Sharing ancient manuscripts securely – protect against piracy, theft & misuse
Ancient manuscript protection and document control
A key function provided by libraries is to make their collections available to users (borrowers). And this may be currently published work (books, pictures and illustrations), and just as, or perhaps more importantly, making accessible ancient manuscripts.
Ancient manuscripts may be the ‘jewel in the crown’ for a library, but making them available may also be an ‘Achilles heel’ because they tend to be delicate, rare and almost impossible to repair if they are damaged through carelessness or malice. Typically they can only be studied in the library, and possibly only by appointment or under supervision. This can seriously reduce availability for ancient manuscripts, and, say with the restrictions in force during a pandemic, reduce access to almost nothing, owing to a shortage of both librarians and users.
One route forward worth considering is to scan ancient documents and pictures to the PDF format, converting them into digital documents. The PDF format is particularly helpful in that it can cope with the differing document formats (ancient manuscripts have different conventions and few standards) whilst PDF gives a consistency across multiple operating systems and screens/printers. Tablet technology available today allows for simple image re-sizing when a user wishes to examine scanned text and/or images.
But that is not to say that making documents available means necessarily giving them away. There may be terms and conditions that have to be met that were agreed with the original document owner. So it can be very important to be able to prevent copies of documents from being made, especially if they can be faked and inaccurate versions circulated without any control and if there is no attribution as to ownership.
Granting a user a controlled period of access to documents may be important rather than giving free access away forever. Ensuring a level of income from charging for access may be a requirement in order to pay for the storage and curation of ancient manuscripts, and the costs of scanning them. Maintaining controlled access may also require placing watermarks on printed copies to identify the user distributing unauthorized copies whether captured on a camera or taken from a printed copy.
Locklizard is well placed to assist the librarian in sharing ancient manuscripts securely with controlled digital lending. We provide DRM controls that protect ancient manuscripts from piracy, theft and misuse by stopping unauthorized sharing and controlling document use. You can prevent protected PDF documents from being used outside of the library network, or can lock them to specific USB devices and/or machines/users. Start and stop dates for documents are supported, or access can be granted for a number of days (or views) after first use. Actual document use and printing may be logged to support input to charging mechanisms or usage monitoring systems. Printing can be forbidden, and watermarks can be added dynamically to both screen images and print-out. Documents cannot be saved or saved as and the original PDF format cannot be recovered.