A tale of two DRM: The co-construction of access and use rights for licensed digital library resources



This paper explores the process by which access and use rights for licensed digital resources are co-constructed between owners and users of intellectual property through a longitudinal social process. It describes this co-construction process for the development of digital rights management (DRM) technologies on two digital scholarly resources—the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE) Digital Library and ARTstor. The ARTstor DRM development process could be seen as “the best of times” where the vendor actively sought stakeholder input and engaged in user testing. In contrast, the SAE DRM development process can be seen as “the worst of times” where the publisher imposed a DRM on a user group with no input and no user testing. While in both cases the DRM were reconfigured after initial user reactions, the reconfiguration in the ARTstor case was relatively managed and positive in tone, and the reconfiguration in the SAE case was chaotic and openly hostile. Differences in the co-construction of the DRM can be explained in part by differences in publisher attitudes toward academic libraries as customers, difference in the publishers' traditional business models, and differences in ownership of the content within the two digital libraries.