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IP, managing digital rights and content - RTD problems and opportunities - El.pub Analytic No. 10

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The uncertain legal situation of IP
Expanding digital content - growing IP problems
Content ownership versus content consumption
DRM development
Are current fears realistic?
Researching the market not the technology
Content management
CMS and knowledge management
CMS users and personalisation
Requirements for managing knowledge
Directions for CMS RTD
References and further recent information
Comment on this issue of Analytic

Content management

The discussion about IPR and DRM is to a large extent focussed on a relatively small part of the total information available digitally. It is relevant only to information that is traded in a market. That information is, of course, of great interest to publishers and others dependent on a healthy market, for their profits. It completely ignores the much larger amounts of information that are held privately:

• internal business information of companies and other organisations,
• public information held by governments,
private information in the form of family photographs and videos,
information in the public domain either because it is no longer in copyright, is excluded from copyright (eg. mathematical algorithms and cookery recipes) or because the creators have decided to make it available freely. (It might be noted that although cookery recipes are not copyright, cookery books are very profitable).

The creators and manipulators of all types of information are just as interested in availing themselves of the advantages brought by digitisation as are commercial publishers. Once content is in a digital format it needs some level of content management. The owners of digital cameras that are used for family photos are just as keen to make them available to family members (and others) on well organised CDs, as are photo stock houses. People with hobbies that involve collecting and re-organising data on sports or the arts have the same right to do that in a digital environment as university science departments or broadcast news services.

The point of this digression is to note that the requirements of users will be different depending on their goals. Content management systems (CMS) do not come as a one-size-fits-all solution. Indeed, one would expect there to be a considerable range of product markets meeting different needs; as there are. CMS for major broadcasters will be very different from those for organisations running an intranet of internal information. Cheap CMS for home movie buffs are quite different to those, custom built for major film studios. CMS for running media empires like Bertelsmann have little in common with those for hospitals or government departments.

CMS and knowledge management

CMS are one component of knowledge management systems. Content has no existence outside some other objective. Even art is generally recognised to need some goal other than the self-gratification of the artist. (Perhaps this might be difficult to show in the case of some home movies).

Starting from the knowledge management premise one can see that RTD for CMS needs to identify differences and commonalities in the goals of the users, in order to determine problems that need solution or innovations that would be marketable. The current interest in seeing knowledge management as the next step in an evolutionary improvement in the use of IT in society gives a particular focus that differs in some ways from the previous step of process re-engineering and enterprise-wide management systems.

At the Barcelona meeting Roberto Minio of KnowledgeView gave a picture of how content management projects have developed over past European Union RTD Programmes [1] and where we are now. He went on to suggest where the focus might move to and the growing interest in content management for communication. The message is close to the idea of content management for knowledge sharing and e-learning.

CMS users and personalisation

So far content management has concentrated on the needs of content distributors, supporting the storage and collation of content created by traditional players (writers, journalists, photographers, film makers, animators, musicians) albeit in digital form, and the subsequent workflow and generation of packaged objects such as books, magazines, records, multimedia CDs, TV programming, web pages.

Experience soon showed that creating digital packages was more difficult than paper and records, as the density of material required sophisticated digital navigation aids to enable the user to find what he wanted in the package. The Web turned this problem on its head as the sheer volume and multiplicity of sources meant navigation had to come either from third parties or by some sort of search tool in the hand of the user.

The producer solution was personalisation in the form of "we will create a profile of what you want' and 'we will push you our content". The user response was "you aren't sending me what I want" and "leave me alone".

We are actually arriving at a better balance now with the producer offering labelled blocks of information that are small enough to be immediately recognisable and useful. Examples are from newspapers like the Financial Times and New York Times where the user can subscribe to a daily e-mail of headlines covering areas like "science" or "media", that link to the content web site. Such a system doesn't help with specific requests to highly focussed questions.

The user solution is the advanced search engine that enables complex queries to be asked, with filters that help remove irrelevant links, and provides a good relevance ranking. This solution works up to a point, particularly if the user has extensive experience with the system and good vocabulary knowledge of the area of interest.

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