Digital Asset Management

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  • 1. Managing Digital Assets Richard Poynder Freelance Journalist www.richardpoynder.com
  • 2. Four points
    • There are two (frequently confused) terms associated with managing digital assets: Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Digital Rights Management (DRM). These tend to be treated as two distinct technologies, and two separate issues. A better approach might be to view them as complementary building blocks for effectively managing digital assets in a networked world
    • Superficially DAM may appear more of an issue for librarians, and DRM for content providers. This would be an erroneous assumption!
    • The development of DAM and DRM reflects the continuing impact of web technologies on content distribution, and has significant implications both for librarians and for content providers
    • There is much still to do!
  • 3. DAM
    • Digital Asset Management (DAM): grew out of corporate creative departments/advertising agencies in late 1980s
    • “ A set of coordinated technologies and processes that allow the quick and efficient storage, retrieval and re-use of digital files … [including] .. All types of text, video, audio, and image files,” Chris Schaefer, senior product marketing manager, Artesia Technologies
    • i.e. multimedia content, which is becoming an increasing issue for many libraries
    • A variety of off-the-shelf solutions are now available
    • DAM tends to be viewed as mainly an issue for librarians/ information professionals i.e. content management
  • 4. DRM
    • Digital rights management (DRM). Came to prominence in late 1998, with the formation of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI)
    • SDMI's charter: “to develop open technology specifications that protect the playing, storing, and distributing of digital music such that a new market for digital music may emerge.”
    • DRM solutions also being developed for text, video, software etc. etc.
    • There are two parts to DRM: (1) a description of the rights associated with the content (meta data describing e.g. “usage rules”), and (2) technical enforcement of those rights/rules (encryption, software keys, watermarking etc.)
    • DRM tends to be viewed as mainly an issue for content providers i.e. intellectual property management
  • 5. Question: what is the relationship?
    • Content
    • DAM (content management)
    • DRM (rights management)
    • But what’s the relationship?
    DAM DRM Content
  • 6. The need for DAM in libraries
    • University of Oxford Study in 1998 (" Digitizing Intellectual Property : the Oxford Scoping Study “, Stuart Lee, Ariadne Issue 22, Dec 1999 )
    • The University had attracted £2.2m for digitisation during the 1990s
    • The study concluded that: “Accurate cataloguing of collections was often notable by its absence, especially to the level of the individual item.”
    • A need for new management tools
    • Text => multimedia => digital content per se
  • 7. Institutions using DAM systems
    • Stanford University Libraries: using Artesia’s TEAMS technology to manage and deliver multimedia content to classrooms
    • California Academy of Sciences: using Canto Software’s Cumulus system to provide multimedia resources over its intranet
    • San Francisco’s Exploratorium Museum: using TEAMS to manage the 100,000 analogue resources it is currently digitising
    • Question: who is responsible for managing the process? Librarians? Techies? Vendors (e.g. NETg as supplier of 85,000 “learning objects”)?
  • 8. The DAM process
    • Information audit
    • Establish the meta data
    • Decide on formats
    • Prioritise the input queue
    • The ‘ingestion’ phase
    • Ongoing process/procedures to integrate new content
  • 9. OPAC versus DAM system
    • OPACs remain primarily text-oriented bibliographic tools
    • “ Since … [documents indexed in an OPAC] ... are increasingly created in some other place, what they really want is to be able to describe them, or classify them, and then link to them. That is the most common model,” Susan Stearns, VP Marketing, Inmagic
    • Will this remain the most common model for libraries in the future?
  • 10. OPAC versus DAM system
    • DAM systems are generally more limited in terms of indexing
    • Convergence? “Many institutions needing DAMs do not need OPACs; and while I can envision OPACs integrating some aspects of DAMs — because libraries will own digital objects — I can’t see the opposite occurring. Until every piece of information in the world is digital, they will probably remain separate,” Rosemarie Falanga, senior information specialist, Exploratorium
    • Question: are libraries migrating from holding collections, to pointing to them (e.g. electronic journals); or increasingly holding them in different formats (e.g. via digitising); Or both?
    • Indexing => Hosting/Holding=> Managing => Whose responsibility?
  • 11. Add a spoonful of DRM
    • DRM is a controversial issue for librarians
    • “ DRM changes the fundamental relationship between the creators, publishers, and users, to the detriment of creators, users, and the institutions that serve them. DRM, if not carefully balanced, limits the ability of libraries and schools to serve the information needs of their users and their communities in several ways,” ALA ( www.ala.org/washoff/DRM.pdf )
    • Fair dealing; first sale doctrine; pay-per-use; enforced time limits; lack of anonymity
    • Nevertheless, however the rules are hammered out, DRM is fast becoming a fact of life
  • 12. What does this mean for librarians?
    • Until now DRM has been perceived primarily as a vendor issue
    • But like it or not managing DRM looks set to become a core aspect of the librarian’s job
    • Consider, for instance, librarians as intermediaries and managers of third-party electronic content
    • “ The only people who own all the rights in a piece of content are the original creators, so everybody in the chain from that point onwards only uses rights and then passes them on down the chain,” Mark Bide, Senior Consultant, Rightscom, Digital Content Strategy Consultants
  • 13. What does this mean for librarians?
    • Librarians as publishers : Exploratorium’s aim is to use the web to create a “Library without walls”, but does not use DRM
    • What about the copyright issues? “While we are planning, on a limited basis, to include third-party assets as part of the project, the third-party would have to be someone who agreed with our mission and priorities,” Falanga
    • “ What is unclear is what is necessary for libraries to do to adequately protect themselves from infringing other’s rights. Libraries need to define their legal basis. After all, that a library’s patrons are restricted to those who can get in their doors does seem archaic,” Trudy Levy, founder of Image Integration, Digital Imaging Consultants
    • Eprint archives
    • Question: how can libraries ignore DRM?
  • 14. What does this mean for librarians?
    • The changing technological environment is also opening up new opportunities for librarians
    • Librarians as institutional content managers : “Instead of just buying in externally produced information resources and managing those, we should be at the heart of managing our own institution's information resources as well,” Stephen Pinfield, academic services librarian, University of Nottingham
    • “ My guess is that within most organisations there is no clear responsibility for managing all this digital information. So expect a wake up call similar to the Texaco case. Then organisations will start to take it seriously,” Stearns
    • Do you know exactly what information is flowing through your enterprise? Do you know its provenance, and what rights go with it? Does anyone in the organisation know, or manage the flow?
  • 15. The future for content management/distribution
    • The technologist’s dream: Each item of content will be born with ownership and usage rights
    • These rights will be expressed by means of a self-proclaiming digital ID strapped to the content’s metaphorical forehead, and in many cases the content will be locked with a digital padlock
    • Much of this content will then be released on to the web, where it will be bought/sold/exchanged by means of real-time negotiation of rights, along with any payment, eventually by means of agents/bots
    • The content will be viewable in any standard viewer (where today’s DRM requires a proprietary viewer), offering increased flexibility
    • So what needs to be done?
  • 16. What needs to be done?
    • A need to better integrate DAM and DRM?
    • How today does content management interface with copyright management?
    • DAM systems can describe rights (and can include watermarking), but they cannot enforce them (DRM 1 , but not DRM 2 )
    • “ We allow companies to incorporate … [rights related information] … but when it comes to utilising that information for protection purposes we leave it to DRM companies,” Schaefer
  • 17. Which works better? This? Or this? DRM DAM Content
  • 18. What needs to be done?
    • A universal DRM language: “Unless we have got a way of expressing … [usage] .. rights and permissions in a machine readable form nobody can hope to effectively manage digital assets,” Bide
    • A standard viewer
    • But currently a lack of DRM standards
    • XRML, MPEG-21, 2003; But who is driving it? (Microsoft?)
    • XrML “is a standard chasing an application, it is already way too complex, even in its limited context,” Martin Lambert, CTO, Sealed Media
    • “ The SDMI Forum is on hiatus as of June 2001, and is not accepting new members.”
  • 19. What it means for vendors?
    • The licensing/subscription model is too limiting for a networked world. (IP access as a primitive form of DRM)
    • Pay-per-use content currently available is hard to access, and too expensive
    • “ Our clients continually point out to us that there is an inherent contradiction in our offering a modular object technology that cries out for pay-per-use, but we still treat it as a library when selling it,” Jim L’Allier, chief learning officer for NETg
    • “ We’ve got some ideas as to future business models, but if you disconnect the current business model, how do you phase in a new business model that honours your object technology,” L’Allier
    • Making the transition requires “wing walking”
  • 20. What it means for vendors?
    • The ongoing migration from free to paid-for content threatens a return to self-contained data silos (pre-Dialog?)
    • Today's DRM: “Our content sealing technology in effect makes intangible goods behave like tangible goods i.e. they can only be used in one place at one time,” Lambert
    • What, then, was the point of the web, network externalities, and the hyperlink?
    • CrossRef, DOI, SFX, OpenURL only go half way; they still generally assume a licensing/subscription model
    • Need for new, standards-based, solutions — to “free the content”, but securely
    • Need for proliferation and acceptance of digital cash technologies
  • 21. A cautionary tale
    • The Music Industry : “Sales of singles and albums will fall by more than 7% this year, to just over $31 billion – the third fall in a row”, Informa Media, November 2002
    • Piracy cost music industry $4.3 billion last year ( The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry )
    • Wing-walk before it’s too late?
    • “ Information wants to be Free”(ly) available
    • DAM principles are a real and pressing issue for vendors
  • 22. Four points
    • There are two (frequently confused) terms associated with managing digital assets: Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Digital Rights Management (DRM). These tend to be treated as two distinct technologies, and two separate issues. A better approach might be to view them as complementary building blocks for effectively managing digital assets in a networked world
    • Superficially DAM may appear more of an issue for librarians, and DRM for content providers. This would be an erroneous assumption!
    • The development of DAM and DRM reflects the continuing impact of web technologies on content distribution, and has significant implications both for librarians and for content providers
    • There is much still to do!
  • 23. Break open the data silos!
    • Content has nothing to lose but its chains. It has a world to win.
    • Information of the World Disunite!