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Image INDECS ( Interoperability of Data in E-Commerce Systems )

INDECS is making a significant contribution to the INFO2000 programmes 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.

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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 Model 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 industrys DCMS, the library communitys FRBR, the museum/archive communitys CIDOC reference model, and the book industrys 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 projects website attracted over 100 users per day. Following the projects 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.

Media 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 activity."

What has been Achieved?

INDECS Conference Following a successful conference in Sydney, to coincide with the projects 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 management.

The frameworks 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 namespace.

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 IDFs 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 arent 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 affiliates 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."


Tarja Koskinen-Olsson
Hietaniemenkatu 2
FIN 00100 Helsinki
Email (email removed)

Mary Gianoli
Indecs Framework
8 St Andrew Street
Herts. UK SG14 1JA
Email (email removed)

Other partners
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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 Last updated on 28-03-01

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