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August 26, 2005
Lending? To Whom?
It's Friday, so it must be stupid ideas time again. AP story (here on SiliconValley.com) to the effect that some libraries are "lending" audiobooks via download. The period of lending is controlled via DRM, which locks you out of the file if you run over your time.
This strikes me as a pinnacle of absurdity - lending libraries impose time limits on physical volumes because my possession of the book prevents another patron from reading it. Downloads... um, DON'T. All the patrons could download the same book and no one's having a copy on their hard disk would impede another's listening pleasure.
DRM might be justified if it attempted to prevent a patron making or distributing copies, but if I'm borrowing a book rather than buying it, what difference does it make how long I hold that borrow? Libraries permit patrons to renew or extend the lending period on a physical book, so long as there's no one waiting for it. There is no one sitting around waiting for me to finish listening to my download. Really. I promise.
(I'm not even going to get into the stupidity of having a download system that's incompatible with the majority player used by the community the library is supposed to serve - iPod. It's rather like a US library stocking volumes written solely in French.)
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