In May 2015, the International Rights Statements Working Group released two white papers with our recommendations for establishing standardized rights statements for describing copyright and reuse status of digital cultural heritage materials, and the enabling technical infrastructure for those statements. After working for nearly a year to implement the recommendations of the white papers, the Digital Public Library of America and Europeana are proud to announce the launch of RightsStatements.org.
In partnership with Creative Commons, Kennisland and key stakeholders of the DPLA and Europeana networks, RightsStatements.org is a collaborative approach to rights statements that can be used to communicate the copyright status of cultural objects. As aggregators of cultural heritage materials, this work is key to both DPLA and Europeana, as we both seek to share clear and accurate information about copyright status with our users.
In this cooperative effort, we have built a flexible system of rights statements that allows our contributing cultural heritage partners, who hold the digital works, to clearly communicate to users what they can or cannot do with the objects they discover. Use of the statements also means that use of the data can become more standardized across the world.
There are three categories of rights statements: Statements for works that are in copyright, statements for works that are not in copyright, and statements for works where the copyright status is unclear. The statements provide users with easy to understand, high-level information about the copyright and re-use status of digital objects.
The rights statements have been designed with both human users and machine users, such as search engines, in mind, and are published as a linked data vocabulary. Each rights statement has its own Uniform Resource Identifier (URI).
The Digital Public Library of America plans to begin implementing these unique rights statements with our partners in the summer of 2016, and those efforts are expected to continue into 2017. Europeana will integrate the new rights statements into its existing Licensing Framework in the second half of 2016 after having consulted with their contributing institutions.
The work of the International Rights Statements Working Group has been funded in large part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The working group wishes to acknowledge and thank the Knight Foundation for support of this important work. Thanks also goes to the European Commission as the funder the Europeana DSI project, which facilitated this work.
Europeana is Europe’s digital platform for cultural heritage, collecting and providing online access to tens of millions of digitized items from libraries, archives, audiovisual collections and museums across Europe. It opens up access to over 50 million digital records from over 3,500 heritage organizations in 35 countries. These collections represent great thematic, language and media variety, from books, photos and paintings to television broadcasts and 3D objects. Europeana encourages and promotes the creative re-use of these vast cultural heritage collections in education, research, tourism and the creative industries.
The Digital Public Library of America strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. Since launching in April 2013, it has aggregated more than 13 million items from 1,900 institutions. The DPLA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit.
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