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DAISY Board of Directors Position Statement on Digital Rights Management (DRM)

DAISY Consortium Board of Directors
November 2007

Accessibility of digital content including commercial and non-commercial eBooks and DAISY Books is of paramount concern to the DAISY Community. A major issue in this domain is Digital Rights Management (DRM) and the Board of Directors of the DAISY Consortium wishes to make its position on this issue publicly known.

The DAISY Board does not in any way promote DRM. The Board believes that DRM limits the legitimate use of digital publications by persons who are blind and print disabled. Persons who use Assistive Technology commonly manipulate digital publications in ways that most people without disabilities do not understand. Moving an eBook to a portable device with refreshable braille, or copying it to a hand held device for reading "on the go" are two simple examples of common legitimate usage that are prevented by DRM. From a content management or library perspective, DRM can complicate or make impossible the upgrade of digital collections to new and future technologies. For these and other sound reasons, the DAISY Board is publishing this statement to discourage the use of traditional DRM encryption whenever possible.

DAISY Consortium Members have distributed more than 10 million DAISY books over the past four years without complex DRM or watermark systems being used and with no reports of any issues of abuse or commercial loss by rights holders. These books include such valuable intellectual properties as the latest Harry Potter released in accessible format on the day of print publication, and serious academic and reference books.

Copyright laws vary from country to country, and the DAISY Consortium is a truly international association. To support our Member organizations in countries where DRM is absolutely required by law or by the copyright holders, and when no other option would meet those requirements, the DAISY Consortium developed a DRM system called the "Protected Digital Talking Book" (PDTB) specification. Its use is not promoted by the Consortium.

We are now seeing much greater acceptance of "watermarking" and "fingerprinting" rather than encryption in DRM systems to discourage illegal use of content. We believe that no encryption or watermarking is the single best approach, but do understand that there are rare situations in which these must be used. We are also seeing significantly reduced use of powerful DRM in commercial operations. The mainstream markets are rejecting heavy-duty DRM systems in favor of a more flexible approach. The Board feels that it is inappropriate to use strong DRM for content targeted for use by persons with disabilities, when the mainstream uses a less strict system; this is inappropriate.

The DAISY Consortium Board very much believes in preserving the intellectual property rights of copyright holders, and we promote this in everything we do. We feel that if a DAISY Consortium Member is explicitly required by the copyright holder and/or the laws of that country to use technological safeguards, then this must be respected.

The Board wishes to make public the fact that the DAISY Consortium's development of a royalty free, open DRM specification was the result of market forces from several years ago that demanded tight control over all digital content. In the specification itself, it states that this should only be used when all other approaches have failed.

The DAISY Consortium Board of Directors