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ACTION LINE 3.1 CATALYSING HIGH-QUALITY EUROPEAN MULTIMEDIA CONTENT

3.1.1 BACKGROUND

Potential European multimedia content producers are currently not fully exploiting the wealth of opportunities in Europe because of the fragmentation of the markets, language and administrative hurdles, the dispersion of source material, rapidly changing technology and the difficulties related to intellectual property rights in the different domains and Member States. Transnational cooperation to overcome these obstacles represents a high risk, especially for SMEs, and an additional cost overhead and therefore support is needed at Community level for pilot ventures to lead the way forward.

OBJECTIVES

The action aims to help create a European information content industry that is able to compete on a global scale, resulting in positive effects on employment, the economy and European cohesion. To do this it will support the development of pilot products and services that embody advanced applications using multimedia features. Such projects will be innovative, bring high quality information to users and demonstrate best practice in information service development.

3.1.2 ACTIONS

Support will be given to projects that will accelerate the development of the multimedia content industry in four key areas: economic exploitation of Europe's cultural heritage, notably through edutainment methods; business services for firms, in particular SMEs; geographic information; scientific, technical and medical information.

Calls for proposals will be launched in order to select the pilot projects to be supported, the first of which will be published in Spring 1996. Further calls may subsequently be launched, either in the context of the INFO2000 programme and this action line, or in coordination with other programmes, e.g. in the framework of the Educational Multimedia Software initiative, or other action lines.

Projects will be supported in two phases: a definition phase of six months to elaborate technical and business plans, consult users, negotiate cooperative agreements and produce a working model to demonstrate the envisaged functions; an implementation phase (following evaluation of the results of the definition phase and selection of the most appropriate for further development) in order to refine the service, process the relevant data, carry out user testing and establish an operational service or facility.

All projects will be required to include a plan for the dissemination of information about methodology and experience gained, for the benefit of others in the field. In addition to the formal requirement of the involvement of partners from at least two Member States, all projects will exemplify the benefits of transnational European cooperation and have at least four partner organisations. This will enhance European cooperation, increase the possibilities for organisations to participate in the programme and aim towards a wide linguistic and cultural coverage.

Community support will normally be calculated at up to 40% of the actual costs of project work. However, small enterprises having less than 50 employees, and those enterprises established in a less favoured region, may receive funding up to 50% of their costs. Funding of definition phase projects will be limited to 100 000 ECU per project. Implementation phase projects will normally be subject to a ceiling of 500 000 ECU per project. However, a higher ceiling, up to a maximum of 1 000 000 ECU support may be decided in exceptional cases.

3.1.3 SUBJECT AREAS

Cultural Heritage 
In the Cultural Heritage area the aims are to stimulate the economic exploitation of Europe's cultural heritage through the implementation of new multimedia information services and to allow a wider access to those resources. Multimedia systems allow images, sounds and text to be combined in imaginative new ways, to be transmitted in digitized formats and to be stored and reproduced or networked for wide public use. The projects supported may have one or more of the following orientations:

  • The production of new multimedia information content together with new educational and edutainment tools to access such content and deliver it online or off-line. These projects should aim at providing cost-effective electronic information, including data, pictures, texts, video and sound where appropriate, to increase understanding of Europe's cultural assets by its citizens.
  • The creation of directories and guides to cultural heritage information resources that allow correspondence of information across the cultural and linguistic diversity of the different European regions;
  • The constitution and availability of shared digitised data resources that can be re-used by the electronic publishing industry for the development of value-added products and services.

Services developed should utilise delivery mechanisms that are widely available and appropriate to the purpose. They must also exhibit a high quality of data content in order to meet users' needs. The projects supported should take account of standards for the exchange and integration of cultural information and where appropriate be coherent with the objectives of the G7 Information Society Pilot Project "Multimedia Access to World Cultural Heritage".

Business information for firms, in particular SMEs 
SMEs are a key element of the structure of the European economy, through their capacity for growth and their essential impact on employment. However, they face difficulties in accessing appropriate and timely information necessary to seize the opportunities to integrate themselves in transnational trade and achieve competitiveness in an increasingly global marketplace.

The objective of actions in this domain is to encourage initiatives by the European information industry to improve the supply of information in a multi-lingual and multimedia form to industrial and commercial enterprises, especially SMEs. The information content must be seen to help firms to increase their productivity, improve competitiveness and expand their markets, especially across borders.

Information service developers must show an adequate understanding of the working conditions of the businesses in the economic sector concerned and the services produced must use accepted standards for the classification and description of materials and services in the industry concerned. Proposals should show substantial involvement of end users and, where appropriate, should take account of relevant industry association policies and initiatives, as well as those of the EU, for example in the case of standardisation or data collection.

Projects will network multimedia information from different sources, process the data for easier use and provide adequate interfaces to the user's working environment. Delivery may be over networks for real-time data access combined with more static delivery facilities such as CD-ROM. Projects should take account of the objectives and framework for action of the G7 Information Society Pilot Project "A Global Marketplace for SMEs", which is intended to contribute to the development of a global electronic environment to enable SMEs to carry out their business more effectively and more profitably.

Geographic Information 
Geographic Information (GI) technology is acquiring increasing importance for its value in integrating, modelling, analysing and visualising many kinds of information content. It depends firstly on the availability of base or topographical data and currently too little base data is available at pan-European level which can be easily shared. Secondly, thematic information content, relating to applications such as statistics, demographics, environment and economics etc., has so far been largely exploited only at national levels, to varying specifications.

The projects supported will have therefore one or more of the following objectives:

  • to demonstrate through innovative pilot applications the advances made in integrating base data and thematic information content, especially where incorporating new or emerging GI standards, where new subject areas are tackled and where the user community is closely involved.
  • to provide pan-European information about GI, what is held, in what format and how it is accessed (metadata services);
  • demonstrate integration or interlinking of base data of a pan-European, or trans-border nature that may form the building blocks of future commercial applications, especially where such projects will help to establish common specifications for pan-European GI datasets;
  • demonstrate methodologies for collecting, exchanging and using pan-European GI, including provision for networked access to other services (e.g. links between metadata services);

Projects should include alliances between data owners and potential users in the application sectors concerned, especially for trans-border applications of GI, in order to avoid duplication of data collection effort and to help data providers to produce end products which serve actual needs of user communities.

Scientific, Technical and Medical Information 
The core creators and users of STM information are the research scientists. However, the information produced by them is also used by many users from different cultures and having different objectives, in particular those in industry. All these users must work together to effectively undertake the creation, dissemination and use of such critical information.

The calls will seek to support :-

  • Projects which address specific sectoral information needs and develop products and delivery services based upon proven commercial requirements.
  • Integrated information services which specifically address the prospects of integrating industry procedures and systems with the requirement for information market products. E.g. the development of technical information, such as materials test data, to integrate with tendering and bidding systems.
  • Services that address the need for public policy makers and administrations as well as workers' and citizens' organisations to have available scientific information adapted to their requirements in specific domains, such as public health protection.

Projects must include the active participation of representatives of both the scientific and the end user environments.

3.1.4 CRITERIA FOR SELECTION

The proposals will be evaluated taking into account the following criteria:

  • Formal Criteria, in particular,
    • participants must include at least 4 independent organisations from Member States of the European Economic Area;
    • at least two partners must be established in different Member States of the European Union;
    • the Coordinator must be established in the EU;
    • the proposals must include a plan for the dissemination of results
  • Strategic criteria, in particular,
    • Projects should clearly address the objectives of the programme in stimulating the European information industry through the example of high-quality European multimedia information content;
    • They should offer potential for a multiplier effect, e.g. through a major innovation in access to, handling or delivery of the source information or through the creation of new market openings;
    • They should address a verified need and a potential market at the likely cost of the end product to the user and through the use of hardware and software that will be commonly available by the end of the project;
  • Technical merit and soundness of approach, in particular,
    • overall technical feasibility and the use of most appropriate solutions;
    • quality of the information content of end product, i.e. reliability, depth and breadth of coverage, etc.;
    • demonstrated understanding of users' environment and information needs, validated where possible by reference to relevant associations or representative groups;
    • use of standards;
  • Organisation and management, including experience of proposers, quality control and management methods.
    • Commercial and Financial aspects, including,
    • soundness of financial plan and availability of matching funds;
    • financial standing of proposing organisations;
    • commercial viability of proposed products of the project;

3.1.5 DISSEMINATION OF RESULTS

In order to ensure that the projects supported have a strong impact outside their own development environment, it is essential that the results and experiences be disseminated as widely as possible. Suitably targeted exhibitions, conferences and similar events will be selected and attended, introducing presenters and demonstrations from the development projects in order to spread the knowledge gained and encourage further activity in the content production industry.

3.1.6 EXPLOITATION OF SYNERGY

Close collaboration with other programmes, particularly the Telematics Applications, MEDIA, RAPHAEL and those of different industry policy sectors, will be pursued in order to achieve synergy with the programmes of those services and coherence of the projects supported with the needs of the sectors concerned.

3.1.7 EXPECTED RESULTS

It is estimated that over 100 initial or definition stage projects can be supported over the four-year programme, and about 30 projects to carry the initial results to the stage of prototype development and testing. The projects are expected to implicate in total some 500 organisations and will attract wide interest and emulation by many hundreds more. A catalytic effect and high visibility will be obtained by the use of promotional material and participation and demonstrations at exhibitions and information days and events to exchange best practice. The achievements of the IMPACT programme, where some 65% of participants were SMEs having less that 250 employees, indicate the likely level of interest and participation in this kind of action under INFO2000.

ACTION LINE 3.2: TRADING MULTIMEDIA INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

3.2.1. BACKGROUND

Historically, the management of IPR rights is either individual or collective, the latter predominantly being organised by sector and by country. With the dawning of the multimedia age this situation is increasingly becoming a barrier to the development of multimedia content markets, as the time and effort that has to be spent by multimedia product developers on identifying and acquiring the different rights increases steeply with the number of data types involved and the number of countries where right holders are located. Small companies and new media start-ups suffer most from the present system as they may wish to re-use existing material. The development of pan-European multimedia content often requires input from various Member States.

Effective and efficient mechanisms for trading multimedia rights at the European level are therefore essential for the development of the European multimedia content industry and act as a basic infrastructure for all parties concerned. For holders of rights such mechanisms provide greater exposure to potential demand, lower transaction costs, increased volume of business, increased security, and more efficient asset management. For multimedia product developers, systems for trading rights provide a wider range of works on offer, increased supply-side competition, lower transaction costs, and more effective and efficient project management. End users will obtain their share of the benefits of increased efficiency in the form of lower end-user prices and better quality.

3.2.2. OBJECTIVES

The basic objective is to contribute to the enhancement of the current multimedia trading environment in the Union, by increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the rights dealing processes between right holders and multimedia product developers. The objective is focused on the organisational and operational issues of multimedia rights trading systems, complementing thereby the regulatory dimension addressed under the Green Paper 'Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society' (COM(95) 382 final of 19.07.1995). The objective concentrates furthermore on multimedia rights trading systems, supporting specifically the relationship between right holders and multimedia product developers, rather than the general electronic copyright management systems addressing end-user environments.

3.2.3. ACTIONS

Actions will be carried out in close consultation with all interested parties and will conform to the subsidiarity principle regarding private/public and national/Union roles.

They comprise a range of supporting activities, implemented through calls for tenders and pilot projects, which will be selected on the basis of calls for proposals.

Supporting activities will be initiated at the start of the INFO2000 programme to provide a strategic frame assessing the current situation and evolution scenarios with regard to relevant business, technology, standards and legal issues. They will serve as a basis for the definition of priority domains to be addressed under the call for proposals for pilot projects and will contribute to medium and long term policy development.

Pilot projects will be supported in a limited number of priority domains that lay the foundations for enhanced cross-border and cross-sector trading of multimedia rights. They will identify, develop and test business, technology, standards and legal models and demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed solutions.

3.2.4. EXPLOITATION OF SYNERGY

The actions will build on the relevant research and technological development activities under the Fourth Framework Programme, on the achievements of the Legal Advisory Board under IMPACT2 and on the results of the consultation process launched by the Green Paper 'Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society'. They will take account of ongoing activities at the global level, such as standardisation of work identifiers and information formats, developed in the framework of WIPO and ISO. In particular, account will be taken of the technological standardisation work carried out in the Esprit programme and close cooperation will be established with such projects as Imprimatur (international standardisation), Copysmart (ECMS), Copearms (technology transfer)

3.2.5. EXPECTED RESULTS

The proposed actions aim at accelerating, in a coordinated manner, the adaptation process of the rights management system in light of multimedia convergence and internationalisation. The key results expected for right holders and multimedia product developers are reduced transaction costs, increased cross-sector and cross-border business, and more efficient asset management and project management. Expected results for end-users are lower product prices and better quality.

3.3 BUDGET FOR ACTION LINE 3

 

Action line 3.1 Date BUDGET%
1st Call
  • Definition phase projects
1996 7.7
  • Implementation phase projects
1997 12.3
2nd Call
  • Definition phase projects
1998 6.2
  • Implementation phase projects
1999 9.8
  • Project and programme support
1998/9 4.5
  • Dissemination
1998/9 3.5
TOTAL
44.0
Action line 3.2
  • Supporting activities

1.2
  • Pilot projects

3.4
TOTAL
4.6
TOTAL FOR ACTION LINE 3
48.7


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