DRM, e-books and a norwegian version of DiViBib

The german library e-lending system DiViBib is a controversial system for allowing libraries to lend electronic content, films, e-books and music, with a number of limitations. The system allows only the number of copies that the library has purchased to be borrowed, and the content can only be re-issued when the lending time is up. A pretty traditional “physical object” kind of system. The system also uses DRM to prevent copying and the use on several different units.

There is a major discussion among German librarians on this. I have blogged (in norwegian) favorably on DiViBib because I believe that this is a means to get norwegian publishers to start publishing e-books. So far, none of the larger norwegian publishers have published e-books since the great e-book bust of 2001. Today there is almost no really interesting or new material
published as e-books in norwegian. This is a problem for norwegian libraries, and DiViBib may be the solution to getting publishers to start publishing e-books, and thus get e-books to the public.

The limitations of DRM and outdated lending model are problematic, but also useful for making e-book publishing and lending “safe and familiar” to publishers and librarians that are sceptical of e-books and digital libraries in general. The introduction of DiViBib in norwegian libraries will give norwegian publishers a “safe” place to try e-book publishing. The Norwegian library bureau will act as an “responsible” agency and the main interface between publishers and norwegian libraries, and the introduction of DiViBib will also introduce e-books and digital material to a majority of norwegian librarians who are not familiar, or comfortable, with these new procedures and new forms of interaction between users and materials.

I do not believe that the restrictions on lending, and the DRM, will be major problems for this introduction. The majority of library uses, will probably not mind, ( just look at the sales figures for DRMed music) and over time the idea of DRM-free dissemination of library material will probably win out when publishers and librarians see that the public is not a “bunch of thieves” but ordinary people that acutally understand and approve of the need of authors and creators to be paid for their work.

We are in a time of change and new models for how library material and users are connected will surface as we gain experience and a deeper understanding of the processes involved.

I'm a norwegian librarian.

Posted in DiViBib, DRM, E-books, Library 2.0
3 comments on “DRM, e-books and a norwegian version of DiViBib
  1. PatrickD says:

    At the first view you are right, DRM will help publishers to go digital but it can also cause some problems. Not all users can use the books or music (Mac or Linux users have until now a problem with the DiViBib Content.) Also it’s just a 1:1 transfer of the library in the digital space and this will not made use of the changes of the digital medium. Thatswhy i don’t think that the DiViBib is a library 2.0. I ask the people of DiViBib also to integrate Open Content like free e-books or netlabel and maybe some podcasts (or make the platform so open, that librarians can do that). This will make this new medium more visible for the “normal” not nerd user. There is a lot of free content out there and we as librarians should also integrate this beside the pay content and the end the user will decide what he likes more.

    To you example, DRM-music is at the moment in the discussion. And a first mayor label doesn’t use it anymore if you pay a little more. Also DRM on CDs is used not so much anymore because it made to many problems.

  2. Actually this is exactly why I am in favor of working with DiViBib instead of waiting for things to “solve themselves”. DRM will dissapear as it is a detriment to sales and income.

    And yes, there are several problems with DiViBib, but here in Norway, it is the only realistic solution. If we want content in norwegian, we have to get publishers to start publishing e-books, and DiViBib seems to be the solution that publishers will accept. If you or anybody else can point to an open solution that publishers will accept I´ll be more than happy to go with that, but nobody has in this discussion pointed to an alternative.

    I am an Mac user so I´m of course afraid that I will not get a chance to use DiViBib, but today I have nothing, so I will be no worse off than I was before, and at least now I have a hope of things getting better, and use a windows machine if I cannot wait:-)

  3. Emod says:

    DRM is less a problem for libraries than in other areas since the traditional model is to lend the materials for a limited time anyway.

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August 2007
The Librarian

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