PROTECTING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS (IPR) ON E-LEARNING SYSTEMS
The current digital technology has created many new opportunities for improving the user experience and to enrich its own learning experience. New interactive content, available anytime and anywhere, taking advantage of the new digital and ubiquitous networks, improves the user learning processes and leads to better results in terms of education effectiveness.
Although this digital era has produced the opportunity for the creation of richer content and an easy access and usage, it has at the same time raised enormous challenges in terms of Intellectual Property (IP). While in the old analogue era the IP ruling mechanisms were properly established and working, in this new era the same mechanisms are hard to implement and to enforce. Benefiting from the digital push, IP violations are easier to perform and harder to detect, leading to exponential losses in the market – this has prove to be particularly true both for the music and the movie industries. But this phenomenon is not limited to these two.
One of the competitive factors between the different education institutions is the quality of the education that they provide to their clients – the students. Therefore, one of the most important assets of these education institutions is the knowledge that is created by their teaching staff and the way it is delivered to the students. This “knowledge” manifested in many ways (presence of the educator on the classroom, presentation slides, papers, reports, work assignments and many others) is delivered to students using different channels.
With the Internet widespread one of the favourite channels for delivering educational content to students is through its publication on the WWW. Specific web-based systems for this purpose are formally known as Learning Management Systems (LMS) or Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS). LMS are focused on delivering, tracking and managing training while the LCMS is a related technology to the learning management system focusing on the development, management and publishing of the content that will typically be delivered via an LMS. LMS and LCMS act as brokers between the teachers that produce educational content and the students that consume and use such content. In terms of IP of the content that is made available, both the LMS and the LCMS offer little control over the content property and rights enforcement.
Two major e-learning content IP-related processes need to be addressed by this environment. The first one is related to the production of educational content to be placed on the platform. In this process it is necessary to identify if the new content being created requires others sources of content (that can be adapted or modified) are also IP protected. In such case, the IP governing information should be enforced and preserved on the new version of the content created. In this first process it is also important for the author to define the conditions that will govern the new e-learning content that will be placed on the LMS. The second process refers to the rights enforcement on the end-user side. In this second process, the student accesses the governed e-learning content according to the rights established by the content authors chain.
In this paper, the authors will address the IP issues raised by these two processes and a secure, distributed and open system will be described as a way to offer the necessary requirements for the integrity of the digital e-learning IPR to be protected.