Report on Intellectual Property Rights Policy Roundtable for Columbia Pubscape
NSDL CIS Project

December 2000

Submitted by Kate Wittenberg, Project Director
Director, Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC)
Senior Executive Editor, Columbia University Press

On December 15, 2000, the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC) sponsored a roundtable discussion on intellectual property rights policy at the Columbia University Law School. The purpose of the discussion was to solicit the comments and perspective of those who will be affected by intellectual rights policies in the digital library environment as authors, users, and disseminators of scholarly and educational scientific content. We plant o use the results of this discussion to understand the important issues in this emerging area and to create a framework for developing policies and the accompanying technologies to manage rights within a digital science library on a large scale.

The discussion was not scripted and was lead by June Beseck and Jane Ginsburg, professors at the Columbia Law School whose academic work focuses on the issues if intellectual property and copyright. The roundtable was by invitation, and included the following participants:

Project PIs and staff in attendance included:

Summary of Discussion

We focused the discussion by posing the following questions:

  1. What are the necessary/desirable components of a digital rights management system for author? For publishers? For users?

  2. What type of information and/or tracking would authors or other copyright owners want the system to provide with respect to their work?

  3. To what extent is technological protection appropriate to ensure that users have valid access to the system and comply with any restrictions placed on the material by authors or other copyright owners?

  4. To what extent is technological protection appropriate to ensure that users are accessing the authentic version of the content?

  5. How can a digital rights management system for educational materials provide an appropriate level of protection for authors and at the same time accommodate users' privileges, such as fair use?

  6. What incentives would publishers have to participate in such a digital rights management system? What incentives would the system have to include them?

  7. What effect would authors' participation in the NSDL rights management system have on their potential ability to publish their work through more traditional channels?

Major issues raised by participants during the discussion

Two issues that emerged as being of primary importance in the creation of a digital rights management system are:

  1. Integrity
  2. Payment

Comments on Integrity of content:

The integrity of the content is critical to the library's usefulness to scholars and educators. How do we protect the integrity of content in the digital library environment?

Some reasons for using technological protections include:

Many publishers use the honor system rather than technological means for ensuring the authenticated nature of the content on their products.

One possible role for the digital rights management system is a tracking mechanism to ensure that author receives scholarly credit for use of his or her material.

Will users give up some rights to privacy in exchange for better quality information from a digital library?

Comments on Payment for content:

Summary of policy issues raised that will be considered in building the rights management technology:

Levels of restriction

Cost and Revenue

Authenticity and integrity of electronic materials