Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version


Document Type



International Rights Statements Working Group, October 2015 (updated January 2016)


Public domain


Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), and many other 1 2 libraries, archives and other cultural heritage institutions believe that everyone should be able to engage with their cultural heritage online. We can help achieve this by giving cultural heritage institutions simple and standardized terms to summarize the copyright status of Works in their collection and how they may be used. These simple and standardized terms we call “Rights Statements.” Providing this information is essential for those who wish to actively engage with the Works they find online. Can they use it in a school report? Print it on a tshirt? Integrate it into a commercial app? Currently, there is no global approach to rights statements that works for a broad set of institutions, leading to a confusing proliferation of terms. Simplifying the use and application of Rights Statements benefits both contributing organizations, which share their valuable collections online through aggregators such as Europeana and the DPLA, and the people who engage with those collections. Thus, we outline minimum, baseline standards for organizations contributing to the DPLA, Europeana and any other digital aggregator that adopts the standard. establishes the vocabulary that every organization can use to talk to their audiences about copyright and related rights in a meaningful way. It provides the technical and governance infrastructure to support their development and adoption, and ensure their ongoing relevance. In this paper, the product of a joint DPLA–Europeana Rights Statements Working Group, we recommend a series of Rights Statements that are simple, flexible and descriptive. We propose ten Rights Statements that the DPLA and Europeana partners can implement to communicate to users the copyright and related restrictions on use of Items in their collections. We propose to host these statements at, allowing each Item to which they are applied to be linked to the definitive explanation of its terms. The Rights Statements we recommend need to be understood by both machines and humans, making the concepts around copyright and related rights clear and understandable to all. By doing that, we can educate and encourage people to use cultural heritage material to the fullest extent possible while respecting copyright and related restrictions on reuse. The recommendations outlined in this document support a framework that promotes appropriate use of collections held by cultural heritage institutions through openness, accuracy, simplicity and clarity. The simple, flexible framework advocates for the uniform description of baseline copyright status information that is easily translatable for people and machines. This group intends that this document be a call to action for institutions to implement these statements locally and to begin the work of educating their users and enhancing their abilities to reuse Works in their collections more broadly.

The Rights Statements Working Group of the International Rights Statement Working Group is cochaired by E mily Gore, Director of Content for DPLA, and P aul Keller, Director of Kennisland & Copyright Advisor to Europeana, with members: Greg Cram , Associate Director of Copyright & Intellectual Property, New York Public Library Julia Fallon , IPR and Policy Advisor, Europeana Lucie Guibault , Associate professor, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam Karen Estlund, Associate Dean for Technology and Digital Strategies, Penn State University Libraries David Hansen , Assistant Clinical Professor & Faculty Research Librarian, UNC School of Law Antoine Isaac , R&D Manager, Europeana Tom Johnson , Metadata & Platform Architect, DPLA Melissa Levine , Lead Copyright Officer, University of Michigan Library Mark A. Matienzo , Director of Technology, DPLA Patrick Peiffer , Digital Librarian, Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg Amy Rudersdorf , Assistant Director of Content, DPLA Richard J. Urban, Assistant Professor, Florida State University College of Communication & Information Maarten Zeinstra , Technical Coordinator, Europeana Licensing Framework, Kennisland Matt Lee , Technical Lead, Creative Commons Diane Peters , General Counsel, Creative Commons