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Can I Email This? The Use Restrictions Found in Licensed Digital Library Resources

Kristin Eschenfelder

(Submission #28)


Recent digital library research has raised concerns about how use restrictions, such as limits on printing or emailing, may affect digital resource usability. This paper describes the results of a study to investigate the types of technological protection measure (TPM) based use restrictions that authorized users of licensed scholarly resources experience when making typical use of licensed resources. Data collection involved a use based assessment of a sample of resources from engineering, health sciences and history/art history. Analysis developed a framework of observed TPM. The framework distinguishes between “hard” and “soft” TPM and identifies 6 subtypes of soft TPM including extent of use, obfuscation, omission, amalgamation, frustration and threat. The study concludes that soft TPM are common in licensed scholarly resources and while hard TPM are less common, they are not unknown. The framework provides a vocabulary to distinguish between different types of use restrictions and to therefore test which use restrictions may create more usability problems.


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