Note: Unfortunately looks best on Explorer


From the forthcoming publication: Computer Graphics and Multimedia: Applications, Problems, and Solutions, John DiMarco, Editor, Idea Group, Inc, 2003.



Ben Howell Davis,

Davis International Associates

1 902 521 7040


Everything That Can Communicate Will:

Aspects of Digital Asset Alignment and Management




The concept of aligning and managing digital assets is a reaction to the evolution of digital production and digital networks. The understanding of this evolution is rooted in experiences in the library and museum communities, the digital solutions and design disciplines, the communication and entertainment industries and law. Aligning and managing digital assets is predicated on the notion that everything that can communicate will and in a sense begins to approach what neuroscience has been telling us for quite some time - that everything actually does communicate in some way or other. There are a number of levels of digital assets. Digital assets are created and maintained in support systems architecture, in digital production tools, in digital content development, in taxonomy development, in user destination designs, in audience interactions, and in legal monitoring. Being digital means everything can be accounted for, everything can communicate, everything has value, and everything can last. Acquiring, merging or divesting a digital enterprise requires comprehensive digital asset management at every level.




Assets, content, production, distribution, publishing, intellectual property, alignment, standards, hyper-link, networks, liquidity, continuity, viability, architecture, mobile, PC,

broadband, interface, longevity, conversion, migration, vocabularies, inventories, Web, e-commerce, streaming media, BtoB, DAM, CRM, CMS, DRM, cross-platform, metagging, seven-layered, datalink, application, BHA, ATT, CDROM,
DVD, micropayment, archive, Intranet, Extranet, Internet, on-line, workflow.


No There There

     Digital communication has become " ephemeral content."  There is no object, such as a bound book or celluloid film, but rather content exists as a digital asset to be accessed. The issues are how to make the digital assets accessible, how content can be widely distributed, and how the components that created the content can be reused. There are a number of misconceptions about digital asset production and distribution that should be acknowledged:

        Digital asset creation costs less than physical analog production. 


        Digital asset  creation  can be more expensive than physical

                 production depending on what kind of strategic treatment the

                 material is given.


        Digital asset creation is easier than older physical forms. Digital asset production is often not easier than traditional mediums because there are so many new options available in the digital realm.


        Digital asset production is as coherent as traditional forms. Digital is evolving as it is being understood, which makes it very difficult to know exactly what the best choices are at any given moment.


     Traditional publishing practices have radically changed. Pricing based units of information (books), libraries as distributors, intellectual property, royalties, marketing as the primary means of stimulating sales, and the shifts away from of container-based infrastructures like the packaging of paper books have all altered the practices of publishing.

     What has been required are strategies for going between object-based and content-based pricing.  Transitional strategies include providing individual and institutional access to electronic materials, developing digitized content, digital access tools, and the consumer purchase of print as well as electronic forms.  The development of digital accounting standards and digital intellectual property rights are paramount in digital asset management processes.    In digital asset creation novelty becomes the required. The rapid demand for hyper-links, interactive graphics, full motion video, and sound on the Web are all evidence of novel ideas becoming standards.

     Digital technology facilitates the creation and exchange of data, information, and knowledge across ever expanding networks. This condition raises issues in digital asset liquidity, digital asset continuity, and digital viability for utilizing assets for prediction, risk analysis, and decision making, 

     What are the current technical requirements for digital alignment? What are the strategic forces shaping architecture asset management? What do digital assets actually represent? What may the economics of digital asset management become? How can an organization position itself to make maximum use of digital assets in the future?


What Is Digital Asset Alignment?

     Digital alignment is the seamless coordination of digital liquidity, digital continuity, and digital viability. Digital liquidity refers to  how digital assets are created and used. Factors that influence the degree of liquidity are the strategic plans for maximizing a return on the initial investment in digital production, anticipated types of screen destinations like mobile, PC, broadband and/or print, plans for re-purposing various types of production, and interface design.

     Digital continuity refers to how digital assets are stored and accessed. The longevity of digital materials is a topic of high interest. Digital technology produces fragments of projects in great quantity. Strategic planning for format conversion, migration, and usage frequency involves understanding and implementing evolving standards, metadata, storage formats, and search/access tools that involve sophisticated common vocabularies. Attention to digital continuity ensures the long-term use of assets.

     Digital viability is concerned with how the use of assets is measured. Increasingly, the digital enterprise must justify budgetary expenditures for liquidity and continuity methods and practices. Tools for measuring return on investment, tools for modeling opportunities, and tools for risk analysis and decision making are beginning to be developed to track the viability of assets into the future.

     Enterprises that manage digital liquidity, continuity, and viability create architectures of assets that must be aligned and integrated so that assets communicate on all three levels. Committing to digital solutions that seamlessly address these concerns is serious, core business practice. Solutions need to be considered for proactive management of digital assets that focus on reducing production costs and creating new revenue opportunities as well as protecting content. Digital inventories are ever expanding, The growing usage of the Web, e-commerce, broadband, the proliferation of peripheral media devices, the consumer demand for streamlined access to exciting new forms of content, the increasing deployment of streaming media, the necessity for legal protection of assets, and the quest for new revenue streams and improved workflow efficiency all require deep solution strategies. 

     The focus on efficiencies is especially relevant. Efficiencies maximize production budgets, prevent asset loss or redundant asset production, ensure asset availability for cross-platform distribution, provide security for valuable assets, support partner relationships and provide platform specific access modes for internal or business to business (BtoB) operations. Successful digital alignment and management allows the realization of new revenue opportunities, protects asset rights, tracks asset usage, and allows for incremental asset utilization .

     Currently, industry terminology for systems that manage digital liquidity, continuity, and viability are Digital Asset Management (DAM), Content Management Systems (CMS), and Digital Rights Management Systems (DRM).

     Digital Asset Management systems digitize physical media assets into storage systems. These systems leverage metadata structures to support asset cataloging and rights licensing policies. Content Management Systems (CMS) support Digital Asset Management by providing intelligent access tools to asset storage and archival facilities. Content Management Systems also enable edit capabilities to support the pre- and post-production phases of content development. Digital Asset Management and Content Management Systems identify most valued assets based on liquidity, reusability, scalability, interoperability, and accessibility. They design asset cataloging and metatagging foundations, digitize and archive priority assets, create core licensing rules, and identify critical legacy system integration initiatives. DAM/CMS validate current core technologies, search features, processes, rules, manage risks of asset loss or redundancies, ensure asset availability for cross platform distribution , and ultimately optimize user experience.

     Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions help solve legal and logistical business problems through asset security and rights protection. Digital Rights Management solutions control asset usage and enable the collection of usage fees. Digital Rights Management implements asset tracking, builds order management, enforces access, enables cross-market with partners and enterprise divisions, and bills for asset usage. DRM encourages the exploration and implementation of various tools for securing assets, creates new business models around monetization and digital distribution of content, enables licensing/syndicating content and/or interactive programs, can facilitate wireless/E-games (subscription, pay-per-use), creation of custom applications for classroom learning, airlines, and entertainment venues. DRM can facilitate ad-wrapped content, product placement, merchandising, allow for consumer data collection and targeted marketing, implement usage tracking systems, capture user profile information, and monitor and bill for usage.


Required Information  Systems

     Digital content is content that is understood at a human level and simultaneously understood and interpreted on the computer level. This is the distinguishing factor of digital asset production. Unlike a printed work, digital information simultaneously interacts with humans and with computer  systems. With the advent of the World Wide Web, an electronic publication speaks to the world of humans as well as the world of computer systems. The depth of asset creation is staggering. The communication alignment is absolutely essential.

   The technologies that support "containerless content" are network systems. Networked digital technology used for production and distribution is a multi-layered system.  There is a standard seven-layer (level) technical model[i] for networked digital technology that describes ways in which lower levels affect higher levels and ways in which higher levels do not (and cannot) know the details of lower levels. 

     The lower levels provide common functionality that can be used by different implementations of the higher levels.  The standard levels are traditionally number from the bottom (1) to the top (7), the top being what the system user sees and interacts with. Levels 8-10 are here added to represent additional concerns now apparent in digital asset creation and distribution. Everything starts with the physical (machines, wires), so that is why it is level 1.


10.  Distribution: Web, warehouse, navigation schemes, strategic design,

      graphic look and feel, audience mediation, content administration   

      and maintenance.

9.   Content and medium: appropriate media, writing, editing, design,  

      development, production, marketing.

8.   Production application: specific programming for publishing, metadata,         

      conversion from print to electronic.

7.   Application:  Layer where instructions or requests are received and

      executed at the operating system level.

6.   Presentation: File Transfer Protocol program, Netscape browser window.

5.   Session:  Individual connection to network.

4.   Transport:  TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), which works over IP

       (Internet Protocol).

3.  Network:  Includes routing, IP network addresses, and everything else

     needed to make the Internet work no matter what specific network

     technologies are at the lower levels.

2.   Datalink:  Includes Ethernet protocol or PPP (Point to Point Protocol)

       over a T-1 line.

1.   Physical: Machines, cables, wires, etc.


     Hardware engineers deal with level 1. System engineers commonly speak of working on a layer 2 or 3 problem. Communication engineers deal with levels 4 and 5. A user or an application developer interacts with the top levels 7 - 10, which represent access (a login window for instance) to the application (Netscape) and content (electronic book).

     The digital production may use "application" layer software to display or interact (link) with other material. The electronic author can use application software to "write" material that is interactive.

     The final material, however, has been shaped based on its content, not by arbitrary uses of the lower technology. The electronic author need not technically know how any of the underlying levels work but he/she must be aware of the potentials and limitations of levels 7-10 in order to make judgments on how to treat content. Authored material is administrated into various schemes for navigation purposes and for visual impact at the distribution level.

     The top three (8-10) levels must work in parallel. Content must be developed and seamlessly created for the specific medium in which it will be distributed. Content creators must work directly with application developers and distribution designers. Users interact with content, pass communication back to content creators who interact with applications to apply feedback to improve infrastructure,  and so on down the chain. Ultimately something may affect hardware as a final solution to a content reaction -- a new scanner is needed because users don't like the quality of a digital image, for instance.

At every level a different form of digital asset is created and will require maintenance over time.

     An electronic article comparing an impressionist painter to a post-impressionist painter might instruct a person to access related images by expressionist painters.  An interpreted applet (small, one-function application) would instruct a computer to pass data to a network server to access the file of images - that server can be anywhere in the world,  as can the reader of the article.

     Digital assets are " architected" as well as authored. That is, the content is designed so that it communicates with the computer on whatever level necessary to make the content perform for the user. Adding a "link' to a text is now a common "information architecture" on the Internet that makes the computer layers perform in such a way as to connect the user to some other system, document, or program and at the same time transport the reader to other content separate from the document he/she is involved with.


Digital Asset Complexity

     It should become obvious that digital assets are created at every level of systems architecture. Until very recently, digital assets were mostly thought of as content or an electronic publication. In the most general sense, an electronic resource that requires "editorial review" is a digital "publication". Publications are assets, products that an organization puts forth as a representation of its commitment to a field or area of business endeavor. As long as editorial review is involved in the production of an information resource, that resource can be viewed as a publication asset of an organization.

     Other electronic information assets may not require editorial review in the sense that they are software developments that require code review. The search engine developed for the Getty's Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA), the Getty Provenance Index, and Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals CDs is an example of this type of software asset. Because all of these projects are capital publication projects (the CDs are sold), the search engine can be considered a capital asset because it is the necessary software that allows the databases to function as a searchable publication.

     The search engine software is in a category of medium or long-term capital asset. This is essentially a subclass of fixed assets that are neither working capital nor fixed capital. These assets are not furniture, equipment, or publications. This class of asset is a form of intellectual property similar to a patent. Third-party costs for developing these kinds of assets can be amortized over fixed periods and may be tied to the economic life of a product such as a book that will remain in print for 5 or 10 years. Other costs that may fall into this category of capital assets might include on-line versions of capital publications whose longevity is tied to the longevity of the print version. A system could be developed to track this process whereby electronic asset closeouts would parallel print publication closeouts.


Economics of Digital Assets

     The price determinants of digital assets are the presentational demands of the material, production demands, the scope of services that the material may support, how long those services need to be maintained, the anticipated uses of the material, and the breadth of the targeted audience.

     A long-range planning timeframe of twelve to eighteen months is very important for digital asset production. It is the amount of time needed to synchronize the pricing determinants with possible shifts in the market.

     There are a variety of cost-recovery models for digital publications:

        CD-ROM/DVD products with proprietary interfaces and licenses for single

      computer/user rights


        CD-ROM/DVD products with proprietary interfaces and network licenses

        CD-ROM/DVD delivery of  projects on local servers under domain or subnet



        Internet publications on FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites

        Internet publications with Gopher interfaces

        On-line projects with proprietary interfaces and time-base



        On-line (non-Internet) projects with proprietary interfaces and multiple    

      tier-based charges (shopping cart model, with each abstract at x rate, each 

      article at y rate, etc.)


        Internet projects with Web interfaces and multiple tier-based   charges

     (shopping cart model, with each abstract at x rate, each article at y rate,



        Internet projects with Web interfaces under password-restricted access  

      and simultaneous-user restrictions


        Internet projects with Web interfaces under domain-access models with

      price-based on full-time enrollment


        Internet projects with Web interfaces under domain-access models with

      site-license restrictions on usage of materials


        Internet projects with Web interfaces under domain-access models with

      usage unrestricted


     Change may be very near in the form of  "micropayments"[ii]. Charges for digital information could start as low as two hundredths (0.02) of a cent, would be a very swift debit/credit transactions at very low transaction cost -- a tenth of a cent and up, depending on security, volume, speed, and would be done by automated systems. Micro-payments would be necessary in a "disintermediated" system, a system that is direct to the consumer via electronic delivery.

     Prices are dependent on transaction costs, the cost of shipping, storage, markup, promotion, advertising, storage as well as production costs like  editing, markup/typesetting, and server. In the micro-payment scenario, transaction costs will drop to virtually nothing and micro-payments will allow instantaneous payment, thus taking the billing costs out of the charge.[iii]  In the new micro-payment option, transaction and intermediation costs plummet, prices become dictated by the nature of publisher, author, and content almost exclusively. In the micro-payment world there could be:

        Five or ten-year cost recovery timetable, without any significant cost for  



        Continuous-update subscriptions

        Fragment fees (0.02) worth per paragraph, section, article, or segment.

        Variable quality with expense based on how high a resolution is desired.


        Image with explanatory background for extra cost

        Pricing by audience demand

        Pricing by audience type

        Pricing by time in broad or narrow increments of minutes, days, month

        Shareware knowledge

        Pricing by knowledge level/filtration/server processing.

        Pricing by update frequency

        Institutional discounts


        Association membership discounts

     Standard variables such content, the audience, the author's demands, the ongoing costs are now compounded by a potential for a wide variety of consumer desires unique to electronic publishing such as print on demand or usage of portions or fragments of publications. The new demands on the producer may be:

        Development of support infrastructure

        Explanatory material


        Ethical choices regarding prices


        Acquisition strategy changes

        Rethinking of the "unit" (the book, periodical, etc.)

        Flexibility of production

        Direct relationship with customer

        Multiple intermediaries

        Subsidiary rights/contractual diversity

        Micro-royalty mechanisms


 Art Collections vs. Industry Collections

     It is instructive to understand the differences between traditional cultural museums/archives and industrial collections. In museums individual objects are of value and increase in value over time, requiring stable long term systems of asset management. Industry Archives are composed of individual objects, groups of objects, production artifacts, marketing materials that can be of value depending on historic and market demands. Industry Archives require variable, flexible, scalable, strategic systems for asset evaluation and management.

     An arts organization is unique in that it functions as a school, a museum, a library, a laboratory, and a fiduciary. It is public and private, academic and corporate in its management. It serves both the general public and a variety of highly specialized audiences, from art historians to the general public.  It may give grants, sell products, and distribute products freely as a public service. The introduction of networked digital technology into the organization will  affect internal and external communications, publishing, record keeping, accounting, financial services, and investing activities. The following partial list offers an example of the complexity and number of computing systems in an arts organization:

        General computers, servers, network and telecommunication systems

        Collections management systems

        Public kiosks

        Visitor reservations system

        Contact management and mailing list system

        Facilities work order management systems

        Human Resources Management Systems

        Financial Information Systems

        Library and collection management systems

        Specialized database systems

        Web browsers

        Image Collection Systems

        Subscription system

        Publication inventory and fulfillment systems

        Bookstore inventory systems

        Web e-commerce

     At some point, most of these systems will need to communicate with each other in order to have an efficient means for cataloging, researching, producing, advertising, distributing, archiving, accounting, rights verification, revenue projection, licensing, and communication, both internally and externally. These systems will be the infrastructure of Intranet, Extranet, and Internet[iv] use of digital publications.


Shaping Forces

     Digital production appears to be shaped by eight forces all of which are necessary to production and distribution. All of these forces seem to be constantly changing and shifting.

Concept:  Information design, the future of words and images in the digital domain.  These are the creative factors that drive the initiation, development, and implementation of digital resources.

Product:  Editorial, time constraints, physical media limitations such as the capacity of a CD-ROM/DVD, non-physical media like the Web, etc. These are the realities that constrain the form of the final product.

Accounting:  Capital and operating expenses, revenue, on-line subscription, license fees, budgeting for maintenance of digital material over time, etc. These are the constraints that determine the asset status and future re-purposing of digital assets.

Legal:  Intellectual property such as copyright, trademark, licensing agreements. These are the risk factors inherent in doing business as a digital producer.

Technical:  Software and hardware required, bandwidth limitations, future opportunities, etc. These are both the opportunities and constraints inherent in free-market technology.

Archival: Asset management, preservation, reuse, record keeping, etc. These are the long-term realities of committing assets to a digital form.

Transactional: E-commerce, advertising, promotion, audience data gathering, etc. An ever-evolving electronic marketplace requires participation in order to gain competence.

User: Audience, communication, relationship building, marketing, etc. These are the forces of individual choice, mass appeal, and asset value.

     All of these forces make some kind of demand on technical infrastructure as well as shape the quality of the product. All of these forces have to be considered when creating and implementing information architecture as well as content. The forces must be integrated, both technically and conceptually, for successful production.


Integration of Forces

     A brief look at the history and evolution of the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) and the Thesaurus of Art and Architecture (AAT) from print publications to electronic publications gives an interesting perspective on how electronic publishing has occurred at the Getty Center.

     Cumulative reference works like bibliographies and thesauri are naturals for the digital domain because they are works that are essentially never complete. Their contents accumulate from a variety of sources and they are published at regular intervals. The BHA, for instance, was created in 1991 by merging two older bibliographies, the Repertoire d'Art and Archeologie (RAA) and the International Repertory of the Literature of Art (RILA)[v]. Both of these bibliographies continued to be in print until 1989. The BHA was begun as a print publication in 1991 and was still in print as of November 2000, when the final print edition (Volume 9) will end the print publication. The merged RILA and RAA as part of BHA began a parallel CD-ROM publication in 1991. This electronic version also became on-line resources with the Research Library Group (RLG) and Questel in France in 1996.  The Getty and the French organization Institut National de l'Information Scientifique et Technique (INIST) of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) also became joint copyright owners of the BHA in 1991.

     All of this is to point out that the BHA began as two print publications merged into a third print publication, which then took on a parallel electronic production that has now resulted in a quarterly CD-ROM edition of the BHA, two archival CD-ROMs of RILA and RAA, and on-line versions hosted by third party vendors  with joint copyright held by French and American entities. The print component of the mix will be discontinued in favor of the CD-ROMs and on-line access to the material.

     The production of the BHA CD-ROM had its editorial offices in Williamstown, Mass. (this has since moved to the Getty Center in late 2000), does the data compilation at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, data processing for the CD-ROM at Inforonics in Littleton, Mass., the CD-ROM packaging at Getty Trust Publication Services in Los Angeles, the CD-ROM production coordination at Co-Operations in Portland, Oregon, the disc manufacturing at Sony in Oregon, and the distribution through Getty Trust Publications warehouse in Calabasas, California. Although the entire process appears quite cumbersome, in the electronic publication world it is not unusual at all. In fact, over the years of its electronic incarnation, the process has been quite efficient and cost-effective. The BHA returns revenue from the CD-ROMs and on-line royalties significant enough to cover CD-ROM production costs.

     The process successfully accommodates all the forces that shape an electronic publication from concept to user. The BHA conforms to the force matrix:

Concept: Large-scale bibliographic database for the study of the history of art

Product: CD-ROM and on-line subscription

Accounting: Capital publication, capital cumulative asset, sold and licensed

Legal: Joint international copyright

Technical: Based on software engine held jointly by publisher and vendor

Archival: Cumulative update that can migrate to any digital media - currently  

                  as CD-ROM and on-line access


Transactional: CD-ROM subscription, third-party nonexclusive on-line

                           license with royalties


 User: Well-established user base with good new user market opportunities --                 

            need for the publication and information never becomes dated.


     The Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) celebrated its Tenth anniversary in 1990 with the print publication by Oxford University Press. Development of the idea began in 1979-80 and took ten years to bring to press.[vi] The thesaurus, like the bibliography, embraces the cumulative reference concept and collaborative authorship style that make it a natural for digital publication. It collects synonyms for describing works of art and architecture from a variety of international sources, vets the terminology, and establishes standard vocabularies. The decade after its inception witnessed the development of the microcomputer, the proliferation of on-line databases, and the beginnings of collection management software. This had an effect on the automation of art and architecture collections. From its beginning, the AAT was thought of as a standard vocabulary tool for the new electronic databases. The notion of a print version was somewhat secondary to the necessity for an electronic version. Researchers and scholars, in describing their work, had clearly articulated the problems:

        The agony of tracking down information when indexes are inadequate

        The difficulty of organizing visual and written information

        The threat of loosing information due to lack of certainty of what the information    

       is  called in different indexing systems


        The impossibility of finding what you need in unindexed archives[vii]

     The AAT first appeared as a three-volume print publication in 1990. In 1992 the Authority Reference Tool (ART) software was created to allow computer access to the data in the first edition. By the time the second edition was published in 1994, ART was improved to allow immediate access to the data, to make it easy to navigate through the thesaurus, and to make it possible to copy terms from the thesaurus to a database record. This last feature made the AAT a production tool as well as a reference tool.

     ART was designed to run on PC-DOS or MS-DOS and was never updated for Windows 95 or Windows NT. Since 1996 it has not been very useful. Since 1997 the AAT has been available as a licensed download from the Getty Web site without any accompanying software. Licensees incorporate it into their own software applications or have an interface built for it. The AAT was also prototyped as a filtering agent for search engines in 1997-8 and proved very successful as a way to narrow searches on the Internet. This last application has carried the AAT from a print publication to computer application to an Internet browser to an Internet search enhancement.  The Art and Architecture Thesaurus is a prime example of the way developments in technology parallel the utility of a cumulative reference literary form.  If we apply the forces matrix to the AAT:

Concept: Large-scale thesaurus for art and architecture terminology

Product: Licensed download

Accounting: Capital cumulative asset, licensed

Legal: Getty copyright

Technical: hierarchical text, no software

Archival: Cumulative update that can migrate to any digital media --

                 currently  as ftp access


Transactional:  Nonexclusive license for sliding scale of fees


 User: Well established user base with good new user market opportunities -

            including search engine market, need and information never becomes



     The examples of the BHA and the AAT are important on many levels. They make the case that publishing does not mean books per se. Publishing means  the shaping of content. Content created to perform in the constraints of the paper page may be freed by digital publishing to become not only new content but a variety of new opportunities as well.

     Both of these examples point to larger issues having to do with production. Digital transmittal, the integration of publication databases, on-line licensing, conversion of pre-press materials to a variety of formats, issues of digital workflow, archiving, re-purposing, dynamic publication catalogs, third-party agreements, and how to establish criteria for deciding what form a publication might take are all concerns that make managing aligning digital assets critical.

     Production of digital assets may take place internally within an organization's IT group and may be done in cooperation with a number of design and research groups.  A Digital Asset Services Group might review and comment on contracts, agreements, permissions, and licenses for distribution of electronic products as a responsibility of managing most fiscal aspects of a the publications budget. Publication Services may, when appropriate, research and recommend third-party distribution opportunities such as licensing existing products to Internet content service providers.

     Digital Asset Services could research and propose projects that will facilitate efficient infrastructure like the electronic vendor transmittal system for moving manuscript materials to printers via the Internet, on-line licensing, or  database integration projects.

Digital Asset Services could work closely with the intellectual property manager of a legal department to ensure that all digital  products are properly registered and annotated.


The Future

     One area that will be increasingly important to the future of digital asset production is an inventory of intellectual property rights for materials in electronic form. In its broadest implication, an intellectual property assessment generally means determining:

(1) whether you have all the necessary rights to exploit an item in whatever venue or media  you intend to use it (print, electronic, advertising, performance, etc.) ; and

(2) whether you have taken or can take the necessary steps to adequately

protect the item from unlawful use by others in current and  future media.

     The answers to these questions will depend to a large extent on the way an organization decides to use its intellectual properties. At this point, it is difficult even to estimate the scope or cost of this kind of review without knowing how complex the histories of the various properties are. A complete review might focus on the developers and/or creators of the items, their relationships to the organization at the time the items were acquired or developed (e.g., employees, contractors, or contributors, etc.) and the sort of agreements they have or had with the organization. 

     Some initial issue spotting could be done before a definitive plan was implemented. For instance, a sample of properties from the various parts of the organization could be looked into as a way to model the process. The range of intellectual property issues is broad and could include:


        Public Affairs materials

        Contemporary works

        Web materials



        Scholarly works



        Library materials

     Typically the process for developing successful communication architecture alignment involves intensive strategic planning including an asset inventory, a needs assessment, a thorough understanding of existing systems and practices, and an examination of data collection criteria. Planning and preparing reviews of standard vocabularies for describing assets, reviewing standards for continuity and longevity, understanding cross-media definitions, and applying insights into methods and practices are critical. Solutions require defining requirements and alignments and in most cases customization of systems and configurations.


Policy for Information Architecture

     Organizational information systems need to be interoperable, have consistent technical compatibility for future relationships, and develop a core of criteria for judging functionality. Resources for production, development, communication archiving, and accounting -- both financial and intellectual property accounting -- become increasingly dependent on consistent overall technology architecture.  Internal and external uses of digital material have an effect on intellectual property rights, storage and preservation of digital assets, on leveraging advantages vis--vis Internet use, and on the strategic long-term goals and mission of the organization.  The organization's digital library and asset management systems, electronic publishing initiatives, image delivery systems, digital archives, and cumulative digital assets will need to be seen as threads that require careful management. New threads are constantly being added like Customer Relations Management systems (CRM).

     When customer call centers began using software to collect data on each caller, computer telephony integration (CTI) became a business function. The logical extension of this became CRM (Customer Relationship Management) with the move of the CTI database information back into the organization. Managing relationships with customers is not a new idea but the notion of a level of sales automation with CRM is irresistible. This means that information from the sales force could be retained and potentially used  to guide product development. Costs are attached to integrating CRM systems with existing IT systems, aligning information architectures, and creating links to other digital assets, content, and rights management systems. Systems alignment and integration costs can be three to five times initial CRM licensing. CRM has to be thought of strategically rather than a repository for customer data. CRM is most effective when it wins new customers and retains existing ones.  CRM can prompt sales people with information significant to customers needs and lifestyles including dates and events that personalize the customer experience.   Continuing Education departments at some universities are beginning to use CRM systems to track what courses students have taken and inform them of new offerings that may be of interest to their career directions. The notion that continuing education is "life-long learning" makes CRM an attractive tool for retaining students far into the future and keeping enrollment at peek levels. The education consumer is not a new idea for universities but CRM makes it possible to communicate with students in a substantive way that provides the university with data on educational trends while encouraging brand loyalty from customers. The data that these CRM systems generate is invaluable in marketing campaigns and kept over long periods, can reveal potential sources of future revenue as well as guide institutional investment.


The New Past

     With the advent of digital technology, the great variety of options open to creating content in different forms is constantly expanding. Asset production now includes knowledge of complex digital systems, electronic distribution, industry directions, and vision of future opportunities. This is especially true where highly sophisticated development requires that everyone involved must understand something about every aspect of a digital project -- from the mission of the organization to the nature of source material as well as the quality of design, production, distribution, audience, and technology. The client and the service are merged by alignment in digital communication. The continuity of the resulting assets is rapidly becoming a new kind of digital currency. 


End Notes

[i] In the 1980s the European-dominated International Standards Organization (ISO) began to develop its Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) networking suite resulting in the Basic Reference Model, or seven-layer model.  (From Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia,

[ii] From Michael Jensen, Director of Publishing Technologies for National Academy Press, 1997. Since Jensen's lecture at the Getty in 1997, ebrary, Inc., an electronic publisher associated with Adobe Systems, Inc., has begun (June 2000) to institute the micro-payment concept for accessing on-line materials by allowing users to copy parts of free documents for a minimum payments of 15 cents per page. Payment is made with the on-line equivalent of a phone card.

[iii] When databases provide human-free billing, the phone bill will drop even further

[iv] Intranet for internal uses, Extranet for uses with external partners, collaborators, etc., and Internet for the global public.

[v] RAA began in 1910 and gained the support of the CNRS in 1963 to become fully automated in 1973. The print edition was issued from 1910-1990. RILA began in 1975 and merged with RAA in 1989. The print edition was issued from 1975-1989.

[vi] The 1994 second edition of the AAT is still available from Oxford University Press in five volumes for $395.00.

[vii] The J. Paul Getty Trust Bulletin (Fall 1987): 4-5, Introduction to the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, 2d ed., "The History of the AAT," by Toni Petersen, 1994.





Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia,


Davis, Ben H. and Margaret MacLean (2000). Time and Bits: Managing Digital Continuity. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Trust Publications.


Getty Research Institute (2002), Bibliography of the History of Art.  Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Trust Pubications.


Getty Research Institute (2002). Art and Architecture Thesaurus. Los Angeles: J.Paul Getty Trust Publications.


Petersen, Toni (1994). Introduction to the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, 2d ed., "The History of the AAT". Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Trust Bulletin.