«Principal Editor Professor Brian Fitzgerald Head of School of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia With the assistance of Jessica ...»
The ‘Free for Education’ protocol was developed as a response to the marketplace, and it was quite a radical change to everything else we were doing at that time. Everything else went through our system. This is one where you put the logo on a piece of work and there are series of conditions that apply to that, so it does not go through our system at all. Much like Creative Commons, you can go into a search engine and put in ‘Free for Education’ and see what is available. We had this developed through the Government Solicitor Office because people were wanting a lot more information and education about copyright and simplifying what copyright really means. They do not use the word ‘contextualisation’ in their daily work place generally or ‘enhancement’ or ‘compilation’, so we help people come to terms with working with particular material, what they are doing or want to do with that, and that helps them then find some way to get through the copyright maze.
We are refining that search engine because, like all search engines, it has its limitations. Part of this recent work is to play around with certain concepts.
What we are finding useful is on the website. The other thing that we are changing (this is fairly new and we will be putting out more information) is what we call our other free or sharing protocols – the ‘U’ for ‘Unrestricted’, the ‘P’ for ‘Preserve’ and the ‘S’ for ‘Standard’. They are all about sharing your content, usually with no money involved, and we intend to free them up and get them out there into the market place for much wider use. The licences that we broker for those people who do want to commercialise material are our ‘C’ and our ‘E’ – the ‘Customisable’ (or some people call it ‘Commercial’) and the ‘E’ for the ‘End User Licence’ and they are the ones that we are finding there is a lot more interest in because people do want, in many cases, to play around with conditions and play around with money.
What can you do? You can search; you can find; you can preview. We have various degrees of sophistication although some of it is not sophisticated.
This is not Amazon. It is very much an educational organisation or an Ebay, but some of the previews are getting a lot better and available for purchase. You can access our database and find a resource that will link you to the copyright owner through standard internet protocols. If you find something you like, you press a button and you have a licence. We have examples where that takes 2 minutes from beginning to end. At the other side where people want to talk a lot more it can take a longer period of time.
This is the schizophrenic part of the company where you think about charging for open content (it is probably heretical in this conference to say we should charge for licences). We have found in working, particularly, with vocational education but also with education generally, that if you wanted to open up IP, wanted to open up content for maximum use, sometimes you had to have money changing hands, otherwise it was not going to work. I was thinking yesterday when we heard about the Smart State in Queensland, it is quite difficult even to get a Queensland public education organisation to give any content to a New South Wales public education organisation because the Queensland public education organisation will think, ‘why should we use Queensland’s taxpayers’ money to subsidise New South Wales’? In fact, if you want to get sharing happening across even state borders, let alone between private and private, and public and private, if you do not have money changing hands it just will not happen as easily as we would like. One example is a 3-D animation of a body part, owned by a multi-media company in Sydney, and produced for the medical industry at great expense. The company licences this animation to education for a very small sum of money. Medical courses, science courses, all sorts of courses, would make very good use of them, but education could never probably afford to produce those resources. The fact that they can get them fairly cheaply is an advantage.
Why would anyone want to charge for open content? Because they think it is part of their business to do so. Why would anyone pay for open content?
Because you get it a lot cheaper than you would if you produced it yourself, so it is a win/ win situation. We believe that in the open content space there needs to be room for both share-ware, allowing things to be freely given, and as our Chair has said, also for charging for content to change hands.
We think both need to happen and we would like to do both for education.
In November 2004 we ran a conference on ‘Unlocking Intellectual Property’ where a lot of issues were made about the cost of transactions.
What we are trying to do by being a broker of open content is to make it easier for organisations to trade without too much cost to them and that is a typical way of brokers working the share industry and any other industry.
We have a system when we broker a licence. We also collect all the money and we reimburse people. We do all the accounting functions, all the GST functions and handle all Ebanking. If you own content and you want to charge for it but you do not want to charge too much, you only want to charge for example 10, 20 or a hundred dollars and you do it yourself, the cost of a transaction makes it counter-productive to even think about doing.
But if you work through a broker, you can have money changing hands in a reasonably efficient way. Whether that is sustainable long-term remains to be seen. At the moment that seems to be a reasonably efficient way for people to proceed. The way it works is basically: you cannot obviously use our system, our brokerage, without being an AEShareNet member, but you put your stuff up, someone requests a licence, you can negotiate the conditions of the licence, or you can just accept the conditions as they are, that negotiation happens online.
To give you an example, you might put a material up and say this resource is only available for use in Australia. Someone may come along and say ‘can I use it in New Zealand or India?’ and you can say yes or no.
Depending on if you have any embedded copyright restrictions in the resources, you can make that happen online through an online transaction.
At the end of the day, we collect the money and reimburse the owners. It is a typical brokerage offering, which we think is adding value in the education sector to allow people to move resources between institutions, between public and private and so on.
You can glimpse our changing resources and see the status of the licences, in terms of whether they are draft, under negotiation, payment pending, on our site. Notice that I deliberately use the words ‘sell site’ and ‘buy site’ to show that there is a lot of business activity there. A variety of organisations that put resources up such as TAFE South Australia, have both ‘licences in’ resources and ‘licences out’ resources and they think they are better off by doing that. They make money on some of the resources they have developed. They pay money out for resources they access from elsewhere, but a lot less than if they developed it themselves. That is the kind of basic philosophy of our open content for money approach.
There are just a couple of things I want to say about some of the challenges we face in making this work. Once we develop and review resources we work out where the copyright might lie if we have not cleared it first, and then work out what can be done. This is more of a cottage industry model.
You may finish up under that model with two teachers, two academics in the same institution at the same time working on producing learning resources and they may not have collaborated or know each other was doing it. If we are going to make maximum use of resources, without suggesting we go into a McDonald’s model where you get the same hamburger everywhere, there might need to be more organisational faculty decisions about what programmes are run, what resources are developed and to think about what resources exist that we can build on before we start developing them. Rather than always take material and build it from scratch and then licensing resources from outside, keep records of what you have done and then licence out products to others whether for free or for money. My contention is that even if you want to give stuff away, you cannot give it away if you do not know that you own it, so it is important to get those things right.
I suggest there is a lot more to open content licensing than just developing the templates. We need business models and transaction platforms.
Learning resources need to be accessible but they do not always need to be free, as we have been suggesting. The trick is to get the balance right for sharing and trading in what can be a competitive educational environment.
You might be bidding for the same funds, bidding for the same students, or in straight competition between public and private providers.
I want to mention the licence template ‘Free For Education’ that we put up for those people who would like to licence their products, content, systems, whatever, for educational use but not other people. This is an example of one that has gone live today. I got a phone call this morning about this. It is educational software produced by an organisation that mainly works in the finance industry – training and doing professional development for financial people – and this organisation is happy to licence this to educational organisations for nothing but they would not want to give it away to their competitors. They would not want to go as far as open source software on this but they are happy for educational organisations to use their software for free. That is a good example of where the ‘Free for Education’ fills a particular need for educational organisations in the open content space.
Note: this paper has been updated for December 2007 Let me start with a few words about Digital Rights Management (DRM).
As usual, it was mentioned in other talks in the negative, which is fair because DRM does have some negative aspects about it. But I want to give you a different view from the DRM world. Then I will look at the Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) Initiative. I will then look at the Creative Commons’ semantics in more detail, how we mapped them to ODRL and some of the issues that we found when we were doing the mapping exercises that we feel are quite significant and should be raised. Finally, briefly, I will look at the potential to do a similar thing for the AEShareNet licences.
Creative Commons licences are represented in three ways: there is the legal code, the human code and then there is the machine code. All three are very critical to the overall licences, but what I will be presenting here is more aimed at the machine code. I will ask: how have the licences been represented at the computer level and how can they best be represented?
DRM covers two main areas. There is the information about the rights - the rights information management - and that is about who the rights holders are, what the licences are, what the royalty payments are, etc. Then there are is the enforcement/security side, or the technical protection measures, including the trusted environments. This is usually that area that gets DRM bad press as it is squarely at the consumer end. The consumer sees the way the content is encrypted and the way that limits the end user experience or changes the way the end user has to interact with that content. A lot of current DRM systems really do just focus on the security side and do not care about rights information management.
There are positive examples of DRM working, such as Apple’s iTunes/iPod service. Most of the consumers who buy and download songs to their iPods have no idea that DRM is in there because it is well hidden, which it should be. And it still allows the consumer to do what they normally expect to do with their music, which is just play it an unlimited amount of times and also, in some cases, to make copies for a fixed number of times to different devices.
The technical view of DRM also needs to be balanced with the social, legal and business sides. The DRM value chain needs to support both of the two DRM areas as the rights management information normally has to travel from the beginning to the end of the value chain (ie from when content is created to when it is being used) and at the end, we need to have the rights information there. The enforcement is usually at the consumer end, so it is downstream, the last thing that happens. Usually, the content is encrypted or somehow encoded so that only a particular consumer or device can consume it.
The key here is in the rights management information metadata that is being captured in what is now called ‘Rights Expression Languages’ (REL), a new sub-discipline, if you like, of DRM. In terms of standards, there are basically two standard bodies that deal with DRM at the international level. There are others, but the main ones are the Open Mobile Alliance, which is the mobile sector, and then there is the MPEG-21 standard, which is the audio/video sector. In MPEG-21, Parts 4, 5 and 6 deal with DRM. There is at the moment up to fourteen parts, but those three deal with DRM. Since 2000, we have seen a bit of a standards “war”.
There was a battle between two rights languages, XrML and ODRL, and the two different standards bodies chose two different languages. There is a lot of politics behind that, which makes life interesting, but it basically came down to the typical “Microsoft versus The Rest of the World” battle;
Microsoft owning XrML and “The Rest of the World” not wanting that technology in their standards. To this date, the war is not over. In fact it is probably hotting up at the moment because there are also a lot of DRM patent claims being fought over in this area. This is going to make life very difficult for implementers of DRM systems and devices because it will make it uncertain as to what your liabilities are.
In early January 2005 the MPEG Licensing Authority issued a press release stating the terms and conditions for licensing the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM specifications. Interestingly, we have one standards group telling the other standards groups how much they are going to have to pay to implement their own DRM standard. It is fun and games in that area.