Year

2005

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Information Technology and Computer Science - Faculty of Informatics

Abstract

Copyright law has been created to satisfy a variety of objectives including promoting knowledge in communities and encouraging authors and content producers to create more content. Originally, copyright measurements were proposed as means of controlling access to content. Over time, they have been defined as the degree of control authors or distributors can exercise over their works. Technologists and smart-device manufacturers identified such new rights management market, and invented new encryption algorithms and devices with the belief that technical solutions alone could provide full content protection. A clear differentiation must be drawn between the actual and expected results of rights management technologies. These technologies may reduce unauthorized content access, but cannot fully protect content. This is because security devices may be circumvented and security solutions may be attacked through their weakest point.

Further research about copyright management revealed that this is not a new concept. Copyright issues and infringements have already been in existence in different shapes and forms since the pre-digital age. The growth in Internet use led to the definition of a new form of rights management known as Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM is defined as the management of intellectual property exchanged in digital form. DRM, after more than twenty years since information digitization started, is still considered by most businesses as complex, expensive, and hard to adopt. Most content anagement businesses perceive DRM automation as an unnecessary step since it may increase complexities and costs in communications with other peers, suppliers, or customers. DRM is complex for a variety of reasons and one of the major contributors to the complexity is the lack of standardization among various DRM products available on the market today.

Given such DRM complexity, this dissertation has been developed to include objectives that address two main aspects of DRM: First, providing a comprehensive, yet simple, definition of DRM. This has been achieved through the definition of a DRM framework called the Holistic Rights Framework (HRF), which covers social, legal, and echnological facets of DRM and their relationships. HRF is intended to provide a useful model that can be used as a reference by anyone interested in or impacted by copyright legislation. The HRF may provide additional benefits for technologists through better understanding of legal and social factors and implications related to DRM, thus resulting in better-designed products with the possibility of higher consumption or usage.

Second, this dissertation addresses one example of the HRF technical facet: the integration of Rights Expression Language (REL) and Content Packaging. This section describes how an extension to a REL (i.e. XrML) and Content Packaging (i.e. IMS Content Packaging) has been achieved. The result is a set of methods or APIs that can be invoked as a web service to manage rights across containment objects. Those APIs may also be invoked by rendering application-toquery rights before rendering content. Such rights management and control over the smallest sub-object in each containment object preserve authors’ rights and encourage them to produce more. This concept contributes to digital objects’ re-use and helps in preserving owners’ rights over their creation when they are exchanged or organized as part of a containment object. It also helps consumers by giving them the choice to access only the information they want rather than accessing the whole containment object, thus costing less. In addition, it is complemented with a few examples illustrating its applicability and usage in real life. Those examples cover how a user or an object may automatically query or set rights across a containment object using the developed API. A proof of this concept has been achieved through the development and delivery of a set of APIs and demonstrators capable of invoking various DRM-related methods on a containment object.

The contribution to knowledge by this research is summarized in two main areas: 1) conceptual; through the new definition of a DRM framework with the intention to increase awareness among various DRM stakeholders towards DRM facets; and 2) technical; through integrating REL and Content Packaging that preserves content producers’ rights and encourages them to produce more.

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