21 March 2007

Three Cheers for MIT

Here's an interesting tale that highlights the absurdity of DRM in the context of scientific publishing - not a sphere where you normally expect to encounter it:

The MIT Libraries have canceled access to the Society of Automotive Engineers’ web-based database of technical papers, rejecting the SAE’s requirement that MIT accept the imposition of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology.


When informed that the SAE feels the need to impose DRM to protect their intellectual property, Professor John Heywood, the Director of MIT’s Sloan Automotive Lab, who publishes his own work with the SAE, responded with a question: “Their intellectual property?” He commented that increasingly strict and limiting restrictions on use of papers that are offered to publishers for free is causing faculty to become less willing to “give it all away” when they publish.

Echoing Professor Heywood, Alan Epstein, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, believes that “If SAE limits exposure to their material and makes it difficult for people to get it, faculty will choose to publish elsewhere.” He noted that “SAE is a not-for-profit organization and should be in this for the long term,” rather than imposing high prices and heavy restrictions to maximize short-term profit.

As this makes clear, the SAE is attempting to protect an intellectual monopoly it has on other people's work by imposing DRM, which adds insult to injury. Let's hope more institutions can follow MIT's fine example, and nip this DRM madness in the bud. (Via Open Access News.)

No comments: