Copyright & Multimedia
Intellectual property rights in the multimedia
environment are going to be a major problem. Technologies are
changing, market practices are still evolving, the size of the
market is unknown and the relationship of multimedia markets
to traditional markets is undefined or ambiguous. To create the
perception of choice in multimedia requires much more material
than linear media. IBM invested millions of dollars in its Multimedia
Developers Program and committed millions more to establishing
It may be to the developer's advantage
to produce all program components rather than try to deal with
an evolving industry. Acquiring intellectual property is costly
and problematic. Sometimes the developer finds that the content
owners do not own the rights to the content they are licensing.
Multimedia developers want licensing to give them the ability
to buy and use existing intellectual property rather than create
it themselves. However, it is not clear what rights they will
need. Content owners are equally puzzled by which rights they
Today multimedia developers use primarily
stand alone storage-based publishing devices. When wideband transmission
is easily available publishing via wide area networks may be
commonplace. This is already the emerging model in higher education.
Per copy licensing does not work for network-based publishing.
Per-use licensing does not work well for storage-based publishing
even though it looks fair and it has worked well for the on-line
database industry. Usage-based pricing normally requires a networked
system with considerable technological and marketing overhead.
It discourages new users and the experimentation and exploration
that is needed to stimulate and build demand. Nobody likes to
hear a meter ticking. Education networks are increasingly ubiquitous
and there is a great resistance to metered information. The preferred
payment method is a fixed cost which can be budgeted.
"Transclusion" is one solution
- once you pay to access something in the system you have permanent
personal access to it. Transclusion attempts to make network
access more like buying a product.
In concurrent-use licensing, a flat fee
is charged based on the number of users who can access the service
at the same time.
Once standards are set and distribution
systems are in place, multimedia will become a preferred communications
vehicle for education. Authoring tools will allow multimedia
producers without computer science backgrounds to write programs.
Easy access by multimedia creators to libraries of program content
will be a key feature of Kaleida.
The Commerce Department has released recommendations
for rewriting copyright law to protect the creators of books,
recordings, movies and other forms of information in the digital
age. Existing copyright law does not make it clear that it is
a violation of the copyright owner's rights to distribute a protected
work over the Internet.
Without this, some copyright owners will
not use the Internet or the NII. Digital equipment which converts
text, pictures and sound into a series of zeroes and ones that
are read by a computer, can be used to easily reproduce works
ranging from sound recordings to database indexes, making copies
that are virtually identical to the original.
The changes in the draft copy of the recommendations
are fairly minimal, but would afford copyright owners a solid
legal basis to pursue violators through civil lawsuits. Although
it would be virtually impossible to stop individual bootleg copies
of material from being transmitted electronically, the goal is
to create a legal deterrent. The fair-use privilege contained
in an informal set of guidelines, now provides for the unauthorized
use of copyright material in cases involving comment and criticism,
news reporting and classroom teaching.
from "A Technical
Guide to Teleconferencing and Distance Learning," 3rd edition