Libraryman

DRM I

An interesting link (found via BoingBoing) that discusses the impending law dictating that digital televisions be sold only if they support new anti-long term recording flags (that are included in digital TV broadcasts). I know, it sounds ultra nerdy, but this issue has lots of practical application in your life. Basically, now you can legally buy a digital TV tuner (DTV), plug it into your computer and record digital programming for your archives (the same way you can record things now with your VCR). Apparently after August you won?t be able to buy these digital TV tuners unless they support ?flagging?. This ?flagging? will then erase (or make unplayable) your recorded digital content after two weeks (or so). So if you want to record and archive digital television programs in the future (and who won?t) you might think about buying a tuner before August when this law goes into effect. Or should you?

These sorts of DRM issues have impacted and will impact libraries in more ways than are immediately apparent. P2P sharing has decreased circulation of audio CDs in libraries. More of this circ reduction happens when people stream movies and television programs with tools like BitTorrent. Add new things like Google and its many incarnations (Google Print, Scholar, etc), blogs and aggregators and we see circulation and reference questions decrease more and more all the time. We?re all for easy, efficient access though, right?…as long as it is legal? Of course, of course! DRM might be good for our circ, but what does it mean for the promise of the technology we love?or hate? or love to hate? As a librarian it sure seems worth trying to understand and stay informed about this issue.

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