DRM and Libraries, what is useful to know

Proprietary formats — whether it’s Windows or Mac — are one of the big issues with ebooks and, therefore, ebooks in libraries. Here is one patron’s response to their library system going with Windows Media format ebooks that won’t play on Macs or Linux machines. He worked out a song with a friend: Your Audio Book Sounds Silent to Me [listen to it, it’s short and fun]. Phil works on digital divide and digital minorities generally. I happen to have read his notes about the song the day he also posted Trying to Update this Site from a Computer at a Public Library. Fascinating.

Do you know who is getting the shortest end of this stick? The tenants in affordable housing units in Northern Virginia where GNU/Linux computer labs have been set up for them to use. Many of these tenants are hardworking immigrant families. Could the adults and children in these families benefit from greater access to audio books? You tell me. “Sorry, buster, you’re a digital minority. No audio books for you. Here, let me relieve you of your taxpayer dollars all the same.” How about this for irony — one of the books currently inaccessible? Martin Luther King, Jr., On Leadership: Inspiration & Wisdom for Challenging Times, by Donald T. Phillips. I hear it’s a good book.


DRM “of no use to artists”?

I’ve been unplugged for a good deal of the past week and I can’t say I’ve minded too much. You can see some pictures here if you like visuals, they have almost no library content, maybe a little museum content. I’m easing back in to plugged-in-edness by reading the latest Cites & Insights and I’m really enjoying the section called ©3: Balancing Rights about the many complicated issues involved with DRM and rights in the digital media world generally. I’ve been scratching the surface of DRM issues in some of my talks, but Walt really picks apart many of the tricky issues involved in his direct and non-axe-grinding way. DRM curious? Go read it.