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Image COMPAS ( Copyright Management and Multimedia Rights Clearance Best                               Practices for Educational Multimedia )

COMPAS facilitates the development of common approaches to copyright problems related to the management and exchange of educational and training multimedia products, which are financed by public or joint public-private funding. The resource is helping public institutions, scientific organisations and production companies and has attracted considerable praise from the UKs Learning and Skills Development Agency.

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What is COMPAS?

COMPAS is a multi-lingual web-based information service for multimedia service companies, production agencies, training organisations, publishers and rights holders. It is designed specifically to handle copyright issues encountered by practitioners in publicly funded educational and training multimedia, rather than from the viewpoint of lawyers or rights owners.

Problems cited at the initial stages included lack of common European procedures for taking multimedia products beyond their initial scope, long delays in distributing products to new markets due to complicated procedures currently in place and lack of single source legal and procedural guidelines. In addition, the capacities of CD-ROM, DVD and on-line systems are so vast that they can contain immense amounts of information and assets in various media. At the same time, there are limits to what the education and training markets can afford and therefore on what price can be charged. This changes the traditional economics of IPR acquisition.

At the start of the project, the participants anticipated a considerable degree of harmonisation of copyright laws and common European solutions, given all the effort being put into international conventions and EU Directives but their feasibility study showed that this was not the case.

"Apart from national differences arising from different legal jurisdictions, there are variations in the way each EC country has incorporated conventions and EU Directives into national legislation," explains Project Manager, Ilaria Galli of SINFORM. "We also found differences in the education and training infrastructures, in the pace of development of educational multimedia and in the very specific nature of the problems encountered by multimedia producers in the various countries."

While taking account of similar situations which practitioners might meet in different parts of the European Community, COMPAS has been developed to provide advice specific to the details of the situation and the country. At present, the database covers only Denmark, Germany, Italy and the UK, but the technology is capable of being extended to include other countries.

The project takes account of all types of content, which a multimedia product might contain, including the written word, film, video, music, photography, paintings, drawings and databases. All of these have their own rules concerning copyright and their own solutions to IPR problems.

How it Works

The core of COMPAS is a web site, divided into public and private areas. While the public area offers details of the project, as well as relevant events, news and useful contacts, the most valuable information is available via a password-protected private area.

COMPAS Search Screen This contains a database of questions and answers designed to resolve the most frequently encountered problems in rights clearance. The content is classified in several ways, with menus related to type of media, country of origin of assets and categories of intended use. Visitors can search by categories or by words in the text, using the tick box menus, which are available in English, Italian and German.

While some of the questions are very specific with factual answers, others are more general, with scenarios ranging from simple to complex. The answers are country-specific and have been validated by legal experts.

There is also training collaborative workspace, an evaluation area for collecting feedback from user groups and a deliverables area reserved for COMPAS partners.

"Our intention is for the COMPAS database to be added to and modified to address developments in technology and law as well as the emergence of new problems as they are identified, especially by feedback from users of the web site," says SINFORM Director, Mr. F Iannelli.

What has been Achieved?

COMPAS Web Site COMPAS has introduced an integrated environment on the web, capable of supplying institutions, producers and distributors with advice on procedures and operations which can be applied to copyright problem-solving. It provides contact details of organisations dealing with these issues as well as possible solutions to contract between parties.

Fresh knowledge is also being developed via training actions based on co-operative learning. There is a COMPAS user group, consisting of organisations involved in the production, management and commercial exploitation of educational multimedia products, as well as an evaluation committee, composed of representatives from public institutions, from the scientific world and from the production industry.

The partners have already run some seminars, including a joint dissemination video conference, held in December 2000, which brought together universities, training organisations and publishers in a debate about e-learning and content development. The project has also participated in several European and national events.

A mailing list of different categories of potential COMPAS users has been drawn up and a brochure, in a choice of four languages, sent to everyone on the list. There are links to the COMPAS web site from each partner organisations own web site and the project is also making use of available European networks to disseminate information.

COMPAS has attracted praise from many quarters, including the UK Governments Learning and Skills Development Agency, which described it as potentially a fantastic resource and included a demonstration of the database in one of its own conferences.

It became apparent during the course of the project that COMPAS was unlikely to attract sufficient subscriptions to be commercially viable. Nevertheless, the partners have undertaken to continue to run the website for some months, while the prospects of either national or EC funding or a commercial sponsor are explored.

"The COMPAS project is giving IPR a European dimension by providing details of similar practices that will meet the needs of different European countries," argues Mr. Iannelli. "Such a valuable resource should not be allowed to run aground through lack of funding."


The project was implemented by six partners, led by Bologna-based training organisation, SINFORM, which was responsible for project management and for development of the web site, assisted by the other partners, who provided technical support and content. SCIENTER, an Italian research centre and training provider, handled project evaluation and dissemination of the results. Associazione Nazionale Editoria-Elettronica (ANEE), UNI-C, FIM Psychologie and Guildford Educational Services (GES) were responsible for input on copyright issues for Italy, Denmark, Germany and the UK respectively.


Mr. F Iannelli
Via Bigari 3
Email (email removed)

Other Partners
Associazione Nazionale Editoria-Elettronica (ANEE), Milan, Italy
FIM Psychologie Universitaet Erlangen-Nurnberg, Erlangen, Germany
Guildford Educational Services (GES), Aldershot, UK
SCIENTER, Bologna, Italy
UNI-C, Aarhus, Denmark

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 Last updated on 28-03-01

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