Archive for June, 2009

In Search of Mash-Up Licensing

June 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Every so often I am fortunate enough to be invited to participate (as speaker or facilitator) in a conference or summit that is focused on rights and licensing within industries outside of the usual suspects of music and media. However, it is generally pretty much the same in terms of the key challenges with getting stakeholders to agree the best ways to tackle this most pressing issue. So what was so different about the recent OGC Summit at MIT in Boston?

For one thing it was pleasant surprise to discover a sincere effort, by the good people of the Open Geo Spatial Consortium (OGC), to open up the debate to outsiders like myself and such experts as DRM Guru, Bill Rosenblatt; XACML Evangelist, Hal Lockhart; and other key speakers from related communities like the Science Commons and W3C. This was done deliberately to inject external but relevant perspectives into their deliberations (I think it has to do with the “Open” in their title). In any case I found it an interesting day’s event, full of enthusiastic participation by delegates and speakers, with some key take-outs, from my point-of-view, that include:

  • GeoData Exploitation – GeoRM poses unique challenges to the established world of Intellectual Property, eCommerce, Usage and Control, mainly because Geographical Data is a specific type of factual data, which is not in itself liable to copyright protection. However, the packaging, presentation and application of the data (which extends to the exciting world of Location Based Services) is definitely worth protecting and exploiting, hence the efforts by the OGC to nail this area before it becomes fragmented and uncontrollable is too late
  • Mash-Up Licensing – The direction of progress, in all likelihood, points towards a definitive move away from static to dynamic content usage, and from paper-based to electronic rights management (as highlighted by Graham Vowles – chair of the GeoRM WG in his opening address). This indicates a forward look towards the potential to licence dynamic electronic applications and usage scenarios which are as yet undreamt hence the term “Mash-up licensing”.
  • Shades of control – after much debate over the impracticality of predicting future user intent or consumer behaviours, it quickly became clear that the issue of managing access to Geodata would require a gradient or shades of access and control that varies from consumers (i.e. lower controls) to more rigid forms for commercial enterprise / professional / government users. This neatly helps to focus efforts where the value lies (i.e. commercial usage), and to maximise the viral / social benefits derived from ordinary users (i.e. free advertising / capturing hearts & minds)

The second part of the day was devoted to finding the best ways forward / next steps towards establishing and developing a standardised model for encoding Geo rights models in a way that it will enable interoperability between the diverse licensing models used / required by different communities. The consensus was:

  1. to open up the debate via a forum that promotes greater dialogue between communities, and which will not just focus on technology but also the business requirements;
  2. To create a test bed for trying out these candidate models in a safe and trusted environment; and to create use cases for each domain in order to identify commonalities that would be used to make up the standard.
  3. Finally, to acknowledge that although a difficult undertaking, it is well worth it, even if it is “just for the common good” –a sentiment / motivation that the scientific community would certainly subscribe to!

So in all, it was a very useful exercise and one which when kicked off will possibly lead the way for other industries to emulate in resolving rights management issues from the front. If the only thing that results from this summit is the adoption of a bill of rights on geospatial data, (e.g. see O’Reilly’s post on Health Data Rights here) then it would be a job well done.


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.


Copyright, Digital Content, and the Internet

June 14, 2009 Leave a comment

The second World Copyright Summit, which took place last week, at the Ronald Reagan Conference Centre in Washington DC, was a well attended and successful event that drew great interest from all key stakeholders in the 21st Century’s fast-evolving, global creative economy.

Note: This post is taken from the executive summary of a report I have written about this event, which can also be found here:World Copyright Summit 2009 – Report.pdf
The main objective of the Copyright Summit was, as stated on the conference tag-line, to explore “New Frontiers for Creators in the Marketplace”, and this was achieved by providing a platform for the stakeholders (represented in both speakers and audience) to engage with each other in a series of dialogues, interviews, discussions, keynotes and general networking. One immediate outcome from this has been the wider recognition of a few key messages, which are outlined below as follows:
1. Time to Change Copyright
Right from the very first keynote, on day one, to several sessions on the second day, it became increasingly clear that most stakeholders are in agreement over the need for some far reaching changes to be made on the current copyright system before it can become more effective in protecting and incentivising creative works in a dynamic digital environment.
2. Need a Central, Unified and Authoritative Global Rights Registry
The above was identified in several of the sessions as a key enabler towards a more appropriate and effective rights management mechanism in a global digital context. The key issues are global / technology related, therefore the solution would appear to lie in taking a unified approach to implementing what some refer to as a global database for content rights
3. Accelerate the Shift towards New Business Models / Mindsets
The Google Books Settlement was repeatedly held up as a prime example of the art-of-the-possible in reaching a constructive and satisfactory outcome for all stakeholders. This model may be more difficult to accomplish in other media formats, but the fundamental requirements of an open, collaborative approach / mind-set by all stakeholders is mandatory for success. It is also becoming clear that content in digital / non-physical forms may be more appropriately positioned as a collaborative service, instead of the product-unit-centric worldview of the pre-digital content world.
In conclusion, and on the above terms, this summit can be deemed a success, and CISAC -the event organisers, deserve a hearty congratulation for their commitment in putting it all together. However, it might even be more of a success if and when the mid – longer term outcome of this Summit leads to some concrete changes in the world copyright system; and perhaps in the evolution of an authoritative / unified global rights registry; as well as the adoption of a more collaborative approach, in both business models and mindsets, by the content industries and all other stakeholders.
It is this author’s sincere hope, and recommendation, that the next version of this Summit will see the inclusion of more representatives from the developing world, as well as the much over-looked consumer / end-user stakeholder group, (which includes: ordinary citizens, students and the younger, next generation of users), that will ultimately deliver the verdict on any / all future initiatives on copyright..
Jude Umeh is a senior consultant and enterprise architect within Capgemini, and is something of a rights management evangelist. You can follow his Tweet-stream here




Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives. Also published at:

World Copyright Summit Kicks off

June 9, 2009 Leave a comment

The second World Copyright Summit kicked off successfully on Monday evening in Washington DC, and judging by the numbers of participants present and level of interest, it certainly looks like there’s something for everyone here. The main challenge would be how to marshal all the competing interests in copyright into something concrete for all stakeholders going forward.

First of all, the calibre of high profile keynote speakers, panel members, moderators and other attendees is mind boggling. Everyone from US Senators and political lobbyists, to legendary songwriters, international creative artistes and their collection societies appear to be well represented, and as one keynote speakers noted, the participants that are gathered together at this event should be enough to initiate and make lasting change to the global copyright landscape.

So far, on day one, there has been a surfeit of keynote speeches, panels, focus / breakout sessions that acknowledge the key problems of the game-changing nature of digital content production and distribution technologies and the resulting exponential deluge of data that needs to be processed by ill equipped traditional content businesses. This bottle neck, which has been compounded by the sluggish evolution of Intellectual Property mechanisms like copyright in a changing environment, is partly responsible (along with ever pervasive piracy) for the difficulties faced by content industries. This has found resonance in what may well become the Summit’s catchphrase of “Copyright Gridlock”, a term that was used by Michael Heller, (Author of Gridlock Economy), to describe the ill effects of having far too many owners for a common resource.

As a global summit designed to address the issues faced by content industries in a fast changing environment, I think the organisers, CISAC, have done an outstanding job in gathering the right group of people and organisations to debate and try to find the best way forward. It will be very interesting to what outcomes might emerge from this particular summit, but as it has still got one more day to go, I’ll reserve any judgement until the end.

PS. in keeping with my promise to cover this summit as much as possible, I will also be making shorter frequent posts on Twitter which can be found at:


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.