Public Libraries & DRM at Wired

Some frank words about Overdrive and the mess that is DRM:

The point of libraries is to make content freely available for the common good, I thought, so these restrictions are a little weird. Physical library cards don’t require a certain type of wallet; why should the electronic ones only work on Windows? I asked Chris Pasco-Pranger, a “willfully unemployed librarian” (his words), to explain the system, and he had some choice words for the OverDrive system.

Here’s how he responded (edited for clarity and length):

“Any patron of a member library can download titles (eBooks, audio, etc.) available from Overdrive to a home PC for a specified loan period. Typically, one approaches the service through a Public Library’s website, for example at Brooklyn Public Library –> eBooks, eVideo & eAudio in the left navbar –> Search the Digital Media Catalog. You can add titles to a cart and then checkout using your library card number. A DRM scheme is applied, so you can only play a given title during the lending period, you can’t burn it to disc, etc.

“The biggest problem (by far) with Overdrive (‘Our strategic technology partners include Microsoft Corporation, Adobe Systems, Inc., and Mobipocket.’) is its lack of support for Macs/iPods. Read the FAQ and weep. Of course, Overdrive would say that it’s Apple that doesn’t support THEM, because, y’know, Overdrive is SO much bigger of a deal than the iPod. Oh, the DRM headaches…