Monday, October 4, 2004

Data Depth's iCopyright Plugin Aims to Make Licensing Awareness and Compliance Easy

Data Depth Corporation has announced announced a new beta plugin for Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers recently to facilitate the content licensing and redistribution for content users trolling the Web sites of some 600 major publishers, so a test drive seemed to be in order. A simple download and registration process yields a small icon in the toolbar zone that turns green within a few seconds on a high-speed connection when the user's company has a site license for a given publication, yellow when pay-per-use licensing arrangements are in place and red when there are no specific arrangements in place. Clicking on the icon allows one to specify the redistribution uses intended and submit them with single click while the original article remains on view. A "teaser" sample of proposed options that can be integrated into this licensing toolbar include printing, saving portions of content for fair use and emailing. The kit does not have technology hooks to lock out content use a la rights management software, but within its limits it provides a simple and easy way to understand reuse rights at a glance that are specific to an individual or institution. Looking at the "under the bonnet" code embedded in pages that interact with this facility shows that it is pretty simple to implement with minimal overhead. So much of rights management can be obscure and annoying to users, so starting with a visual metaphor that's easy for people to grasp and use for copyright compliance is an important step in the right direction. The technology for taking this concept further to manage a full range of licensing and storage issues is available, so perhaps the iCopyright toolbar can extend its footing into a broader array of content purchasing and management issues over time. A "one-stop shopping" approach to rights management is sorely needed in the industry, and tools such as the iCopyright toolbar point the way towards better solutions.
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