Although “The Digital Paradox: How Copyright Laws Keep E-Books Locked Up“ appears in SPIEGEL ONLINE and focuses on ebook restrictions in Germany, the situation rings true worldwide. The article notes that legitimate publisher concerns about copyright and the fear of pirated copies has led to lending limits on libraries and use restrictions on readers. And as author Hilmar Schmundt points out, these constraints are not limited to ebooks. “The issue isn’t just the latest crime novel bestseller. The issue is the core of the knowledge economy: essays, articles and books from researchers.”
Schmundt sees the seeming contradiction in this situation noting that “it is the sheer ease with which electronic publications can be sent around the world that is now resulting in their being locked up behind digital bars.” And unfortunately, the resulting emphasis on copyright protection has resulted in number of absurd situations which he readily points out with quotes from librarians and researchers. Schmundt also recounts the familiar argument that the system allows publishers to profit inordinately from research funded by taxpayers.
However, Schmundt ends his article on a positive note. He reports on some promising compromises that are being made being between content suppliers and publishers as well as small but effective changes in copyright protections. But of course, in order to learn the specifics, you’ll have to read the article. Fortunately, it’s a quick and easy read that is well worth the time and effort.