What Real Digital Rights Management Can Deliver

17 December 2015

AZARDI:Content Fulfilment, ODRL, rights options, agreements, offers, permissions

AZARDI:Content Fulfilment provides publishers with multiple delivery methods for their books so every market can be addressed with digital content.

Other Articles in the AZARDI:Content Fulfilment series:

Digital Content Business Models with AZARDI

Content Delivery Methods with AZARDI

In this article we are not going to get involved in the discussion of DRM good or bad, right or wrong, stupid or smart. Over in the "trade book" world DRM is primarily designed to stop people copying content and to lock that content to a specific device. Academic and education content are used in so many different ways and a strong rights management system is good for both publisher and end user.

AZARDI Uses the ODRL (Open Digital Rights Language)

AZARDI:Content Fulfilment has a comprehensive rights models built on the ODRL (Open Digital Rights Language). We first implemented this in 2006 for our trustworthy digital archive/library products IGP:ECMS Solutions and have used it for the last decade. ODRL works, it's reliable and removes all ambiguity from rights agreements.

The ODRL looks a little interwoven until you dig into it. Core to the ODRL are three entities and their relationships:

  • Assets
  • Rights
  • Parties

The rights include the usage rules:

  • Permissions which may contain any of the following in a context
    • constraints (Prohibition)
    • requirements (Duty)
    • conditions

This then allows the publisher to create an offer, which when accepted by the end user results in an agreement being generated.

  • Offers. The publisher makes an offer to the end user party with various rights permissions and duties. With AZARDI:Content Fulfilment the offer is made available from a website, through a dedicated portal, or in the case of institution volume user on paper.
  • Agreements. When the end user transfers the content to their device AZARDI:Content Fulfilment writes the agreement (in JSON) and passes that with the book content to the reading system. From that point on the Reading system is in control and enforces the terms of the agreement.

Permissions Available in ACF

Permissions is the big thing in rights management. AZARDI:Content Fulfilment and AZARDI reading systems currently allow the following optional permissions to be set by the publisher and controlled by an agreement.

  1. Subscription date control. The start and end dates of subscriptions can be controlled. For example with course material the content can be made accessible from the course start date even if the book was downloaded a week earlier. At the moment there is no subscription renew option as we haven't been asked for it.
  2. Lending period control. If a book has been accessed in library mode the return-by date is controlled so ACF can make the book available to anyone else on the waiting list.
  3. Reading on multiple devices/platforms. This is particularly important for education books and content packages, but is equally useful for any type of content. The user can access a book on their mobile device, and a desktop and possibly even online. No excuses for missing that homework deadline! 
  4. Access by multiple users. In the education context a permission can for example be given to a student and that students parents. In this case the parties are "Family".
  5. Changing reading device/platform. People change or loose their devices. If you upgrade your platform a book or full library of books can be transferred to the new device and the new device is registered. The next time someone opens AZARDI on the lost device the device is no longer valid and the book is deleted.
  6. Transfer user. A book may be transferred to another person just like a physical book. This can be by sale or giving of the book. Of course the transferee must have an account with that publisher.   
  7. Fair use copy and print.This is one of the trickier permissions. By default AZARDI allows 10% of a book's content to be included in annotations and exported for printing via highlights and notes. This can be set to a different level by the publisher. In addition The quantity of continuous text that can be transferred can be controlled. Academic publishers tend to be very generous with this permission.
  8. Book section download controlled by date. This appears to be a strange requirement but when delivering education content into environments with limited Internet resources it is very useful to be able to deliver only the content for a term/semester. When content is being delivered to 100's of thousands of students those transfers make any system sweat. This feature is discussed more in the article Digital Content Delivery Models. 
  9. Bibliographic reference generation. When an ePub3 is correctly tagged with print page numbers permission to create and export bibliographical references is included. This is a significant value add feature for academic publishers in particular.
  10. Auto content updates. Some digital content needs to be maintained over time. While ePub3 and AZARDI:Content Fulfilment are primarily focused on books, there are publishers of all types out there. For example there is a major bank that uses it to update policy and training documents to their staff across hundreds of locations. The ePubs are maintained in IGP:Digital Publisher, updated to AZARDI:Content Fulfilment and immediately available for download to thousands of employees with smart phones, tablets and desktop AZARDI ePub3 Readers (branded of course). 
  11. Language delivery options. Our new multi-language books give the user the option to select from a number of languages for download. The user is offered up to five languages, can select any combination to address their language learning needs. The transfer agreement is created and the package is sent with just the required language. Using the mechanisms of ODRL just make sense and make complex digital content delivery easy for the publisher.

In Conclusion

AZARDI:Content Fulfilment  gives publishers the confidence to know that their digital content is being delivered to their users the way that was agreed. With the direct delivery model ACF transfers the rights agreement and ePub3 content as a JSON package (the IDPF are evaluating this method at present). There is no encrypted ePub file lounging around in storage.

At the same time publishers are able to offer their readers and users exceptional agreement features unavailable in any other ePub2 or ePub3 reading system.Good digital content rights management enhances publisher business and end-user engagement and ownership experiences. 


Posted by: Richard Pipe

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