Intellectual Property and Digital Rights - Overview

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Institutions, distance education providers and the educational materials publishing industry are, all, grappling with ownership issues.

There is a need to identify different types of policies for intellectual property, digital rights and licensing issues, to identify best practices and assist different entities (organizations/institutions) to develop policies that are equitable for all the parts involved (entities, authors and users). Particularly this is an actual problem for colleges and universities that are major stakeholders (faculty ownership and authorship) and for the distance education (licensing issues). In addition, it is necessary to work together with the educational content publishers to define and use the same copyright standards.

Intellectual Property and Digital Rights specifications are concerned with the syntax and grammar needed to specify Rights expressions on how a digital content may be distributed or used.
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These contents have been obtained from the CEN/ISSS WS-LT Web site and edited for presentation. Please refer to the CEN/ISSS WS-LT for additional information on terms of use.
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CEN Workshop on Learning Technologies
The CEN Workshop on 'Learning Technologies' has issued the report "Educational Copyright Licence Conditions". The report takes the widest possible interpretation of education to cover both formal and informal learning, institutional and individual activities. The creation and use of electronic educational materials, either by an individual creator or user or by institutional producers and students, will result either in the creation of work protected by copyright or in the use of work protected by copyright. In fact, the most likely scenario is that it will result in both the creation and use of copyright. Educational creators and users are involved in creating and protecting and licensing their materials and also in using the works of others under licence.

The development of standards for educational digital rights management is both too important for WS-LT to ignore and too complex for it to solve alone. The most effective approach for WS-LT is to keep abreast of developments worldwide and to make an input to those groups identified in the report as making substantial contributions to the development of robust Digital Rights Models in both the commercial rights industries and educational transactional models.
Purpose
The report "Educational Copyright Licence Conditions" involves the following subjects:
  • To collate and organise an overview of European and other (e.g. North American, Australian) use cases and current practice regarding educational copyright licensing conditions and associated business processes obtained from major suppliers and users and other actors.
  • To determine through surveys and consultation with relevant experts how use cases, best practice and associated business processes may change to take account of relevant technical developments.
  • To establish what provision exists or is envisaged, either technically or in terms of business processes, to extend current copyright licensing schemes and best practice to handle new media and new uses.
  • To examine the relevance of open source licensing models for the educational community.
  • To examine the degree to which European educational licence conditions might be harmonised.
  • To recommend how WS-LT may monitor and/or participate in the development of standardised educational licensing practice.
CEN WS-LT Web Site
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These contents have been obtained from the Creative Commons site and edited for presentation. Please refer to the Creative Commons site for additional information on terms of use.
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Creative Commons Logo
Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.

They provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.
History
Creative Commons was founded in 2001 with the support of the Center for the Public Domain. CC is led by a Board of Directors that includes cyberlaw and intellectual property experts Michael Carroll, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, and Lawrence Lessig, MIT computer science professor Hal Abelson, lawyer-turned-documentary filmmaker-turned-cyberlaw expert Eric Saltzman, renowned documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, noted Japanese entrepreneur Joi Ito, and educator and journalist Esther Wojcicki.

In December 2002, Creative Commons released its first set of copyright licenses for free to the public. Creative Commons developed its licenses — inspired in part by the Free Software Foundation’s GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) — alongside a Web application platform to help you license your works freely for certain uses, on certain conditions; or dedicate your works to the public domain.

In the years following the initial release, Creative Commons and its licenses have grown at an exponential rate around the world. The licenses have been further improved, and ported to over 50 international jurisdictions.
ccLearn
ccLearn is a division of Creative Commons, launched in 2007 and led by Ahrash Bissell, dedicated to realizing the full potential of the internet to support open learning and open educational resources. With a mission to minimize legal, technical, and social barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials, ccLearn is developing brand new tools to integrate Creative Commons into open education.

The goals of ccLearn are the following ones:
  • Minimize legal, technical, and social barriers to the creation and reuse of Open Educational Resources (OER).
  • Bring new communities and groups into the world of open learning.
  • Change the culture of education so that teachers have greater control over their pedagogy, greater freedom to experiment, and a larger community for support.
  • Empower participation and expertise in education from around the world.
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These contents have been obtained from the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) official Web site and edited for presentation. Please refer to the LTSC official Web site for additional information on terms of use.
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IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee
A Rights Expression Language (REL) provides the syntax and grammar needed to specify rights expressions on how digital content may be distributed or used. These rights expressions can be very simple such as "this digital content may be viewed/played at anytime by anyone" or very complex such as "digital content 34567 may be viewed from 15-Jan-2004 until 15-Jun-2004 only by current university students."
Purpose
This project should produce a recommended practice or guide identifying Digital Rights (DR) requirements for eLearning technologies. These requirements should be aligned with the most widely known standards-based specifications for DREL that are being adopted or developed by international, regional, national and private organizations and consortia.

The recommended practice or guide should determine what, if any, extensions are needed so that these DREL can meet the identified requirements.
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This category includes a number of specifications and recommendations related to the Intellectual Property and Digital Rights area which either are not targeted specifically to the learning technologies field either have been developed by institutions not specifically focused to defining standards.
Open Digital Rights Language
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World Wide Web Consortium
The Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) is a language proposed by the W3C for the Digital Rights Management (DRM) community for the standardisation of expressing rights information over content. The ODRL is intended to provide flexible and interoperable mechanisms to support transparent and innovative use of digital resources in publishing, distributing and consuming of electronic publications, digital images, audio and movies, learning objects, computer software and other creations in digital form. The ODRL has no license requirements and is available in the spirit of "open source" software.

DRM involves the description, layering, analysis, valuation, trading and monitoring of the rights over an enterprise's tangible and intangible assets. DRM covers the digital management of rights - be they rights in a physical manifestation of a work (eg a book), or be they rights in a digital manifestation of a work (eg an ebook). Current methods of managing, trading and protecting such assets are inefficient, proprietary, or else often require the information to be wrapped or embedded in a physical format.

A key feature of digitally managing rights will be the substantial increase in re-use of digital material on the Internet as well as the increased efficiency for physical material. The pervasive Internet is changing the nature of distribution of digital media from a passive one way flow (from Publisher to the End User) to a much more interactive cycle where creations are re-used, combined and extended ad infinitum. At all stages, the rights need to be managed and honoured with trusted services.

Current DRM technologies include languages for describing the terms and conditions, tracking asset usages by enforcing controlled environments or encoded asset manifestations, and closed architectures for the overall management of rights.

The ODRL provides the semantics for DRM expressions in open and trusted environments whilst being agnostic to mechanisms to achieve the secure architectures.
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ISO MPEG-21 Rights Expression Language
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ISO/IEC 21000-5:2004, Information technology - Multimedia framework (MPEG 21) - Part 5: Rights Expression Language, is an XML-based language for expressing rights related to the use and distribution of digital content as well as access to services. In addition to helping content owners provide information about the rights, terms, and conditions associated with each multimedia resource.

This standard:
  • Supports a wide variety of business models in the digital content distribution value-chain independent of content type or industry;
  • Provides an extremely flexible authorization model to describe what the consumer or user is permitted to do with the content;
  • Is independent of formats, products, security technology or other digital rights management (DRM) system components;
  • Enables automated multi-tier distribution of digital content while protecting the rights of the content owners and the interests of the users;
  • Is a precise, unambiguous, machine-readable language that can be used in conjunction with other industry standards, including those addressing Web services;
  • Is ready for immediate implementation to support digital content sales or the distribution of enterprise information.


An application of REL in the e-learning context can be found here
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