Professor Cheng Addresses DRM Concerns in Latest MIT Faculty Newsletter

Professor Wai Cheng writes about “The Pitfalls of Digital Rights Management” in the November/December issue of the MIT Faculty Newsletter.

Professor Cheng, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and a fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), spoke out last spring against the limitations of digital rights management (DRM) technology being imposed on access to research published by the SAE through a web-based database of technical papers accessed at MIT through an MIT Libraries’ subscription.

He felt strongly enough about the implications of DRM that he delivered a presentation to the SAE’s Publication Board meeting in April 2007, making a case that the SAE should revoke the new DRM requirement. His presentation resulted in SAE’s immediate stay in implementation of DRM for universities, followed by the appointment of a task force to more fully examine the issue.

The outcome, as announced in an SAE press release this month, is that “As recommended by a special task force, the SAE International Publications Board voted Oct. 31 to eliminate the use of the ‘FileOpen’ plug-in on digital library products for … colleges, universities and other academic institutions.” This means that “In 2008 students and faculty will be able to use SAE International’s Digital Library of Technical Papers in academic settings without the former restrictions.”

Many thanks to Professor Cheng for his efforts to secure flexible access rights to SAE’s papers for MIT and other universities.

Please note that the MIT Libraries canceled web access to the SAE papers last year in response to the imposition of DRM. Information on current access to the papers is available at the Barker Library’s web site.

For more information on MIT faculty who are taking action to improve access to research, see the scholarly publication website.