Tuesday, May 10, 2005

More dangerous digits

On 25 April I did tell you that discussion of the digitisation of books was not about to cease, and so it has proved. On Sunday last, Robert McCrum reviewed Nigel Newton's pronouncements on the subject, and tactfully declared them to be less than satisfactory (two cheers, not three).

McCrum's view is that copyright is a robust device for protecting the rights of authors and publishers. In the meantime, he suggests, we should stop whingeing about Google; instead, 'we could celebrate the extraordinary technology that will bring a cornucopia of hitherto inaccessible material before a bigger international audience than ever before.'

Perhaps the key paragraph in McCrum's article is this:
The international copyright convention may have been drafted in the days of hot metal but if the publishers have the willpower and the savoir faire, copyright legislation can be redrafted to take account of the 'Napsterisation' threat.
Willpower and savoir faire you note. Well, willpower is one thing; savoir faire is another. That publishers are desperate to protect their sources of income is in no doubt; that they have the intellectual resources to come up with sensible digital-rights-management policies is not so certain. The present rather feeble and counter-productive efforts can only be regarded, if you're feeling generous, as the first faltering footsteps on a steep learning curve.

No comments: