Physics Institute Turns To Web Services

Mar 23, 2003 (07:03 PM EST)

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The American Institute of Physics was one of the first online publishers of academic journals, having launched its Online Journal Publishing System in 1994. With some 110 journals in its repertoire today, the institute has been using eMeta Corp.'s eRights access-control technology for more than two years to make sure that the scientists and researchers who come to the site only get access to what they're entitled to. That means everything from free browsing to the purchase of individual articles to full-blown subscriptions.

Now the institute wants to start experimenting with developing a Web-services approach to delivering its virtual journals, what it calls the documents it publishes directly to its users between the production of complete journals. With the release Monday of a new suite of applications, eMeta will open that door with the introduction of RightServices, a software module that will let customers set up Web services that can tap access-control rules built with the former eRights engine, now called RightAccess.

James Wonder, manager of the online-systems division, says he expects to buy the RightServices module within a year, and that he expects it will enable the institute to publish more virtual journals and to deliver its current list of full journals in new ways. "It's going to give us a lot more flexibility," Wonder says. He's also excited that the new RightAccess will support server clustering, a key to the institute's 99.6% site up-time last year. RightAccess will allow Wonder to jettison the Veritas cluster server he's depended upon for that until now.

EMeta opted to divide its flagship eRights application into two modules--RightAccess and RightCommerce--because customers had been confused by commerce-related fields that were part of the access-rights setup. "We're seeing people who really want to secure--but may not want to monetize--their content," says CEO Jonathan Lewin. With the new RightServices app added to the suite, Lewin says customers will be able to purchase a more precise fit to meet their needs. He says one-fourth of the company's customers have requested Web services APIs so they can build Web services to deliver content and applications online.

Both RightAccess, which also introduces a metadata directory and delegated-administration capabilities, and RightCommerce cost $125,000 for a 2-CPU license. RightServices is priced at $100,000. Packages of all three modules are negotiated on a case-by-case basis.