Monthly Archives: March 2007

MIT does the right thing: tells SAE to take their DRM and shove it!

Kudos to MIT! Here’s the gist of the article. SAE decided to protect their content with DRM. MIT did not like it so they decided to stop providing access to SAE’s database. Most interesting is the reaction of the faculty:

In addition to Professor Cheng, the MIT Libraries consulted with other faculty members who publish or use SAE content. The responses were uniformly against accepting DRM, even if it meant losing ready access to SAE papers. When informed that the SAE feels the need to impose DRM to protect their intellectual property, Professor John Heywood, the Director of MIT’s Sloan Automotive Lab, who publishes his own work with the SAE, responded with a question: “Their intellectual property?” He commented that increasingly strict and limiting restrictions on use of papers that are offered to publishers for free is causing faculty to become less willing to “give it all away” when they publish.

Publishers cannot bite the hand that feeds them without risking their very livelihood.

The fear of writing critical reviews

Professor Tamanaha posted an interesting blog entry in which he admits having become a coward: he no longer wants to write negative reviews of books.

Tamanaha seems to have made his mind up, but I am still deliberating what my own stance is going to be. I always tell my students that their grades does not represent their worth as persons but the message rarely seems to register. Critical comments meant to point out ways to improve are taken as personal attacks. A similar kind of problematic occurs in relationships with colleagues and those standing higher in the academic hierarchy (yes, they also make mistakes sometimes).

Contrarily to what some of the comments on Prof. Tamanaha suggest, this problem is not only present in academia. I’ve had experience in the technological sector and my wife manages an IT group. It’s been our experience that this kind of fear of providing critical comments is also quite present there.