ADE in the Library eBook Data Lifecycle

Reader: “Hey, I heard there is some sort of problem with those ebooks I checked out from the library?”

Librarian: “There are technical problems, potential legal problems, and philosophical problems – but not with the book itself nor your choice to read it.”

[Update 2014.10.14@12.04pm: more info on security in the library data lifecycle added at the bottom of this post]

As mentioned, there are (at least) three sides to the problem. Nate Hoffelder* discovered the technical problem with the way the current version (4) of Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) manages the ebook experience, which was confirmed by security researcher Benjamin Daniel Mussler, and later reviewed by Eric Hellman. The technical problem, that arguably private data is sent in plain text from a reader’s device to a central data-store, seems pretty obvious once it was discovered. The potential legal problem stems from laws in every state which protect reader privacy which set expectations for data security, plus other laws which may apply. The philosophical problem has several facets, which could be simplified down to the tension between privacy and convenience.

When a widely-used software platform is found to be logging data unexpectedly and transmitting it for some unknown use it causes great unease among users. When that transmission is happening in plain text over easily-intercepted channels, it causes anger among technologists who think a leading software developer should know better. When this is all happening in the context of the library world where privacy is highly valued, there is outrage as expressed by LITA Board member Andromeda Yelton.

Here are the library profession’s basic positions:

  1. Each individual’s reading choices and behavior should be private (i.e. anonymized or, better, not tracked)
  2. Data gathered for user-desired functionality across devices should be private (i.e. anonymized)
  3. Insofar as there is any tracking of reading choices and behavior, there should be an opt-out option readily available to individuals (i.e, not buried in the fine print)

In his October 9th post from The Digital Shift, Matt Enis reports that Adobe is working to correct the problem of data being transmitted in clear text but “maintains that its collection of this data is covered under its user agreement.” The data that corporations transmit should be limited to the data and data elements necessary to provide desired functionality yet also restricted enough for an individual’s activity to remain private.

To join the conversation, begin to educate yourself using our ADE Primer, below, plus the following resources:

A Primer on how Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) works with library ebooks

I’m a reader and I go to use a library ebook
(via Overdrive or other downloading service offered):

  1. what will I need to install on my device(s)?
    (laptop, tablet, phone, & iPod let’s assume)

    • laptop/computer: Adobe Digital Editions (ADE), activated with an Adobe ID
    • tablet, phone, iPod, etc.: Bluefire Reader (or compatible) app, activated with an Adobe ID
  2. how do the various devices know which page to show me next when I switch between them?
    • access and synchronization across devices are managed using the Adobe ID and the information associated with the ebook and by data tracked with ADE
  3. what technologies are behind the scenes?
    • the ADE managed digital rights management (DRM) required by the ebook publisher
    • the ebook reader software/app
    • the internet
  4. what data is needed to be able to do the sync?
    • the minimum required data is arguably the UserID, BookID, and a page-accessed timestamp
    • the current ADE version, ADE4, tracks significantly more data than the minimums above
  5. how is that data shared between devices?
    • Users can access their ADE account from up to 6 different devices. When accessing the ID/account from a new device the user must “activate” the device by logging into the Adobe ID/Account to prove that the user is the legitimate account holder.
    • ADE4 shares all ebook data it tracks in plain-text in an unsecured channel over the internet
  6. what functionality would not work if this were suddenly not provided?
    • if ADE did not provide reader tracking data, each time a reader opened an ebook on a different device the reader would have to remember the page s/he was on and then navigate to that page to continue reading from where they left off
    • A computer can be anonymously activated using ADE, however this will prevent the items from being accessible from more than one computer/device. The ebooks would then be considered to be “owned” by that computer and would not be available to be accessed from other devices.
    • if ADE were completely withdrawn from availability, ebook DRM would prevent use of ADE-managed DRM-protected ebooks

From a technology point of view, the clear-text data transmitted suggests the data may be for synchronization, but it seems, first and foremost, to support various licensing business models. Because Adobe might in the future have customers who want to use Adobe DRM to expire a book after a certain number of hours or pages read, they may feel the need to collect that data. Adobe’s data collection seems to be working as intended here. Clear-text transmission is clearly a bug, but that this data about patron reading habits is being transmitted to Adobe is a feature of the software.

The philosophical discussion which needs to happen around ebooks and DRM should include:

  • what data elements enable user-desired functionality
  • what data elements enable digital rights management
  • what data elements above are/are not within ALA’s stated professional ethics
  • whether tracking ebook user behavior is acceptable *at all*

From libraryland conversations around the issue so far, opinions have ranged from ‘tracking is not the problem, the clear-text transmission is‘ to ‘tracking is very much a problem, it’s unacceptable.’

Issues like this highlight the need to revisit stated positions and evaluate where the balance point is between accomodating user functionality and protecting against collection of personally identifiable data, or metadata.

*Post updated to correctly credit Nate Hoffelder as the original discoverer (my apologies!)

[Update with more on the library data cycle from Gary Price of INFOdocket below]

  • According to OverDrive: “It is our understanding that the reported issue involves Adobe Digital Editions 4, which is not used as part of the OverDrive app.” Meaning this ADE4 problem does not affect their apps for Android, iOS, etc., it is only for the ADE console which is installed on computers and laptops.
  • Pulling more from Gary’s long-time informtional and eductaional posts about library data and privacy, there are data insecurities in the configuration of many library services which involve sharing library user data with third parties such as Adobe, Amazon, library catalog vendors, etc.
  • As Gary correctly points out: “issues with any third parties having access to library user data need to be discussed not only in the library community but also directly with users.”

2014 LITA Forum: 3 Amazing Keynotes

Join your LITA colleagues in Albuquerque, Nov 5-8, 2041 for the 2014 LITA Forum.

This year’s Forum has three amazing keynotes you won’t want to miss:

AnnMarie Thomas, Engineering Professor, University of St. Thomas

AnnMarie is an engineering professor who spends her time trying to encourage the next generation of makers and engineers. Among a host of other activities she is the director of the Playful Learning Lab and leads a team of students looking at both the playful side of engineering (squishy circuits for students, the science of circus, toy design) and ways to use engineering design to help others. AnnMarie and her students developed Squishy Circuits.

Check out AnnMarie’s fun Ted Talk on Play-Doh based squishy circuits.

Lorcan Dempsey, Vice President, OCLC Research and Chief Strategist

Lorcan Dempsey oversees the research division and participates in planning at OCLC. He is a librarian who has worked for library and educational organizations in Ireland, England and the US.

Lorcan has policy, research and service development experience, mostly in the area of networked information and digital libraries. He writes and speaks extensively, and can be followed on the web at Lorcan Dempsey’s weblog and on twitter.

Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Founder Trans*h4ck

Kortney Ryan Ziegler is an Oakland based award winning artist, writer, and the first person to hold the Ph.D. of African American Studies from Northwestern University.

He is the director of the multiple award winning documentary, STILL BLACK: a portrait of black transmen, runs the GLAAD Media Award nominated blog, blac (k) ademic, and was recently named one of the Top 40 Under 40 LGBT activists by The Advocate Magazine and one of the most influential African Americans by TheRoot100.

Dr. Ziegler is also the founder of Trans*H4CK–the only tech event of its kind that spotlights trans* created technology, trans* entrepreneurs and trans* led startups.

See all the keynoters full bios at the LITA Forum Keynote Sessions web page

More than 30 concurrent colleague inspired sessions and a dozen poster sessions will provide a wealth of practical information on a wide range of topics. Networking opportunities, a major advantage of a smaller conference, are an important part of the Forum. Take advantage of the Thursday evening reception and sponsor showcase, the Friday networking dinners or Kitchen Table Conversations, plus meals and breaks throughout the Forum to get to know LITA leaders, Forum speakers, sponsors, and peers.

This year two preconference workshops will also be offered.

Linked Data for Libraries: How libraries can make use of Linked Open Data to share information about library resources and to improve discovery, access, and understanding for library users
Led by: Dean B. Krafft and Jon Corson-Rikert, Cornell University Library

Learn Python by Playing with Library Data
Led by: Francis Kayiwa, Kayiwa Consulting

2014 LITA Forums sponsors include EBSCO, Springshare, @mire, Innovative and OCLC.

Visit the LITA website for more information.

Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) members are information technology professionals dedicated to educating, serving, and reaching out to the entire library and information community.   LITA is a division of the American Library Association.

LITA and the LITA Forum fully support the Statement of Appropriate Conduct at ALA Conferences

Jobs in Information Technology: October 8

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week

IT Assistant Coordinator, Colorado State University,  Fort Collins, CO
Publications Specialist, Computercraft, Bethesda, MD
Senior Web Developer, University of Maryland Baltimore – Health Sciences and Human Services Library, Baltimore, MD

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a  job posting.

Jobs in Information Technology: Oct 1

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week

Dean of the Library, California Maritime Academy, Vallejo, CA

Library Systems and  Applications Specialist, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, OH

Manager, Digital Services, Florida Virtual Campus, Gainesville, FL

Senior Software Developer, University of Maryland, College Park – Libraries, College Park, MD

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a  job posting.

2014 LITA Forum Student Registration Rate Deadline Extended

forum2014cactusThe special student registration rate to the 2014 LITA National Forum has been extended through Monday October 6th, 2014.  The Forum will be held November 5-8, 2014 at the Hotel Albuquerque in Albuquerque, NM. Learn more about the Forum here.

This special rate is intended for a limited number of graduate students enrolled in ALA accredited programs. In exchange for a discounted registration, students will assist the LITA organizers and the Forum presenters with on-site operations. This year’s theme is “Transformation: From Node to Network.” We are anticipating an attendance of 300 decision makers and implementers of new information technologies in libraries.

The selected students will be expected to attend the full LITA National Forum, Thursday noon through Saturday noon. This does not include the pre-conferences on Thursday and Friday. You will be assigned a variety of duties, but you will be able to attend the Forum programs, which include 3 keynote sessions, 30 concurrent sessions, and a dozen poster presentations.

The special student rate is $180 – half the regular registration rate for LITA members. This rate includes a Friday night reception at the hotel, continental breakfasts, and Saturday lunch. To get this rate you must apply and be accepted per below.

To apply for the student registration rate, please provide the following information:

  • Complete contact information including email address,
  • The name of the school you are attending, and
  • 150 word (or less) statement on why you want to attend the 2014 LITA Forum

Please send this information no later than October 6, 2014 to lita@ala.org, with “2014 LITA Forum Student Registration Request” in the subject line.

Those selected for the student rate will be notified no later than October 10, 2014.

Jobs in Information Technology: September 24

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing.  Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week

Associate University Librarian for Digital Initiatives & Services #12153, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA

Digital Projects Librarian, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

E-Resources Librarian, Midwestern University, Downers Grove, IL

Learning Technologies Librarian, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, TX

Systems Librarian, Georgetown University,  Washington, DC

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a  job posting.

LITA Members: take the LITA Education Survey

LITA members, please participate in the LITA Education Survey. The survey was first sent out 2 weeks ago to all current LITA members.  Another reminder will appear in LITA members email boxes soon, or you can click the links in this posting. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes of your time and will help your LITA colleagues developing continuing education programs to meet your needs.

LITA Education Survey 2014

In our continuing efforts to make LITA education offerings meet the needs and wishes of our membership, we ask that you, the LITA members, take a few minutes to fill out the linked survey. We are looking for information on education offerings you have participated in recently and would like to know what topics, methods and calendar times work best for you.

The more responses we get the better chances we have to create education offerings that provide excellent value to you the LITA membership. We appreciate you taking 10 minutes of your time to complete the LITA Education Survey 2014.

Thank you for your time and input.

LITA Education Committee

LITA Scholarships in Library and Information Science

CHICAGO — The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association, is pleased to announce that applications are being accepted for three Scholarships:

LITA/Christian Larew Memorial Scholarship (sponsored by Baker & Taylor)

LITA/LSSI Minority Scholarship (sponsored by Library Systems and Services, LLC)

LITA/OCLC Minority Scholarship (sponsored by Online Computer Library Center)

The scholarships are designed to encourage the entry of qualified persons into the library technology field.  The committees seek those who plan to follow a career in library and information technology, who demonstrate potential leadership, who hold a strong commitment to the use of automated systems in libraries and, for the minority scholarships, those who are qualified members of a principal minority group (American Indian or Alaskan native, Asian or Pacific Islander, African-American or Hispanic).

Candidates should illustrate their qualifications for the scholarships with a statement indicating the nature of their library experience, letters of reference and a personal statement of the applicant’s view of what he or she can bring to the profession, with particular emphasis on experiences that indicate potential for leadership and commitment to library automation.  Economic need is considered when all other criteria are equal.  Winners must have been accepted to an ALA recognized MLS Program.

You can apply for LITA scholarships through the single online application hosted by the ALA Scholarship Program. The ALA Scholarship Application Database will open Sept. 15.

References, transcripts and other documents must be postmarked no later than March 1, 2015 for consideration.  All materials should be submitted to American Library Association, Scholarship Clearinghouse, c/o Human Resource Development & Recruitment, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL  60611-2795.  If you have questions about a LITA Scholarships please email the LITA Office at vedmonds@ala.org.

The winners will be announced at the LITA President’s Program at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

LITA/Library Hi Tech Award Nominations Sought

Nominations are being accepted for the 2015 LITA/Library Hi Tech Award, which is given each year to an individual or institution for outstanding achievement in educating the profession about cutting edge technology through communication in continuing education within the field of library and information technology. Sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and Library Hi Tech, the award includes a citation of merit and a $1,000 stipend provided by Emerald Group Publishing Limited, publishers of Library Hi Tech. The deadline for nominations is December 1, 2014.

The award, given to either a living individual or an institution, may recognize a single seminal work or a body of work created during or continuing into the five years immediately preceding the award year. The body of work need not be limited to published texts, but can include course plans or actual courses and/or non-print publications such as visual media. Awards are intended to recognize living persons rather than to honor the deceased; therefore, awards are not made posthumously. More information and a list of previous winners can be found at http://www.ala.org/lita/awards/hitech in the Awards and Scholarships section.

Currently serving officers and elected officials of LITA, members of the LITA/Library Hi Tech Award Committee, and employees and their immediate family of Emerald Group Publishing are ineligible.

Nominations must include the name(s) of the recipient(s), basis for nomination, and references to the body of work.  Electronic submissions are preferred, but print submissions may also be sent to the LITA/Library Hi Tech Award Committee chair:

Holly Yu
University Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90032-4226.
hyu3@calstatela.edu

The award will be presented at the LITA President’s Program during the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco.

About Emerald

Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,350 books and book series volumes. It also provides an extensive range of value-added products, resources and services to support its customers’ needs. Emerald is a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive preservation. It also works in close collaboration with a number of organizations and associations worldwide.  www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com

About LITA

Established in 1966, LITA is the leading organization reaching out across types of libraries to provide education and services for a broad membership of almost 3,000 system librarians, library administrators, library schools, vendors and many others interested in leading edge technology and applications for librarians and information providers. For more information, visit www.lita.org , or contact the LITA office at 800-545-2433, ext. 4268; or e-mail: lita@ala.org.

For further information, contact Mary Taylor at LITA, 312-280-4267.

Nominations Sought for Prestigious Kilgour Research Award

Nominations are invited for the 2015 Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology, sponsored by OCLC, Inc. and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2014.

The Kilgour Research Award recognizes research relevant to the development of information technologies, in particular research showing promise of having a positive and substantive impact on any aspect of the publication, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information or how information and data are manipulated and managed. The Kilgour award consists of $2,000 cash, an award citation and an expense paid trip (airfare and two nights lodging) to the ALA Annual Conference.

Nominations will be accepted from any member of the American Library Association. Nominating letters must address how the research is relevant to libraries; is creative in its design or methodology; builds on existing research or enhances potential for future exploration; and/or solves an important current problem in the delivery of information resources. A curriculum vita and a copy of several seminal publications by the nominee must be included. Preference will be given to completed research over work in progress. More information and a list of previous winners can be found at

http://www.ala.org/lita/awards/kilgour

Currently-serving officers and elected officials of LITA, members of the Kilgour Award Committee and OCLC employees and their immediate family members are ineligible.

Send nominations by December 31, 2014, to the Award jury chair:

Tao Zhang
Purdue University Libraries
504 W State St
West Lafayette, IN 47907-4221
or zhan1022@purdue.edu

The Kilgour Research Award will be presented at the LITA President’s Program on June 29th during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

About OCLC

Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. More than 72,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. For more information, visit www.oclc.org.

About LITA

LITA is the leading organization reaching out across types of libraries to provide education and services for a broad membership including systems librarians, library administrators, library schools, vendors and many others interested in leading edge technology and applications for librarians and information providers. For more information, visit www.lita.org, or contact the LITA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4268; or e-mail: lita@ala.org

For further information, contact Mary Taylor at LITA, 312-280-4267.