INDECS is making a significant contribution to the
INFO2000 programme's objectives of establishing a comprehensive
e-commerce and interoperable rights clearance system at cross-sector
and European level. It has already been applied successfully to major
schemas, including for the recording industry, the library and museum
communities and the book industry.
What is INDECS?
"Without something like INDECS there will be no way of administering the
market for digital intellectual property," wrote Copyright Agency Ltd CEO
Michael Fraser in the Australian magazine 'E-commerce Today' 7 March 2000.
"The unavoidable consequence is that the only digital content of any
quality will either be available only on CD-ROM or DVD or locked up behind
expensive pay-per-view barriers."
In a multimedia environment where names of rights owners, users and works
are far from unique, INDECS provides a set of architecture rules which can
automatically recognise different kinds of identifier and obtain further
information about the objects which have been identified.
Tarja Koskinen-Olsson, Chief Executive of Helsinki-based joint copyright
organisation, Kopiosto, is project co-ordinator. "In each traditional
sector, one or more international 'metadata' schemes has emerged for
intellectual property e-commerce. Each must encompass multimedia content,
different languages, diverse technology platforms, widely differing levels
of detail and, most significantly, multiple functions. INDECS does not
provide an alternative these schemes, but a way to help them work
together," she emphasises.
INDECS uses a sophisticated model to
identify and describe intellectual property items from data sources
previously considered incompatible. The partners have already applied it
successfully to major schemas such as the copyright societies' CIS, the
recording industry's DCMS, the library community's FRBR, the museum/archive
community's CIDOC reference model, and the book industry's EPICS/ONIX. It
has also made a significant impact on the Digital Object Identifier (DOI),
a mechanism for allocating a unique identifier to a piece of content.
"INDECS is an absolutely fundamental analysis of the role of identifiers
and metadata in e-commerce," stresses Dr. Norman Paskin, Director of the
International DOI Foundation (IDF). "The DOI development would not have
reached its present stage without it."
The project has enjoyed widespread dissemination activities and publicity,
including a monthly newsletter 'INDECS Link'. At its height, the project's
website attracted over 100 users per day. Following the project's
Washington Conference hosted by the US Copyright Office in November 1999,
the partners set up an INDECS club, offering groups and organisations
throughout the world the opportunity to participate collectively in the
management and development of INDECS and individually to seek practical
compliance with it. This initiative was designed to prevent a 'standards
competition,' which would create major trade barriers to e-commerce.
How it Works
INDECS encompasses a generic metadata analysis, a high-level metadata
dictionary, principles for mappings to other schemas and a 'Directory of
Parties' Proposal. The rules identify and describe intellectual property
items from different data sources and often mutually incompatible systems
by 'mapping' them onto the model.
The dictionary holds all of the
information on INDECS metadata elements, their names, INDECS identification
numbers (iids), definitions, relationships and mappings to elements in
other schemas. The first part focuses on commercial and descriptive terms,
while the second part is concerned exclusively with legal terms.
The 'Directory of Parties outline specification' sets out the issues
relating to the structure, function and operation of a commonly accessible
Directory of Parties. As with the INDECS schema as a whole, it proposes a
way to achieve interoperability, so that people or organisations can be
identified unambiguously throughout the network and their privacy and
commercial confidentiality protected.
Another area of technical work was to achieve consensus on the structure,
function and operation of a commonly accessible metadata registry for
namespaces and their component metadata values. Such a registry would allow
any person, application, or any metadata value from an INDECS registered
schema automatically to be located, interpreted and translated into an
appropriate value from any other INDECS schema.
"As the project progressed, it became clear that the development of the
dictionary through mapping and the management of a registry were one and
the same activity" says Mrs Koskinen-Olsson. We also became aware that an
effectively structured registry would have to function at a higher level of
complexity than had yet been undertaken in any comparable registry
What has been Achieved?
Following a successful conference in
Sydney, to coincide with the project's official close, the partners have
established a non profit-making organisation called the INDECS framework,
to build on their success. This organisation is intended to safeguard the
intellectual property developed during the life of the project and to
oversee further technical work to help implement interoperable standards
for content identifiers and metadata, especially in the area of rights
The framework's participants are concentrating on identification and
vocabulary issues. There are three technical forums run jointly by INDECS
and IDF, which will oversee respectively implementation in identifiers and
metadata, resolution and data interchange, including further expansion of
the data dictionary. The INDECS rights project will define metadata
standards for intellectual property rights, agreements and business rules,
while continuing to explore the establishment of a related 'legal
Above all, the INDECS Framework is making every effort not to duplicate
the activities of other organisations. It is working closely with the IDF,
which has established formal relations with standardisation initiatives
within ISO (the International Organisation for Standardisation) and W3C
(the World-wide Web Consortium) and is continuing its discussions with WIPO
(the World Intellectual Property Organisation). INDECS also actively
supports the ambitious MPEG21 multimedia standards initiative, seen at the
time of writing as the best hope for achieving effective levels of
co-ordination across the daunting range of standards activity which has
been triggered by the digital content revolution.
In November 2000, the Association of American Publishers announced new
standards to promote the development of the e-book market. Their
recommendations of IDF's Digital Object Identifer for the numbering system
and of ONIX for the metadata system are strong endorsements of the INDECS
model which underpins both these systems.
Two years after this project began, copyright expert, David Martin
commented, "Most of the people who stand to benefit from INDECS aren't even
aware they are using it! The participants have achieved a great deal
towards delivering a theoretical model for designing e-commerce
applications which would not otherwise be economically possible."
"The project began with a dozen participants representing
creators/publishers, producers and rights owner organisations, together
with a database compiler, but can now claim a number of
in countries throughout the world," says
Mrs. Koskinen-Olsson. "These include enterprises as diverse as the BBC, the
Record Industry Association of America, the Japan-based Content ID Forum
and the Australasian Performing Rights Association. Their involvement adds
significant weight to our efforts to achieve convergence."
FIN 00100 Helsinki
Tel +358 9 431 521
Fax +358 9 431 523 77
8 St Andrew Street
Herts. UK SG14 1JA
Tel +44 (0) 1992 583 137
Fax +44 (0) 870 051 2911
Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD) Paris, France
CEDAR BV Amstelveen, Netherlands
Music Copyright Operational Services Ltd (MCOS) London, UK
EDItEUR Ltd London, UK
Verwertungsgesellschaft Bild-Kunst RV (BILD-KUNST) Bonn, Germany
Authors Licensing and Collecting Society Ltd (ALCS) London, UK
MUZE UK Ltd (MUZE) London, UK
IFPI Secretariat (IFPI) London, UK
Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) Sydney, Australia
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