Posted by: Steven Harris | July 7, 2008

Digi Vid Morass

Online digital media looks to be a swamp…a bog…a morass for libraries and librarians. Licensing and DRM promise to be [near] intractable issues in making digital media, especially video, available to library users. This has been a heavy topic on the videolib discusion list. In fact, the videolib inhabitants have planned a pre-conference meeting at the National Media Market in September to discuss online video licensing. There is a blog set up and a white paper written by Gary Handman (UC Berkeley) and Lawrence Daressa (California Newsreel) to raise the relevant issues.

The white paper deals admirably with the situation from both a library and a vendor perspective. A lot of different licensing models are discussed. The major question for librarians will be, like with other forms of information, how much do we try to preserve materials in perpetuity verses serving immediate and short-term user needs?

It does gall me to pay endless fees without actually owning something. I do, however, like the idea of employing a variety of approaches: perhaps licensing materials that can be paid on a per-use basis, but also selecting some items for perpetual ownership. But perpetual ownership of online digital media may be hard (if not impossible) for vendors to deliver. Nobody owns digital media forever, and, therefore, they don’t have the rights to license it to others. Ah, it is interesting times we live in.

PS: They ARE seeking comments on the white paper.

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