The principal concern of this article is to provide researchers and practitioners in information science and technology with legal references on the concepts, issues, trends, and frameworks of intellectual property protection regarding multimedia digital library in engineering manner. Digital library is the global information infrastructure in the networked society (Borgman, 2003). A digital library, as an information system, consists of digital contents in databases and retrieval mechanisms. The right protection of digital library is a critical issue in the digital library community that demands frameworks for recouping their investment in database design and system implementation. Intellectual property law gives incentive to advance appropriate investment in database design and implementation with two types of intellectual property protection: copyright and patent (Jakes & Yoches, 1989; Junghans & Levy, 2006). Multimedia digital contents take a variety of forms including text, images, photos, and video streams, which often commingle in multimedia digital libraries. Nevertheless, present legal studies are not satisfactory as the source of technical interpretation of the intellectual properties regarding multimedia digital libraries. The intellectual property protection of the multimedia digital libraries demands clear and concise frameworks.
In this section, we discuss two main issues on the intellectual property protection regarding multimedia digital libraries. The first issue is the copyright protection of databases to which the multimedia digital contents are stored in multimedia digital libraries. The second issue is the patent protection of the retrieval mechanisms of multimedia digital libraries.
U.S. Copyright Act (2005) defines that a compilation or assembling of individual contents, that is, preexisting materials or data, is a copyrightable entity as an original work of authorship. Gorman and Ginsburg (2002) and Nimmer, Marcus, Myers, and Nimmer (2006) state that a compilation is copyrightable as far as it is an “original work of authorship that is fixed in tangible form.”
Multimedia digital libraries consist of multimedia digital contents which are indexed and stored in databases for appropriate retrieval operations and the retrieval mechanisms which are optimized and applied to object domains of those databases. A database of a multimedia digital library is copyrightable in the form of a component of contents-plus-indexes while static indexes or metadata are fixed to multimedia digital contents in a tangible medium of repository, that is, database. Static indexes or metadata represent a certain kind of categorization of the entire content of each database in a multimedia digital library (see Figure 1).
Copyrightable digital library as contents-plus-indexes
The originality on the categorization makes each database copyrightable as is different from the mere collection of its individual contents. What kind of categorization should be original to constitute a copyrightable compilation on the database in a multimedia digital library? The court of American Dental Ass’n vs. Delta Dental Plan Ass’n (1997) determined that minimal creativity in compilation sufficed this requirement of originality on databases. Any standard or framework on the requirement is not clear in the technical or engineering meanings. A uniform framework on the categorization regarding indexes or metadata of databases in multimedia digital libraries must be formulated in engineering manner.
The European Union has legislated and executed a scheme for protecting a database including its content per se, known as the sui generis right of database protection (Aplin, 2005; Reinbothe, 1999; Samuelson, 1996). That European scheme shares the same issue on the originality regarding the categorization of multimedia digital contents in databases of multimedia digital libraries.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Multimedia Digital Contents: Multimedia digital contents are data entities which are stored in multimedia digital libraries in a variety of forms of text, images, photos, or video streams, which often commingle therein.
Digital Library: Digital library is a system as an infrastructure for global information, which consists of digital contents in databases and retrieval mechanisms.
Copyrightable Database: Copyrightable database is a compilation of individual contents, that is, preexisting data of originality, as fixed in tangible form.
Patentable Computer Program: Patentable computer program is a computer-related invention in the form of a data-processing process or method to produce a useful, concrete, and tangible result for transforming physical data.
Sui Generis Right of Database Protection: Sui generis right of database protection means a kind of right of database protection which the European Union has legislated as a scheme for protecting databases including contents per se.
Multimedia Digital Library: Multimedia digital library consists of multimedia digital contents which are indexed and stored in databases for appropriate retrieval operations and the retrieval mechanisms which are optimized and applied to object domains of those databases.
Trade Secret on Parameter Setting: Trade secret on parameter setting is a legal framework to keep secret the range of parametric values in practice rather than just patenting parameter setting components.
Combination of Processes: Combination of processes is a patentable computer program or programs as a number of “processes,” that is, methods or means for data processing, some of which are prior disclosed inventions.
Contents-Plus-Indexes: Contents-plus-indexes is a component that comprises static indexes or metadata fixed in a database of multimedia digital library.
Parameter Setting: Parameter setting is a patentable computer program or programs which realize thresholding operations with a set of ranges of parametric values.