Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft is Against Open Access, Pro DRM

"DRM is the future."

--Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO





Summary: Microsoft makes the contents of the British Library (shown above) hostage of DRM, limits distribution of material that can be distributed infinitely for the betterment of all society

NOW that we know for sure that Microsoft does not support net neutrality, it is time to approach another related subject, which is what Microsoft has done to the British Library. We last wrote about the subject in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] as the relationship between the British Library and Microsoft is well known and very notorious. Microsoft's entire business model is based on artificiality scarcity, which it is trying to impose upon other areas of life (Apple does too).



As we explained yesterday, Microsoft pretends to favour "Open Source" where it actually promotes software patents and proprietary software with this fraudulent "open-source" label. Likewise, Microsoft can pretend to support Open Access (OA) as much as it wants; its actions show that it does exactly the opposite. Microsoft does, for example, fake the whole "Open Data" thing, where access is granted only to customers of Microsoft. "Open Data" is that misleading label which Microsoft uses to market proprietary, standards-hostile software to governments and this new post from Cambridge is no exception.

I am delighted to be able to help BMC with their Open Data award, co-sponsored by Microsoft (see below which I quote in full).


It is co-sponsored by Microsoft so that they can spread misleading labels and sell an illusion of something "open" at Microsoft. We have given many examples of this. In reality, Microsoft is helping data be locked down and away from those who wish to access it, even with Microsoft's own DRM. There are several examples of that in the British Library and the same blog from Cambridge has a new series of rants about that: [via Glyn Moody, an author who says "shame on you British Library"]

i. When the British Library “improved electronic access with DRM”

Scraped from British Library site without permission into Arcturus I have found the point in time when the British Library [changed or introduced] its DRM. I quote in full (without permission, claiming fair use) and then comment.


ii. The British Library’s Secure Electronic Delivery

* The electronic copy will be available to download from the server at the British Library for 14 days, after which the file will be deleted.

Access and Printing

You are permitted to make only one paper copy from the electronic copy. We recommend printing it out when you first download it.


iii. The British Library: Mission Impossible; I still need information

So I repeat my request for information about ILL and the BL (and local practices). I shan’t publish names if you don’t want. But if I can’t even get correct factual information then I am disappointed and disillusioned. By acquiescing to DRM for academic materials, you are bringing either 1984 or Fahrenheit451 to our future society.


iv. Campaign to liberate Information from The British Library

I am going to ascertain what these procedures are by using the freedom of information act. The University of Cambridge is required to disclose information under the freedom of information act and I shall make an inquiry to ascertain the current procedures and rules for inter library loans. I shall use whatdotheyknow.com to send a request to the University of Cambridge. This request will be public the university, by law, there is required to respond within 20 days. They reply will be public and I hope it will be informative. From this I hope to gather both what the British library is policy and regulations are and what additional regulations (or possibly removal!) Are imposed by Cambridge.


v. Would Ranganathan have approved of DRM?

If the British library had asked “would Ranganathan have approved of DRM?” I think we can guess the answer. I have no idea what the motivation of the DRM is but I do not believe it is primarily introduced to increase the take up of their material and to increase scholarship. I am absolutely certain that it contradicts the first law.


vi. The BL’s position becomes somewhat clearer but additional comments welcome

What's rather clear is that the British Library is pushing society back to analogue, urging citizens to embrace artificial limitations that put preservation too at risk. They are fighting like Luddites, even as a public institution. Given Microsoft cronies like Adam Farquhar, it is not surprising that the British Library has gone off the rails. According to Groklaw, Microsoft is involved here. As Pamela Jones put it, "Can they, for just one issue, guarantee that Microsoft will be around in 50 years? That .Net and Biztalk2004 will still work? If not, then what?"

Microsoft's patent frenzy too is an example of where the company's policies prove extremely harmful to society. How about this publisher who seeks a patent on peer review?

A scientist in Switzerland is seeking to patent a system for peer reviewing and publishing scientific papers online, Nature has learned.

Henry Markram, a neuroscientist and publishing entrepreneur who works at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, last year filed internationally for a broad patent on systems for interactive online peer review and publishing open-access journals.

The application, says Markram, was filed mainly to protect a fleet of author-pays, open-access journals published by the Lausanne-based Frontiers Media, a company he created in 2008 with his wife Kamila Markram, another neuroscientist at the EPFL.


Ridiculous. These people hold back society and put intellectual achievements (which human civilisation depends on for its survival) in jeopardy.

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