Rights Management and
treated in the same way as credit card transactions. Payments are made to Internet wallets,
and are collected in bulk at agreed intervals.The Internet wallet was a concept touted by
in the early days of eCommerce, but eventually discontinued as confidence in
online shopping grew.The resurrection of this concept owes much to the smaller amounts
involved in increasingly frequent transactions. Micropayment systems can be used as an
alternative to off-putting subscription charging methods, and may also act as a better
revenue-generating mechanism than online advertising.
Another micropayment framework is to charge users randomly, so that, for example,
user of a site pays a nominal fee. Payments should even out over time, with
frequent visitors paying more often and casual visitors likely to be able to browse with-
A micropayment agreement may be difficult to establish with individual users, and
micropayments are most useful when the agreement is between two organisations that
need to use each other's online content on a daily basis. An alternative is for a number of
sites to sign up with a central collections group such as Peppercoin,
who will facilitate
the collection of payments from users and their transfer to service or content providers.
Micropayments have not yet been widely adopted, and it is unlikely they will be until
standards have been established in this area.
A Unified Approach to Business
Online access is transforming the reach of heritage institutions. For instance, `The
NLC also provided an illustrative example of the tremendous potential for online digital
products.The NLC [National Library Canada] noted that it currently averages roughly
29,000 online download requests per month on its Virtual Gramophone Web site. In con-
trast, on-site users make only 300 requests per year for the same collection of sound
recordings, a usage difference of over 1000-fold.'
The large number of emerging tech-
nologies that appear to offer heritage institutions ways to represent, make accessible, and
generate income from their content is bewildering. At the outset it is essential to define
a strategic approach to content generation and exploitation. Technologies can then be
chosen to make that strategy a reality.
If heritage institutions are to find their place in the digital environment then they
need to move their content creation work from grant funding and other soft money to
revenue-funded lines, as Carrie Bickner of New York Public Library Visual Archives
noted at the April 2003 NINCH Symposium on "The Price of Digitisation".
statements echoed the findings of thirty-six interviews which the Humanities Advanced
Technology and Information Institute (HATII) conducted in 2000 and 2001 as part of its
research for The NINCH Guide to Good Practice in the Digital Representation & Management
of Cultural Heritage Materials (2002).These showed that few projects had planned for the
long-term sustainability of the resources they were creating in digital form.
203 For more on the obstacles to implementing micropayments, see Win Treese,"Putting it together:Where are
the micropayments?" in netWorker,Volume 7, Issue 3, September 2003
204 http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/pcce-ccop/reana/model-study.pdf, (2002), page 43
205 Report by Lorna Hughes at http://www.ninch.org/forum/price.report.html
206 See the reports of the interviews conducted by the staff at HATII on behalf of NINCH,
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