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Historical material

Please note: This section of the website details activities prior to TVET Australia Limited assuming management of the AEShareNet licensing system.

This document is an archived material written during the development of the AEShareNet system and website. It is retained on the site solely for those interested in tracking the history of the initiative.

Multimedia Licensing in AEShareNet


This paper discusses the nature of content licensing for multimedia products and the way in which that need might be accommodated within the licence regimes provided under AEShareNet.

Briefly, the paper concludes that multimedia licensing can be accommodated within the current proposed licence regimes, particularly AEShareNet-C. However, there may need to be some additional flexibility in the way in which the AEShareNet-C licence operates. The additional flexibility is probably desirable in any case and will increase the proportion of occasions when licences can be transacted through AEShareNet.

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Definitions and Distinctions

The term "multimedia" nowadays typically refers to a CD-ROM product. The CD-ROM format may carry text, clipart, photographs, animation, sound recordings, and clips containing full motion video. These are structured and interrelated by a layer of indexing and "look and feel" elements, usually prepared by the use of a multimedia authoring language or development toolkit such as Delphi, or Macromedia Director.

The term "content" refers to the informational or entertainment content carried on the product, but would exclude any "runtime" components of the development software and the application software containing the indexes, screens, etc.

Multimedia may also refer to a website with similar functionality to the above.

Sometimes a CD-ROM product is distributed together with an entitlement to access updates available on-line, ie effectively a hybrid CD-ROM/Web-based platform is used.

The term "platform" is sometimes used to denote the format, ie: CD-ROM, web-based or hybrid.

A typical multimedia product may contain thousands of content items. Where these must be sourced from third party content providers the procuring of content licences becomes a major issue. It may take a substantial period to complete all licence negotiations and fees may consume a substantial part of the budget.

A multimedia product may contain

Copyright issues may arise at several points in the development of a multimedia product:

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Terms of Multimedia Licensing

I have examined useful websites and reviewed the literature on current multimedia licennsing practices. In particular I examined a Discussion Paper: Licensing Content for Multimedia prepared by the Australian Copyright Council in December 1997 and I have discussed some issues arising from that paper with the ACC. I have also examined the standard multimedia licence form preferred by the Australian Multimedia Enterprise, but this should be construed in the light that its terms are naturally disposed towards the interests of the producer.

In the ACC survey some respondents reported that the difficulties licensing in content were such they had largely given up and preferred to rely on content created in-house.

Licence terms negotiated in practice vary as to:

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As it happens most of these are matters that are dealt with as parameters or variables under the proposed AEShareNet-C licence. I will return to this point below.

In the simpler cases, licensing of content may occur under the other (royalty free) regimes. For example:

One of the differences (not identified by ACC) about multimedia content licensing is that the sub-licensing issue may be critical. A multimedia product (whether CD-ROM or Internet based) always entails that the end-user will exercise some copyright rights. Accessing a web-site always entails downloading a copy to the client browser, and often involves taking a printout for (at least) in house use. Using a CD-ROM usually entails the making of a ephemeral copy of the material accessed in screen RAM, and more extensive acts of copyright may occur if the CD-ROM is made available within an organisation on a networked basis.

It appears the industry practice frequently is to skate over the issue of sub-licensing. It is dealt with obliquely sometimes by stipulating the platform and including over details of the proposed product and market, from which the nature of end-user rights may be deduced. The AME form gives the producer virtual carte blanche by stating that the "licence includes the right to grant sub-licences to the extent required to enable the Producer to exploit the Rights in or to the Licensed Property".

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The definition of "Exploitation" relevant to all AEShareNet licences allows limited end-user actions, which are viewed as a natural extension of the permitted Exploitation. - see Economic Rights & AEShareNet.

However this may not be enough in all cases and the AEShareNet-C licence allows greater flexibility to define the scope of permited sub-licensing and to relate that to the type of platform, the market reached and royalty rates, etc.

Refer to AEShareNet-C Profile for the licence particulars for AEShareNet-C Licence Profile. The variable fields allow the necessary flexibility for (even relatively complex) multimedia licensing. The fields where variable information may be entered are shaded.

AEShareNet-C acknowledges that it may not be possible in every case for the Licensor to lay down in advance all the conditions for licensing, ie to put the Licensee in a position immediately to accept the Licence. The Licensor may wish to view details of the Licensee’s proposed product, and to assess in particular the market and end-user rights necessary, before agreeing, or before setting a royalty rate for the Licensee to agree. The parties would however use the AEShareNet-C profile as the template for exchanging proposals and counter-proposals, via the AEShareNet site. The site would track and highlight variations in the negotiable fields, generation by generation. Other fields would be secured against alteration.

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Summary of AEShareNet Modes

In summary:

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Related Links

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