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Rights Management and
Payment Technologies
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remain competitive in comparison with commercial picture libraries and other comparable
content providers.The sector should aim to become the natural source of high-quality
cultural content, the first place users think of when they want their image, expertise and
other content needs met professionally.This can only happen if potential users can iden-
tify possible material easily, negotiate the rights to use it efficiently, and have it delivered
to them in a timely manner.
The case studies featured in this section describe in detail the issues involved in think-
ing about the distribution of content (e.g. EMII-DCF), as well as the need to simplify
and streamline the various rights management processes in practice, making them as
user-friendly and intuitive as possible (e.g. AMICITIA).The scenarios suggest other
mechanisms to support online sales and digital rights management.This section ­ more
than any other in this Technology Watch Report ­ covers a broad and eclectic range of
technologies, standards and approaches. It raises a number of critical questions that insti-
tutions could usefully consider before embarking on creating an online shop-window.
I n t ro d u c t i o n
The Ever-changing Field of Play
Rapid developments in the fields of telecommunications and commerce have con-
tributed to the growth of the intellectual property market during the past decade.The
increased use of digital storage, networks, productivity applications, and online payment
systems has made intellectual asset management more efficient and responsive to customer
needs. This market has undergone two significant periods of development in the past
fifteen years.The first phase, characterised by naïveté and a natural unfamiliarity with the
risks to rights posed by the online environment and a poverty of imagination of the
commercial opportunities it created, ran from the early 1990s until around the end of 1997.
To begin with, the transfer of digital objects was regulated, when it was, by mechanisms
and processes that had been effective in the traditional print publication or record indus-
tries.There was initially no control over the storage, transfer, manipulation, and duplication
of information.This led to widespread and, seemingly, uncontrollable copyright infringe-
ments.The most widely known of these was the case of Napster, the file-sharing service
that allowed users to swap near CD-quality MP3 versions of their favourite songs.
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Copyright and intellectual property rights infringement became common practice, and ­
with good cause ­ record companies began to worry about their future revenue streams.
They moved to put an end to the practice. In the cultural heritage sector, images and text
were increasingly made freely available, and much copyrighted material was put online in a
downloadable format, often by individuals who did not own the rights in either the original
material or digital representations of it. Clearly this was an unsuitable state of affairs for
the owners of intellectual property who wished to safeguard its financial potential.
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179 http://www.napster.com/. Users are no longer able to swap files so freely without fear of reprisal. See the
section on Collaborative Mechanisms and Technologies, below, for more on the rise, fall and current controversies
of popular file-sharing systems such as Napster and Kazaa.
180 For a more in-depth analysis of the issues raised by online music piracy, see Kostas Kasaras,"Music in the Age
of Free Distribution: MP3 and Society" in First Monday, vol. 7, no.1, January 2002:
http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue7_1/kasaras/index.html
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