sign
it if you want to keep working here" and "No, we can't explain it to
you--you'll need to hire your own lawyer for that". There was no possible
way for me to read and understand the ramifications of that document on my own.
I was not happy, but like all the other sheep, I signed.

3) What does it mean when the written law is essentially ignored in "real

No one I know takes this kind of agreement (EULAs, etc.) seriously. The only way
the whole process works is if /everybody/ sort of looks the other way.
"Well, I know this book is copyrighted, but they won't care if I photocopy
a few chapters just to prepare for this test." And the publishers truly do
look the other way. So why isn't the law, and the license, brought in line with

Maybe it should work like a trademark: any provision not defended becomes null
and void.

DRM allows the publishers to finally break their part of this social contract,
like stationing a "copyright compliance officer" next to the copy
machine. Hopefully, people will recognize DRM for what it is and refuse to
"accept" it at all.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: FrankH on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 03:54 PM EDT
Copyright is important because it protects the interests of those who create and those who invest in creativity. If there was no copyright, it would be impossible for creative people to make a living from their creativity. No one would be willing to come up with the money to make a film, to write or publish a book or journal, or to bring out a record - because there would be no way of earning a return on that investment.
You've got to admit the British Library have got a point. How do you think Shakespeare would have got his plays published and performed without a robust copyright system?


[ Reply to This | # ]

OverDrive and Antivirus -- It's worse still!
Authored by: dcs on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 04:38 PM EDT

PJ, you did not understand what OverDrive truly meant. They weren't saying you had to install anti-virus to read their DRM. They said that you had to install anti-virus to protect yourself against virus (&cia) sent my their server!

Read that paragraph again:

You agree that it is your responsibility to install anti-virus software and related protections against viruses, Trojan horses, worms, time bombs, cancelbots or other computer programming routines or engines that are intended to damage, destroy, disrupt or otherwise impair a computer's functionality or operation which may be transferred to your computer via the OverDrive server.

Notice that 11 last little words. You are responsible for installation of software to protect yourself against damage done by malware sent by THEM!

Though I don't quite think they mean software to protect against their DRM, which I do most certainly consider to fit this:

computer programming routines or engines that are intended to damage, destroy, disrupt or otherwise impair a computer's functionality or operation

Daniel C. Sobral

[ Reply to This | # ]

childrens book publishers are much more accomodating than the grown-up ones
Authored by: Alan Bell on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 05:10 PM EDT
I am a father of three who likes reading bedtime stories to the aforementioned three little ones. I read quite a lot, but I can't keep up with the demand so I started recording stories and burning audio CDs of stories so that they can listen whenever they want. I figured it would be pretty cool to share these recordings with other people, and play back recordings from other people to my kids, so I set up a little website (using Free software of course) at A Story For Bedtime to allow people to share recordings. I spoke to the publishers to get the permissions to do this, and they were overwhelmingly positive. I am focussed on picture books for the pre-school age group or early readers, the value of these books is mostly in the pictures rather than the words, so the publishers are fine with me asking people to read stories and for me to distribute MP3 files of their books. I have today launched a podcast called the "A Story For Bedtime Kiddiecast" to provide a feed of stories to anyone who wants it. The site allows absolutely anyone to contribute a reading, I think it would be great to get people with strong accents from all over the world which might help development of listening skills in young children. There has been considerable interest in this from the deaf community too, as something that can be played back by deaf parents to hearing children to help listening development.

Alan Bell
Chief Story Teller
A Story For Bedtime

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dot-Net Rant
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 05:49 PM EDT
Off topic I know, and a bit of a rant, but...

Dot-Net must be the most buggy middleware platform I have ever worked with. I
wonder if it's because I look at Java and other platforms through rose tinted
spectacles, but asking our testing team today the opinion seems the same. Before
the switch to Microsoft technologies, our Java work was far more reliable.

We have lost developer months chasing down stupid bugs in Dot-Net.

How can anyone blindly go with this? Is it the momentum of VB programmers -
being dragged into the latest object orientated world sticking to VB-Dot-Net
because Java was too hard?

Back on topic - the Internet gives us a wonderful opportunity for information
wealth. I really hope that this happens, rather than we serve the interests of
those intent on keeping informations scarce or using the need for information to
tie us into product choices. Unfortunately the latter seems to be happening more
and more.

I'd hate to be forced to go out and buy Windows and related software because I
need to to function online - to be stuck in the Microsoft upgrade treadmil, with
the security and other problems Windows has. The system is a mess, and in
comparison with Linux its expensive.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tom Sawyer without the DRM (Project Gutenberg)
Authored by: darkonc on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 06:41 PM EDT
Happily Tom Sawyer was written before they locked copyright down for generations after a book has been written and the author died. As a result you can download it via Project Gutenberg in any of a number of forms, ranging from simple text, to full HTML with scans of the images (about 15M, zipped).

and, for those who don't know, you can also volunteer to help proofread pages from out-of-copyright texts (one page at a time). They have a reasonably complete system set up to forward the process.

FYI: I also have copies of Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Wealth of Nations and a heavily indexed copy of the King James bible on my web site. -- (I'm intending to split the bible up into books because having it as one large file is a bit unwieldy.)

Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cause and effect
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 07:40 PM EDT

PJ wrote:

It's simply the case that the worse people behave, the stricter the laws tend to become.

It could also be that the stricter laws become, the less respect people have for them.

There is, in fact, a very worrying trend to criminalize large parts of the population through laws passed by lawmakers beholden to an entity, an dogma, or both.

That too is about freedom!

[ Reply to This | # ]

What about lessons learned?
Authored by: iraskygazer on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 07:45 PM EDT
Has anybody experienced the purchase of an eBook reader?
Remember the timeframe, around 2000 thru 2003, when the eBook reader companies
were either updating their software or simply going out of business. The
software upgrades came with an additional cost per previously purchased book so
you could read the old book. Are you're old eBook readers still working? Can you
purchase new eBooks that can be read in the old eBook Reader, the one that comes
from a failed company?

Up and coming generations are going to lose out on knowledge from the past due
to DRM. That is why the state of MA has started on the ODF path.

Far too many people have forgotten the problems produced by DRM. I really hate
to say this but DRM may be good for the legal profession because DRM will
inherently produce more law suits. Like the class action suit brought against
eBooks for changing the software and then charging more for the ability to
continue to read old eBooks for which you originally purchased a perpetual

[ Reply to This | # ]

Your Grandmothers Lament
Authored by: starsky on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 07:56 PM EDT
after reading his wonderful article, it seems as though much of the world is
suffering frm the same symptoms that caused your grandmother to stop teaching.
The lack of respect for other people.

Personally, I use the following phrase to sum it up.

"People now believe the rights of the individual are more important than
the rights of the collective."

Corporations are quite obviously designed to behave this way, but more
disturbing is the influence of that psychopathic behaviour on the rest of the
world's population.

When I look at America from afar (Australia), I still don't understand the
"Personal freedom" slant on the constitution. The right to bear
arms(1791). This amendment to the US constituion was a state issue and not a
personal issue.

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,
the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

How did this get twisted and distorted over the last 200 years to be so selfish?
Are people forgetting the "well regulated" part? I have no problem
with people having guns, but people have to ask if it is being adequately
regulated. There are so many examples just like this.

In many ways the whole criminal law system is founded on the concept of the
rights of the many over the rights of the few.

I think this is why we have "Beyond Reasonable Doubt". The theory
being that it is better to let a thousand guilty men free than to lock up the
one innocent person". This thinking, which on the surface looks individual
centric is actually quite selfless. What would the consequences for society be
if there was no reasonable doubt? How many innocent people would be locked up,
and how would that impact peoples individual freedoms?

And this is where the DRM thing really gets me. "Their" rights trump
everyone else's. The rights of the individual (corporation) over the rights of
the community. And the backlash is that we all start to be treated like
potential criminals. When laws are pushed to an extreme (any extreme) they have
negative consequences on the collective.

The same is true with copyright law, as is true with second amendment. If the
people "push" the law to the extreme edges the people suffer.

- Flame away people.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The British Copyright Libraries - There are six.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 07:59 PM EDT

Legal deposit is the act of depositing published material in designated libraries or archives. Publishers and distributors in the United Kingdom and Ireland have legal obligation to deposit published material in the six legal deposit libraries which collectively maintain the national published archive of the British Isles.

The five Libraries which support the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries are :-

# Bodleian Library, Oxford
# Cambridge University Library
# National Library of Scotland
# Library of Trinity College Dublin
# National Library of Wales
These Libraries are often referred to as copyright libraries or the Legal Deposit Libraries, and are entitled to receive, free of charge, and inclusive of postage and packing, a copy of every work published in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The sixth library is the British Library which has its own Legal Deposit Office....
The Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries

I'm tech, not a Librarian, but I've seen "inside".(not the BL)

The largest parts tend to be underground, miles on miles of shelving, they must be the longest standing non smoking establishments in the world. :).

They are the written history of the UK. The part the public enters may be "grand" but it is the smallest part.

Until you see it you really can't appreciate how much was published in huge leather bound volumes centuries ago(Think museum - on vast scale).

But the Copyright Libraries also take daily delivery of thousands of publications(one copy of everything published). Newspapers and Porn magazines as well as more traditional books.

The public has very limited access to the "originals". Much of it could be described as "fragile". I wouldn't attempt to put a value on the collections. But access can be obtained by those making an request "in the right way".

Public access is available in the reference section to much that does not have "money and historical" value.

The libraries that I know, in common with most universities run Urica is possibly the system with the longest pedigree of all in the automation systems market. It was developed in the early 80s and has continued along the same main development track ever since. Systems around at that time were Geac's GLIS, CLSi,s Libs 100, Swalcap, BLCMP's Circo. Innovative were just getting going, Dynix was a gleam in Keith Wilson's eye... it was a while ago.

Since the initial birth of Urica, the system has developed a rich functionality. The database structures, which are firmly in what are now called the post relational model and was then called PICK....

Urika on Pick has got to be the fastest, searchable, expandable database I know.

Pick was mostly ported to Unix in the late eighties.

Big Boxes.

A great database with a very poor front end.

In order to survive the revolutions of the IT industry, Urica has had to re-structure the system and has adopted a thin client approach which retains the back end database and allows the use of a thin browser based client.

Urica have adopted a gradual approach towards the GUI in order to bring users with dumb terminals and Windows 3.1 along with them. This has meant sticking with Javascript for the client processing - a limiting factor that Innovative for example has dropped by using a full Java client.

I saw two modules of the new Urica....

M$ have obviously been given the front end but the backend is still safe.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Authored by: raya on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 08:24 PM EDT
This whole article starts from some seriously wrong assumptions and as a result is full of errors which are obscuring valid arguments on drm.

Point 1: This is about the British library. In England. It operates under English law ("british law" does not exist). Several parts of the article appear to be written assuming it operates under US law. It doesn't, US law does not apply here (whether the US likes it or not).

What about fair use? Poof. It's gone. Fair use is part of copyright law too, of course
Correction - fair use is part of your (US) copyright law. It does not exist in English law. Period. It's not gone - it never was [and yes i do know about fair dealing and no it is not the same].
Seven years? [...] You have to keep your permissions slip longer than the IRS requires US citizens to keep [...]
The IRS and US is irrelevant. This is English law. Tax (and most finance) records are required to be kept for seven years. Even if it's not actually constrained by law, why on earth should the British Library look to US retention standards for its contracts ?
That leaves me out, because they don't loan to the US. So, it's pay, pay, pay for me.
It's pay pay pay for us too - just that we do it in our taxes. We have "free" health care too, but for our citizens / taxpayers (you would have to pay pay pay). I can't see how this is somehow odd or unfair - and it certainly isn't limited to the British Library, or to Britain. For instance, the US is the place that charges you double for a visa if you happen to be a British and called Mohammed...
But wait a second. Here in the US, our Copyright Law permits fair use
Lucky you, here in England, where the library is, it doesn't. Why should the British library choose US law (even if it could) ?

Point 2: The British Library is not a "public library". It is also not a lending library. Individuals have not in the past been able to borrow from it (nor could just anyone even read at it - not long ago they got criticised in some academic quarters for daring to open the reading rooms as far as undergraduates). Now, individuals can, in a very limited fashion, borrow digital materials. This is not a restriction, it is in fact a slight lifting of restrictions.

What stands out is that they charge money to loan. Libraries don't traditionally cost anything, if you wish to borrow a book. That little shift changes the landscape utterly.
It is not a shift at all, it has always been that way. You cannot borrow a printed book from them for free either. The British library is not a public library. Britain has lots of public libraries, and they do not charge to borrow. The British library is not one of them.
Individuals can't borrow digital materials anyway, as far as I can see.
Same applies to printed materials. Why should digital be different ? The British library is not a lending library.
The NY Public Libary, in contrast,
Is obviously irrelevant, as the British library is not a public library.
If they duplicate what they have done at the British Library, I think it's fair to say that it is the death of public libraries as we have known them
The British library is not a public library, therefore duplicating it will clearly not result in a public library, but how can it be the death of them ? This is like saying "if other car mfrs duplicate what Toyota have done with the Prius, it will be the death of motorcycles as we have known them".
I've been researching libraries and DRM for weeks
Respectfully suggest that the research is still incomplete and should perhaps encompass:

a) what the British library actually is (and it clearly isn't what you think it is)

b) where it is located and which laws apply (and where US concepts of fair use do not apply)

[ Reply to This | # ]

The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 10:15 PM EDT
Don't know about the rest of you but I am getting pretty sick and tired of being
treated like a criminal all in the name of so-called intellectual property.

A term that you didn't hear until microsoft was being threaten by linux.

I wonder where Apple and Microsoft would be if intellectual property was around
in the days of xerox park.

Whoever is pushing treacherous (trusted) computing can go push it on their
computers not mine thank you.

AMD if you are smart you will not touch treacherous computing with a ten foot
pole. I am already sold on your chips - and if you stay away from trusted
computing and vista you will have my business for a long long time.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Baen books - the good guys
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 08 2006 @ 11:56 PM EDT
I borrowed a book from the library the other day. It was "At All
Costs" by David Weber - a favorite author of mine. "At all Costs"
is the latest in his Honour Harrington series - highly recommended. I own almost
the complete series, and some of the older ones are now wearing out from
overuse. In the back cover of the book was a CD ...

The CD contained the FULL TEXT version of well over 20 books in 3 different
unprotected formats including plain HTML, including David Weber's complete ouvre
and one or two others which I hadn't yet read. All excellent stuff - no rubbish.
No DRM. No shrinkwrap license with restrictive terms. Explicit permission to
copy the books to your hard drive was given. In short these books were just
there. Baen is embracing the new technology in the belief that if they just put
their stuff out there without fear then people will appreciate it and it will
pay off for them in the long run.

I do appreciate it very much. Go buy a Baen book everyone. You can order
electronic versions of most of their books from the Baen website and they'll
just send you the book by email attachment - no restrictions - use it as you

The CD I accessed was in a book borrowed from the library. But having now read
some Baen books in electronic format, the fear factor has gone and my trust of
this publisher is now established. When you order electronic versions of things
these days you half expect it to come with dreadful crippleware DRM software, or
to only run on windows or to have a hundred page capitalised license with
drastic terms and penalties - or to force you to watch a six minute propaganda
movie about the evils of copying. Baen's stuff has none of that.

I'm now looking forward to David Weber's NEXT book which I plan to get over the
web long before it would otherwise be available in dead tree form. Baen deserves
to prosper from this. Great stuff!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Can someone skip to the end
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 02:46 AM EDT
And give a synopsis of what this is all about, without the rambling Wonder Years

[ Reply to This | # ]

Please Apologise for This Article
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 02:58 AM EDT

This article is one of the most misguided, ignorant things I have come across in a while. And I say that as someone who usually agrees with PJ. It has plenty of ignorant "me-too" comments to follow it up, from people who have no inclination to find out for themselves and take whatever they hear as God-given fact.

Specific flaws in this article:

1. The assumption that the British Library operates under US law.

Guess what, it doesn't. Before you blame the BL for joining the evil empire of corporate skullduggery, why not actually check what restrictions are imposed on it by English law? (British law? What's that? Another example of ignorance...) Wouldn't that be a good bit of research to do?

So they don't respect your fair use doctrine? Tut tut. Many things are lawful in the US that are not lawful elsewhere; that doesn't mean you have the right to apply US law in other countries. Let's let the parliament make English law, it's a system that's worked OK for a long time.

The American assumption that US law and custom applies everywhere is the cause of a good deal of evil in the world today, and you are very much a part of it in this article.

2. Complete lack of understanding of what the British Library is.

As has been amply pointed out, it is not a public library. Therefore comparing it to one and complaining that they are not the same is ridiculous, and makes you look foolish. They don't lend books to people. Period. But apparently you managed to miss that fact in your "in depth research." So crying about the steady errosion of rights is nonsense; no rights are being erroded here.

This sort of institution is not unusual around the world; many countries, and in some countries each state in that country, has a similar library that serves as a repository of every thing published. Its purpose is not to allow public access to those things, but to ensure that they are presereved. Even the USA has one, I believe. Gasp!

3. Propping up a very poor argument with personal emotional connections.

This is by far the worst fault. Any undergraduate would get failed for handing in this sort of essay, and rightly so. You can't be bothered finding out the facts and reporting them fairly, so you just jump to the assumption that there is a story to be written here and proceed to invent most of it. And since you have few coherent facts or arguments, we get a long story about your librarian grandmother. No doubt she was an excellent librarian, who served the public excellently, and who was very dear to you, but she is irrelevant when making a comparison to the British Library. We are supposed to feel outraged at the way the things our grandparents valued and fought for are being done away with and not notice that in fact you have no idea what you're talking about. Sorry, it didn't work.

No doubt some of the things the BL is doing are not as we would like them to be. DRM is not a technology I'd like to embrace, and Microsoft platforms are not my first choice for developing software. But finding the words DRM and Microsoft on someone's web site and therefore assuming they are the epitomy of evil is going a long way too far.

In summary, I think you owe the British Library an apology for an article which, to my reading, amounts to slander (but IANAL).

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This is NOT for authors
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 02:59 AM EDT
If the copyright fee is for the author

Normally, it isn't; it's for the publisher. Of course authors do get something if they are still alive and still own the copyright, but in the case of most (non-famous) authors, a condition of publication is that the publisher gets the copyright.

And of course with the extension of copyright periods that has happened in most jurisdictions, the authors of a large fraction of copyrighted works will be dead, anyway.

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Commercial and non-commercial nonsense
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 05:17 AM EDT
Noticed this page relating to the EU DIrective on Copyright and its consequences.

"The United Kingdom has now implemented the EU Directive on Copyright. The Directive is designed to harmonise legislation within the European Union. However, as a result there are some important changes to British law. A distinction has now been made between copying for non-commercial research purposes and copying for commercial research purposes. Any copying for commercial research purposes has been removed from the so called "exceptions to copyright". If you require a copy for research for commercial purposes, you must pay a copyright royalty as well as pay the cost of making a copy."

What the weasels of Brussels get up to when not trying to bring in software patents or chasing Microsoft.

I challenge anyone to define the difference between the concepts of commercial and non-commercial research. Note that the British Library copyright faq is not very hepful. For instance most academics are paid so their work is income-generating. Also the Universities are tasked with making money from their research activities so in many cases no different from companies or charities. If an article is published in a for-profit learned journal same applies.

So in 2003 we mostly lost 'fair use' in the UK. I am ashamed to say I missed this altogther.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

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Copyright fees
Authored by: Wol on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 07:37 AM EDT
A quick explanation ... and yes, the US probably has them as well, there was
certainly an attempt to introduce them for webcasting ...

I'm a musician, so I'll describe it in musical terms, and church terms, seeing
as I'm most familiar with those versions.

Think of the (UK) Performing Rights Society. Think of the "blank CD
levy" in most of Europe (and Canada?). Think of the proposed American
legislation that would have forced all webcasters to pay a fee to be allowed to

Kingsway Music (a religious publisher) have negociated a system whereby churches
(in return for an annual fee) can copy most of their publications. The churches
then make a return to Kingway saying what's been copied, and Kingsway then remit
this to the copyright holders. It works because there aren't many copyright
holders to deal with, and the licence explicitly states what is covered and free
to copy.

As I understand the Performing Rights Society, if I as a musician want to play
music (in public), I pay for a licence, and at the end of the year I tell the
PRS what I've performed. This licence also allows me to make copies of music!
And the PRS then sorts out paying the composers etc. A lot of bands (that is
Brass, Military, etc not pop) have a stamp that says "property of
...", and this can be stamped onto copies to make them legal provided the
appropriate fee is paid (if it's not paid, you mustn't stamp it ...) I think
this works because it's backed up by law, the problem of course being if you're
not registered as a composer with the PRS, they get the money and you don't :-(

And so, if you get a copy of something from the British Library, you would
expect to have to pay a fee along those lines because, as has been pointed out,
the copyright fee hasn't been paid on the copy in the library.

Oh, and as a value add to everyone else's comments about the British Library not
being a lending library ... for any typical book in the library, it's not A
copy, but THE copy. Would you be happy if they lent it to me and I lost it?
Don't blame them for being paranoid about security, and not lending anything


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DRM and the threat to our cultural heritage
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 07:40 AM EDT
For another look at DRM and the threat it poses to our cultural heritage (as well as being a one-way-street where only the publisher gets to decide about his rights), have a look at this article I wrote a couple of days ago.

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But why isn't it enough to let people know the law and then enforce it...?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 08:49 AM EDT
PJ wrote:
But why isn't it enough to let people know the law and then enforce it against those that break the law?

The answer to that is simple. If I stab someone with a knife and kill them, their absence will probably be noticed, and the police will know to investigate, and I will probably be caught. The law against murdering people is enforcable in practice because violators have a significant chance of being caught.

A law against copying something, when said copies can be made in the privacy of your own home without anyone being the wiser, and without directly depriving anyone else of the data you are copying, is not enforceable in practical terms. It does not deter people from said copying, especially if they believe (as I do) that the copying is harmless and/or a naturally "acceptable" thing to do with such digital data.

It's true that people who make their living on the artificial scarcity of data (whether they be authors, or musicians, or journalists or compilers of vast databases of other peoples' personal information, etc.) can no longer indirectly profit off of the sale of (or sale-of-a-license-to) that data.

To which I say, tough beans! It is an intrinsic property of digital data that it can be copied easily and freely. Attempts to distort this natural property of digital data are totally wrongheaded and are either going to fail, or are going to lead us into a sort of "digital dark ages" of DRM and Palladium and other "Big Brother" technologies. History will either remember this century as the century in which information was set free, or it will remember this as a dark time of censorship and cronyism, in which most of the cultural product (music, movies, eBooks, video games and even news!) is locked up in obscure technological lockboxes to which no one still has the keys.

Furthermore, respect for the rule of law requires that (a) the majority of the population believes that the laws we have make sense and are for the greater good, and (b) that the laws are actually enforceable and are enforced against a reasonable percentage (hopefully at least double digits) of violators, and (c) that the laws not criminalize a large percentage of the population for everyday behaviour that they consider acceptable behaviour. Any law that doesn't satisfy those three properties will weaken our respect for the rule of law.

Take speeding, for example. Nearly everybody speeds and only a small percentage of violators are pulled over and penalized for it. Because nearly everybody speeds and they don't think its fair for THEM to be punished when thousands of other people are also speeding and NOT getting caught, people lose respect for the police officers who pull them over for speeding. If we were serious about enforcing the arbitrary speed limits set, we would have photo radar in every state and province, little transponders in every car that communicate with embedded sensors in the road, or whatever. But we aren't serious about enforcing them--the majority of people pulled over for speeding are either travelling dangerously faster than the people around them, weaving through traffic in a hazardous fashion, or else they are just plain unlucky and were pulled over and ticketed to help fill the coffers of a local police force. How many people do you know who think speeding a little bit is a "serious" crime? Well, how come you can get hundreds of dollars of fines and thousands of dollars of increased insurance payments for it? I'm sure shoplifters can get away with less than that, even though shoplifting is (to my mind) a "real" crime.

If our society starts charging people tens of thousands of dollars (or giving jail time) for a harmless and usually-undetected crime like copyright infringement, it will only serve to weaken our respect for the rule of law and weaken the social contract that holds our society together. If we decide to lock up all our media in DRM and Trusted Computing systems that their users can't trust, we might turn around a few decades from now and discover that all our cultural work product in this century is inaccessible and lost forever. It would be incredibly short-sighted for us to act like this. (Though I expect we will do it anyway, and future historians will roundly condemn us for it.)

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Maybe my favourite post
Authored by: Tomka_Gergely on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 09:33 AM EDT

If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do
not realize how complicated life is.

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3000+ C# and .NET opensource projects on SourceForge
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 10:24 AM EDT
There are many C# open source projects on SourceForge (3696 on various
licenses). I'd be more specific in licenses but filtering on
"OSI-Approved" results in 1 result while filtering for GPL results in
2160 projects using both GPL and C# (and typically .NET though some are Mono

Languages and middleware are just tools.


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PJ - Permission to Use??
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 10:24 AM EDT
Gee, PJ. Did you get permission to reprint all that license text? :) :)

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The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 10:37 AM EDT
I wonder if the library at Alexandria was burnt as part of some deranged
"rights management" scheme?

Great writeup, PJ, your best ever.

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The British Library - "Britains Archive"
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 10:46 AM EDT
Do you see how my title is different to yours?

The British Library is:

a) In Britain for the British. As already pointed out it comes under English Law. Nothing to do with US Law - although the US do try to push their law's - especially IP ones onto everyone else in this case they haven't yet. (see patents in Europe for an example of this exact behaviour you object to).

You are implicitly supporting this part of the US's foreign policy and in this case come across as an ignorant yank. The rest of the world popluation *really* objects to you (the US) attempting to shove your culture and laws upon us in complete disregard of our own. Yes we can also be really touchy about it too - it's funny but about the only thing that sparks patriotism here in England is an ignorant American otherwise we're too ashamed of appearing like a far right lunatic (still left of both US parties though in many respects). That's why we don't tend to go around waving the St Georges' Cross or Union Jack (The world is now increacingly split into the US and the rest, the rest of the world even have a common flag; it's the US one on fire - Joke).

This is sad because I know you're not an ignorant yank (at least on the subject of American Law and SCO/IBM).

Of course you as an American have to pay for it (regardless of the fact that I do too, a Brit BTW and I have in the past). Just like you'll have to pay for any BBC archive content (I hope) - I'll already have contributed via license fees and taxation. Actually I think the BL if serious about becoming a digital lender should seriously talk to the BBC. However even the BBC uses either Real or MS DRM in their on-line content at the moment. What's next - an attack on Auntie?

b) Not a lending library for the general public. It really has little role in lending. It's an archive and very sensibly they've decided to archive the *manuscripts*. The BL is well aware of the foibles of data retention and access (partially because of DRM and other close format issues, which you are correct to campaign about). As a result the BL archives the paper copies. No-one would archive digital copies of books when they've the original - it's not a persistant storage medium.

In Britian if you want a book you go to your local library - or that local library comes to you - we have vans with libraries on board - my Mum is a librarian on one. From these libraries one can request almost any book published, and they'll get it (and even deliver it to within a few hundred yards of your housw). It is the other libraries that should request the book from the BL. They'll let you have it *if* it's not to valuable. Otherwise you can arrange to go and visit the manuscript itself.

So this action is actually the BL opening up a little and allowing easier access. I'm not sure why they bother (maybe this is for the older and more valuable texts that can't be let out and is designed for inter-library loan in this manner?).

Let the lending libraries figure out if and how they want to digitise their collections and distribute them. That's what they do. The BL however is really a store. They have a history of making it difficult to access their services because they should be the last resort. With this move I believe they are continuing their tradition.

If as your article seems to suggest public lending libraries use the same system as the BL then that would be a problem and is something to highlight as a concern... However that's not in any way a done deal and the BL *is not a lending library* and so your criticism of it is unfounded.

It's a shame, your article has some really good points, but the signal to noise ratio is low. I think you've perhaps picked the worst possible example to use.

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DRM is the tip of the iceberg
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 11:45 AM EDT
The application of DRM is part of a much larger, and much more dangerous process which has been taking place for a long time.

At its core, its a reversal of the English based principle of law that people are innocent of any crime until they are proven guilty. The assumption now is that you are guilty, we just havn't got around to catching you yet.

DRM is one example where it is assumed that you are a criminal, and so you are not trusted to be law abiding, you are placed in a legal and technological strait-jacket to ensure that you behave exactly as desired.

Kitchen knives were mentioned as being potentially lethal weapons. Does it surprise you to know that there are moves afoot to ban them in the UK? That a carpet layer was charged with possession of a deadly weapon because he had a knife he used to cut carpet in his tool bag? In the US you are not allowed to have even normal eating utensils on an airplane.

In the US there are continuous attempts to regulate firearms on the basis that they are dangerous and may be used to commit horrible crimes (like kitchen knives), and so must be banned because of this. The principle that one lunatic in 50 million is enough to require that the 50 million be controlled to prevent that one from being able to act -- just like DRM.

Another example? the Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently trying hard to ban the sale of certain chemicals which could be used to produce low-level explosives and fireworks. These chemicals have many other uses, and are not illegal to sell, buy or posess. Even the manufacture of small quantities of explosive is not illegal, and require no BATFE permits unless the explosives are to be stored rather than used immediately. The basis of the legal actions taken by the CPSC is that they want sale banned because you could manufacture an explosive (legal) and potentially use it for some illegal purpose.

The trend of passing laws and introducing technological means to control your actions to prevent you breaking a law, even if it means restricting your freedoms is dangerous and needs to be opposed in every domain.

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  • rather odd odds - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 12:54 PM EDT
The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Authored by: stuart_b on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 12:15 PM EDT
"A copyright fee? What is that for?"

I know that was actually meant as somewhat sarcastic, but a fair question.

And the publishers have arranged blanket licensing of materials under an
orginization called Copyright Clearance Center. The idea is that non-exempt use
of materials is as easy as use exempted under fair use or fair dealing, because
there is a convenient way of determining how much a fee is due and paying that
fee. But there's a sad irony to that in the fact that the very existence of
such an institution has diminished applicability of fair use. (See:

What might be something of a bright side is that even as publishers are getting
increasingly determined that libraries use DRM in furnishing digital content to
patrons, that they have been less enthusiastic about using DRM and copy
protection in what they themselves furnish. The reason is simply that these
technologies are inherently troublesome, and they don't really care if a library
or document delivery service has to provide tech support, but would just as soon
not have to do so themselves. Why that is a good thing is that content provided
by them to libraries constitutes an archive, while that provided by libraries to
patrons is essentially ephemera. Their enforcing DRM on libraries is designed
to insure it remains so.

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The British Library - "The world's knowledge" DRM'd and for a price
Authored by: philc on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 12:35 PM EDT
One of the reasons that "The world's knowledge" is available today is
because someone wrote it down, someone published it and thereby broadcast it
throughout the world, and, most importantly, at least 1 copy has survived.

This is very troubling. Much of the record of the last cnetury may simply expire
and be gone for ever. There will be fewer copies around. How many people buy a
book and go back to it decades later? Won't happen any more. Libraries will
effectively be a short term memory of today.

One of the major reasons that we have the depth of knowledge of the past is
bacause we can still read about it. This won't happen in the future.

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Authored by: CustomDesigned on Tuesday, May 09 2006 @ 11:02 PM EDT
DRMed ebooks are completely worthless. For just plain reading, ebooks are
inferior to paper books. Paper books are portable, light, can be read in bed,
require no power. Ebooks have awkward, fragile, low resolution screens. The
only advantage of a real ebook is that you can copy it digitally. You can cut
and paste portions, search, and manipulate. You can convert in into special
formats for various devices, and access it from anywhere.

The DRM schemes render ebooks worthless. If the only thing I am allowed to do
is read it at an uncomfortable angle at a single machine - phooey. I am much
better off borrowing or even buying a paper copy. What idiot is going to spend
money on a DRMed ebook, when they can buy a much more functional and durable
paper copy instead?

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I'm puzzled - "Electronically storing" is prohibited?
Authored by: luvr on Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 09:00 AM EDT
The article mentions a few times that you are not allowed to "electronically store," or to "store in any electronic medium," the materials that you obtain digitally.

I'm puzzled: Since you receive the materials in a digital format, you will have no choice but to "electronically store" them, will you?
Or am I misunderstanding the terms here?

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