Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It's all about ease of access to the content

There has been some postings (2) (3) (4) (5) on MIT's decision to cancel Society of Automotive Engineers’ web-based database of technical papers.

"At a time when technology makes it possible to share research more quickly and broadly than ever before, and when innovative automotive research is a matter of global concern, SAE is limiting access to the research that has been entrusted to the society. In addition to imposing DRM on access to the papers for paid subscribers, the SAE also prevents information about its papers from being found through any channel other than the ones they control.

What does this mean? In contrast to information about research published by other engineering societies, which can be found in databases such as Google, ISI’s Web of Science, or the Compendex engineering database, information about SAE papers is only made available through SAE’s proprietary database. Such policies severely limit access to information about SAE papers, and are out of step with market norms.

One of the roles of publishers is disseminate quality content and to make the access and reach to our content easy. In February 2005 when we launched our e-books offering (Referex) we started with DRM too. Within few days our customers (academic and corporate) started to complain, and they were right, it was a painful process for them to install the plug-ins. Based on their feedback, we stopped using DRM in May 2005.

Lesson learned: trust the customer and forget the DRM today when "open collaboration" is picking up.

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