IPeMS : a Digital Rights Management framework for learning objects, 31 July 2006 : a thesis contributing to a Master of Information Science degree, Information Systems Department, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The Internet is long-acclaimed to provide a medium for easy sharing of ideas and collaboration, and has huge potential for academic and training organisations to share learning resources. However, there are no formal mechanisms for managing intellectual property (IP) and there remain today tensions between freedom to share and ownership of creativity. Theories around land property rights have contributed to the rights of IP as we know them today. Creating digital IP, however, is not a physical labour like toiling the land. It does not preclude the owner from retaining a copy and copying the IP does not make the IP more scarce, or competitive to possess. Management of IP rights is about finding a balance between over zealous enforcement and 'free' use of IP. Protection of IP can be achieved by law and technology, and a mechanism for managing the use of digital learning objects would require a digital rights management (DRM) framework. Architecture of XML (eXtended Markup Language) Web Services is emerging as a standardised approach to dynamic component connectivity and interoperability that relies on self-describing components and open connectivity standards and emerging standards, including IP (Internet Protocol), SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), WSDL (Web Services Description Language) and UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration). XML Web Services technologies have great potential as the underlying technology for the establishment of a DRM framework for learning objects (LOs) on the Internet. An initial survey, with endorsement of findings by experts in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education, identifies the components of an online contract that would license an educator to use LOs. A framework is proposed and a prototype of an intellectual property electronic management system (IPeMS) is designed and developed. Web Services operations authenticate teachers and enable the teachers to search for LOs. The teachers can view permissions and constraints of use of the LOs, and can create a contract, with or without payment as the conditions dictate, that, on agreeing to, will license the teachers to use one or more learning objects. Another evaluation survey completes the research study, giving feedback about IPeMS, with respect to its application to an educational environment, to license an educator to use digital LOs.