Rights management in cultural heritage institutions
Given the complexity of the issues involved with transactional licenses, many of the
cultural heritage institutions that have to deal with rights management have gone a different
path. Instead of handling single licenses for individual works, they have successfully nego-
tiated user agreements with content providers for certain kinds of usages. Users are then
paying subscription fees to pay for the service.Two examples of cultural heritage institutions
that work with a user agreement-subscription model for educational cultural resources are
AMICO and SCRAN.The difficulty is negotiating adequate user agreements that
sufficiently protect the rights of the content owners by laying out strict rules on how and
by whom the content can be used.Yet, to Don Waters, Programme Officer at Mellon
Foundation, USA, none of the technologies available today can replace the need for user
agreements to protect the rights holder's rights."The fundamental protection that has to be
provided is in user agreements and legal enforcement. A watermark is a tool, but not a
substitute for that kind of enforcement." (DigiCULT Interview, June 5, 2001)
Thus,Waters thinks the right way to go is setting up "protected environments" which
guarantee rights holders that their rights will be maintained:"In all our granting agreements
we set up that the Foundation will have the right to aggregate the material and distribute it
for educational purposes and that we will create a protected environment in the Internet so
that we can assure the owners of a property that it is only being used for educational
purposes. (...) The whole notion of a protective environment is one that has to be aimed at
particular sets of users for certain purposes.That environment may not be available for free,
although it may appear to be free to the end user." (DigiCULT Interview, June 5, 2001)
Browser: Electronic rights management further reading
Gervais, Daniel J. (1998): Electronic Rights Management and Digital Identifier Systems.
In: Journal of Electronic Publishing, University of Michigan Press.
Iannella, Renato (2001): Digital Rights Management (DRM) Architectures. In: D-Lib
Magazine, No. 6,Vol. 7, June 2001.
Erickson, John S. (2001): Information Objects and Rights Management, In: D-Lib
Magazine, No. 4,Vol. 7, April 2001.
Although the opinion that content on the Internet is free still prevails among users, it
will be clear that in the near future premium, high quality content will bear a charge.This
will also be true for high-quality cultural heritage content and services.To be able to charge
for content, however, a reliable and secure payment system needs to be in place that enables
users to pay content by the piece.
For payment systems to be reliable, the following criteria need to apply (Isaias, 1999):
security and integrity: the system must offer security measures to guarantee the
safety of transactions and to prevent that data is illegally modified,
robustness: the system must be reliable under any circumstances and guarantee that a
transaction has occurred,
economic viability: the transaction costs and the economic value of the "product"
transferred should be compatible,