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
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
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
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
"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
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
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.
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
There is also training collaborative workspace, an evaluation area for
collecting feedback from user groups and a deliverables area reserved for
"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 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
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
Mr. F Iannelli
Via Bigari 3
IT 40128 BOLOGNA
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
If you would like to download this page it is available in either Adobe
Acrobat (.pdf) or Word 97 (.doc) format
as an Acrobat file (139k)
as a Word 97 file (64k)
the detailed COMPAS
report as a Word 97 file
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