Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Does OA need DRM?

Richard Poynder, The role of digital rights management in Open Access, Indicare, April 22, 2005. Also available on Richard's blog. Abstract: 'Growing conviction that scientific progress will significantly benefit if scholarly articles and research papers are made freely available on the Web has given rise to the Open Access (OA) movement. While there is some awareness that OA articles may require digital rights management (DRM), there is currently only low-level interest in the topic, with many OA advocates maintaining that it has no relevance to OA. The issue is complicated by the fact that there are currently two ways in which research papers are made OA, each of which has different implications from a rights point of view.'

From the body of the article: 'Given the...struggle simply to make Open Access happen many OA advocates argue that worrying about DRM today could prove a distraction from the more important task of "freeing the refereed literature." Since many also view DRM as synonymous with the use of "technical measures" designed to restrict access, rather than as a broad set of tools for managing rights in a digital environment, there is a tendency to see DRM as an issue for proprietary interests alone. The danger is, however, that if the OA movement fails to engage with the topic those proprietary interests may set the DRM agenda, to the possible detriment of OA. Nevertheless, some preliminary work on DRM is being done by the OA movement, and the growing success of the Creative Commons (cf. sources) may encourage OA advocates to take a greater interest in the topic....What [the] narrow view of DRM overlooks, however, is that digital rights management implies something broader than access control alone. It can also be used, for instance, to ensure correct author attribution, to certify document integrity and provenance, to prevent plagiarism, and indeed to enable creators assert their rights in ways that encourage rather than restrict access.'