Digital Policy Management Workshop

British Library Conference Centre, London

24 April 2006

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Introduction | Programme | Venue


Digital Policy Management: an introduction to the concept

Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology is commonly portrayed as a mechanism for restricting access to and use of digital content. On the contrary, a properly implemented Digital Policy Management infrastructure will facilitate the widest possible use of digital content, supporting the interests of library users, libraries and rights owners.

"Access and use policies" are a traditional element in the management of every library collection. There are many reasons why every item in a library collection may not be accessible to every library user; and the uses to which different items may be put are frequently not uniform across the complete collection. Policies may derive from internally-determined library practice, from the legal framework within which the library operates or from licence agreements with controllers of copyrights. In the physical world, the management of these policies is relatively easily managed by physical constraints and occasional human intervention.

However, if libraries are to take full advantage of the opportunities that the network creates for wider access to their growing digital collection, relying on physical constraints and human intervention creates insurmountable barriers to efficient management. In a networked environment, there are no convincing arguments that physical constraints provide the optimum mechanism for managing policies (for example, by restricting access to content to particular terminals in particular physical locations). Rather, we should seek to find technical solutions to a technical problem.

Technology is commonly deployed to manage access and use policies in computer systems. However, commonly used approaches create a rather blunt instrument in policy management in the library context. In order to avoid inadvertent breach of policies, a "lowest common denominator" approach is taken to managing access and use - in other words, applying the most restrictive policies which apply to an entire collection of content. If different policies apply to the same content item in different contexts, it becomes necessary to maintain multiple copies of the same content in different collections. The first of these imposes unnecessary constraints on users; the second is ultimately unscalable.

What are commonly called Digital Rights Management technologies (DRM) potentially provide a solution to this challenge. However, in this context, DRM needs to be seen as having a number of different components, which are significant at different points in the content lifecycle. Our definition of "DRM" is therefore much broader than is commonly understood:

Purpose of workshop

By the end of the workshops, the participants should:

This should contribute to:

This conference will take place at the British Library Conference Centre on 24 April 2006.


All delegates must register in order to attend this workshop. There is no charge for attendance at this conference but an administration fee of 50 will be charged for a no-show. Replacement delegates will be accepted.

To register please email and include the following information:

Registration will close on 13 April and early registration would be appreciated.

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Introduction | Programme | Venue

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Page last revised on: 28-Mar-2006
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