The appetite for consuming content and the accessibility of information continues to increase at a rapid pace. Access devices, with a large set of differing terminal and network capabilities, continue to evolve, having a growing impact on peoples' lives. Additionally, these access devices possess the functionality to be used in different locations and environments: anywhere and at anytime. Their users, however, are currently not given tools to deal efficiently with all the intricacies of this new multimedia usage context.
Solutions with advanced multimedia functionality are becoming increasingly important as individuals are producing more and more digital media, not only for professional use but also for their personal use. All these "content providers" have many of the same concerns: management of content, re-purposing content based on consumer and device capabilities, protection of rights, protection from unauthorised access/modification, protection of privacy of providers and consumers, etc.
Such developments are pushing the boundaries of existing business models for trading physical goods and require new models for distributing and trading digital content electronically. For example, it is becoming increasingly difficult for legitimate users of content to identify and interpret the different intellectual property rights that are associated with the elements of multimedia content. Additionally, there are some users who freely exchange content with disregard for the rights associated with content and rights holders are powerless to prevent them. The boundaries between the delivery of audio (music and spoken word), accompanying artwork (graphics), text (lyrics), video (visual) and synthetic spaces are becoming increasingly blurred. New solutions are required for the access, delivery, management and protection processes of these different content types in an integrated and harmonized way, to be implemented in a manner that is entirely transparent to the many different users of multimedia services.
The need for technological solutions to these challenges is motivating the MPEG-21 Multimedia Framework initiative that aims to enable the transparent and augmented use of multimedia resources across a wide range of networks and devices.
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