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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Why DRM is bad for Government Information

A recent article in GROKLAW critiques the extreme way one library is implementing digital rights management (DRM) and how it impacts fair use, first-sale, and re-usability of information. While focusing on the British Library, it does an excellent job of pointing out the dangers of DRM. Can we imagine the Future Digital System having documents that expire, that can’t be printed, that are bound by contractual restrictions (not copyright!), that can be read on only one machine, that can’t be copied, etc. etc.?

GPO should disavow such uses of DRM, but it has never done so.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1. This reminds me of how the print version of the “Statistical Abstract
    of the United States” has tables that don’t appear in the online version because the Census Bureau did not get permission to release them online. One of the strengths of government documents is that they’re rooted in the public domain; DRM uproots them and converts them into a commodity whose distribution can be limited.

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