A two-year project jointly funded by the European Union1 and media industry partners to enable and encourage greater legitimate use of all types of digital content is launched this week.
The Rights Data Integration (RDI) project will implement work done by the Linked Content Coalition (LCC)2 that published an innovative technical framework earlier this year to help content owners and users to manage and trade rights for all types of usage of all types of content and copyrighted works in all types of media.
RDI will bring the content industry a big step closer to meeting the challenge of how to assert ownership of content and communicate copyright terms and conditions in the digital environment in a way that both machines and people can understand.
There is a huge and rapidly expanding amount of digital content available through the internet, but this is making it increasingly difficult for many companies or individuals who want to trade in rights to find each other.
RDI Project Coordinator Andrew Farrow said: “We have to make it easier for everyone to discover who owns the rights to content and reduce barriers to entry, reduce cost in the supply chain, increase volume of use and encourage innovation”.
These are the challenges being addressed by the “Copyright Hub” strategy being developed in the UK and now under consideration elsewhere in Europe and the US, for which RDI is an early pilot.
Even the simplest rights transactions can be too people-heavy, expensive and inefficient; new business opportunities are deferred because of the cost of obtaining rights, particularly when different content types are involved; registries and exchanges exist in content silos and are unable to communicate effectively or automatically; RDI will show ways in which these issues can be addressed.
RDI relates directly to the overall objectives of the European Digital Agenda and will provide solutions to the Commission Communication on the Digital Single Market that tackles the unfulfilled potential of a digital single market.
Robert Madelin, Director General, DG Connect, European Commission, said: “We have called for stakeholders to develop automated and integrated standards-based rights management infrastructures and we are very excited to see what RDI can achieve.”
RDI will run for 27 months. While the project is a “prototype” and will not be permanent in its current form, it is strongly commercial in its focus and it is expected that a number of permanent tools and business relationships will be among its results.
RDI will use a “hub and spoke” architecture to allow rights users to discover and access information from rightsholders via a central transformation hub.
The content being used in RDI will come from a wide range of different media sectors (text publishing, musical works, sound recordings, news, still images and audiovisual). Some of the information being exchanged will come from the original creators of content, some from managers of the rights to that content, and some from organisations providing services to rightsholders. Collectively we refer to these organisations or individuals as “sources”.
Information about creations will be provided by sources to the hub using both open standards (e.g. ONIX, RightsML, PLUS) and proprietary standards. Although RDI is backed by many who hope to see greater legitimate commercial use of copyright works, it supports any business model, including “free use” where agreed by rightsholders, use of works in the public domain. Some Creative Commons licenses and “orphan work” declarations will be included in the pilot to show this. It also supports permissions that cover rights other than copyright (for example, “neighbouring rights” or the use and management of unique artifacts).
The hub will transform the data into a common format using a data structure based on the LCC Framework and then into a format accepted by exchanges providing the interface for rights users. The hub and spoke architecture is a convenient structure to prove the interoperability of different data formats but other approaches might be more appropriate in different operational environments. Some data flows will also be demonstrated direct from rightsholders to exchanges to show this.
RDI does not directly affect the content of rights laws and agreements – it only makes it possible to process the results of those agreements in more highly-automatable ways. Nor is RDI advocating a one size fits all approach. Complex, “professional” rights transactions should be conducted in whatever manner best suits them, but lower value/higher volume transactions should be automated as much as possible.
The following organizations are participating in RDI.
age fotostock Spain SL*, Album Archivo Fotografico S.L.*, Axel Springer SE, Capture Ltd/British Library, Consolidated Independent Ltd*, EDISER S.R.L*, Elsevier, Getty Images*, the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO)*, International Press Communications Council (IPTC), Pearson PLC, Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), PLUS Coalition, Producentforeningen – Danish Producers Association*
Consorzio Interuniversitario per il Calcolo Automatico dell’Italia Nord Orientale (CINECA)*
Center of the Picture Industry (CEPIC)*
Europe Analytica Ltd (representing European Publishers Council)*
European Writers Council (EWC)*
This news release reflects the views of RDI and the European Commissionis not liable for any use that might be made of information contained therein.
* members of the RDI Consortium receiving part-funding from the European Union
1 Partly funded by European Union’s ICT Policy Support Programme as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme
2 The Linked Content Coalition (LCC) was a cross-media, multinational coalition of more than 40 partners from the media and creative industries, including representatives of authors and artists, working together between March 2012 and April 2013 to establish the technical framework required to facilitate automated communications between rightsholders and those who wish to use content. The LCC is now being established as a permanent consortium of content sector standards bodies to be a forum within which interoperable standards work can be carried forward.