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Relevance between Digital Rights Management and their 'purchase'

When the owner a digital property 'sells' a digital product such as the music or songs contained in a CD, he is in fact selling a media containing the music or songs. He has not sold the rights underlying the products other than giving the buyer the right to listen and play for his private purpose.

Regarding a visual product such as text, photos or graphical works. There are several different types of use rights in the case of a consumer or end-user purchase, including:

· view only
· view and print
· view and copy
· view, copy and print
· time-limited use

If it is a sound recording product such as music, songs or movie. They include:

· play and listen only
· play, listen and copy

Use rights can be marketed individually or in different combinations. For example, a digital product can be marketed for viewing only. To protect digital rights, owners would look for technology so that it is incapable of being copied or printed unless permitted. Copying or printing would belong to other use rights requiring further compensation or payment to the right owner. This is called digital rights management. The most widely know example is DVD which is encrypted in such a way that the movie can only be played in certain region. That encryption technology has nevertheless been broken by computer program. Another example is the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) format which watermarks musical recordings to prevent duplication of the content. The encryption or watermark technology is often under challenge by technologists who consider circumvention being part of their research work or studies.

Licensing Multimedia Content

The improved powerfulness of personal computers, whether in terms of hardware or software, has eased the production and distribution of multimedia content. Multimedia production is no longer a costly work monopolised by TV or film commercials. Because of the widespread adoption of multimedia content as a form of informational production and distribution, production authors and content users must be familiar with the important elements of licensing in respect of multimedia productions.

The meaning of multimedia content would include music, video, audio works, sound recordings and any other audio-visual productions such as karaoke.

Collective Licensing

To license copyright works individually is costly and ineffective. For example, the cases of public performance of music and photocopying of published material. To solve the problem they have formed collecting societies or collective licensing bodies. These organisations license certain uses of their works on their behalf. The prominent example of a collective licensing body in Hong Kong is CASH (Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong), which is responsible for licensing public performance of musical works in Hong Kong.

Collecting societies are non-profit making private bodies. The way they operate is for members of the organisation (the copyright owners) to make decisions about, having regard to general law. Copyright owners must generally decide for themselves whether to opt for collective administration or management of their works for any particular uses.

Collective licensing means that a user may be offered a blanket licence covering use of all the repertoire of the collecting society. This also benefits users as they do not need to negotiate a large number of individual licences.

However, collecting societies may effectively be in a monopoly position for some uses of copyright material. An independent tribunal, the Copyright Tribunal, exists to adjudicate on the matter where the collecting society and users or groups representing users fail to agree the terms and conditions of a licensing scheme.

Collective administration bodies exist for licensing, and/or distributing royalties from certain uses of music and sound recordings and printed material.


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