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Telematics for Libraries - Project


Updated: 22 APR 99
Project Number and Title
3033 - Billing System for Open-Access Networked Information Resources
Programme/Action line Call Topic(s) Start End Duration
in Months
FP 3/ III Theme 21 February 1995 March 1997 26
Copyright; billing; Internet; SGML; World Wide Web;

blue bullet Additional information is available at the COPINET web site . (

Integrating access to networks and electronic documents/resources for delivery of new library services (theme 21)
Project description
The COPINET consortium (comprising a major library, a publisher of primary and secondary material and a systems company) constructed and tried an experimental system using the World Wide Web for information retrieval and document delivery. The system incorporates mechanisms for the secure handling over the open Internet of the commercial aspects of the information service. In particular, it tested the handling of authentication and charging of known registered users as well as obtaining payment from unregistered users through secure transfer or through the use of electronic cash systems.
The consortium built on the well-established mechanisms and protocols of the Web, making particular use of some of the technologies recently emerging for supporting secure Web transactions and for anonymous digital cash transfers. The publisher mounted on a server at the library site, a selection of its abstracts database together with links to full-text documents. The server software was enhanced to incorporate a variety of charging, billing and payment mechanisms, making use where appropriate of available software components. The system was tested with real library users, in order to evaluate the viability of the approach, and its usability and acceptability with respect to the users and publishers.
Technical approach
The project was structured into four workpackages:
  • Requirements specification;
    • Definition of problems from technical, publisher, library and end-user perspectives;
    • Technology survey;
    • System specification;
  • System implementation;
    • Set-up of two Web servers for search and delivery;
    • Detailed functional and interface design;
    • Registered and unregistered user integration;
  • Evaluation testing;
    • Test preparation;
    • Initial closed testing;
    • Public testing;
    • Analysis and evaluation;
  • Dissemination and exploitation;
    • Internet information server;
    • Focus group;
    • Conferences and standards-related fora;
    • Exploitation plan.
Key issues
  • User requirements;
  • Implementation of the WWW servers with search and delivery services;
  • Authentication, billing, charging and payment modules;
  • Testing with registered and unregistered users.
More precisely issues included:
  • Compliance with three Web-associated entities:
    • HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol);
    • HTML (HyperText Markup Language);
    • URL (Uniform Resource Locator);
  • SGML development (and possible convergence with HTML), since at present it does not cope well with mathematical and special information publishing needs;
  • Secure transactions handling, with reference to protocols such as Secure-HTTP, of Terisa in the US, Shen from CERN and SSL.
  • Incorporation of encryption standards - for example, PEM, RSA, PKCS-7 and DES;
  • Server software was enhanced with charging, billing and payment mechanisms. Payment options included:
    • cards, with current problems of security, non-repudiability, authentication, authorisation and privacy;
    • E-cash, aimed specifically at anonymous transactions.
Impact and results
COPINET contributed towards solving problems of billing, charging and payment for the use of copyright or proprietary materials which are to be made available on the Internet.
Publishers benefit from increased understanding of means of exploiting this potentially vast publishing outlet; librarians from improved knowledge of the relation between information provision and new technologies for handling it; end-users from the growing number of sources of high quality authoritative materials and ease of payment.
The project produced a working model for accessing and ordering documents in an open as well as in a closed environment; the model thus is able to handle requests coming from different types of users (registered or not). During the project the publisher and library base were extended through the expert Focus group. This increased the possibilities for a larger uptake of the solutions developed. The results of COPINET are complementary to the work undertaken by the project COPICAT ( ESPRIT ).
The main delivery is the operational prototype. The system specification, test plan, test data and exploitation plan are all restricted issue.
In the public domain are reports on:
  • System requirements;
  • Technology survey;
  • Test evaluation;
  • Service operation;
  • Workshop;
  • Project materials;
  • Final report.
Documentation is available from the contact below and from COPINET web site .


Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
MARI Computer Systems Ltd. UK - TYNE & WEAR NE35 9PE NL
Title, First Name, Name Mrs Sue Lovell Address: Unit 22, Witney way
Boldon Business Park
Boldon Colliery
Tel: +44-191-519 19 91 Fax: +44-191-519 19 90
E-mail 1: (email removed) E-mail 2:

Other Partners

Name of Institution/Organisation Country Role
The National Technological Library DK P
The Institute of Electrical Engineers UK A

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