Introduction to Structured Rights Information: a conversation about Rights Statements

Published in
27 min readJul 17, 2020


Unknown author, “Fiesta de Carnaval. Explanada del Parque Hotel (Montevideo, Uruguay)” — Digitized by Centro de Fotografía de Montevideo desde el original, Public Domain.

On May 28 we held a webinar with Fred Saunderson, Julia Fallon, Michael Kemezis and Heidi Raatz.

The event was organized by the Copyright Community at Europeana, Open GLAM and the Special Interest Group on Intellectual Property at the Museum Computer Network.

Here is an edited version of the conversation, organized in a set of questions. We want to thank everyone who joined the call for bringing so many interesting questions!

How would you explain Rights Statements to someone that doesn’t know anything about them but has been tasked with implementing them at their institution? What are the benefits and possible disadvantages?

Julia: We created Rights Statements to solve a problem at Europeana a long time ago. We found that the DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) had the same problem. That moved forward for a couple of years and became the Rights Statements Consortium. The problem we were trying to solve is that we were trying to apply Creative Commons licenses to digital objects that were being shared through our services as European and American aggregators, and we actually found that we couldn’t accurately apply Creative Commons tools and licenses in a whole range of scenarios.

We really very strongly believe in opening up collections, but also respecting rights and rights holders. And we needed to enable cultural heritage institutions to represent the rights, the restrictions, and the permissions that they had been granted, while being able to share those digital objects. Rights Statements provide a solution to cultural heritage institutions who want to share their digital objects online and who are unable to apply a standardized tool or license like Creative Commons. In some cases they can’t be applied, for example, because the institution doesn’t have the rights holder permission to grant or apply a Creative Commons license.

Mt. Mitchell Station, Mt. Mitchell, N.C., in the public domain, digitized by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill — landing photo of the website.

Some of you made progress using the Statements in your own institutions. What inspired you to start using Right Statements?

Fred: At the National Library of Scotland, our trajectory with rights labelling was essentially to have “all rights reserved” statements to start with, when we were first testing the waters. We fell into that almost as a default, and then we moved quite quickly into using CC licenses with all of our content in an endeavor to be more open. We started with the quite closed versions, though―so, non-commercial elements and sharealike, and then slowly moving toward CC-BY more frequently.

I guess there were two reasons why we wanted to move towards something like Rights Statements, if not Rights Statements themselves. First, the legal, or perhaps ethical, around whether there are actually rights in the digitizations. We’re all really dealing with this question. In the UK there’s quite a lot of debate around producing digitizations of material that is in the public domain. Putting a Creative Commons license at all on that content is, to say the least, debatable, and not necessarily the most helpful for our users.

That was one side, and I think the second side was what Julia was saying: it doesn’t actually help us to convey what we really want to convey to apply a copyright license to a lot of these things. A lot of the issues that we want to convey actually have to do with, in our case, ownership issues of the original content. A lot of materials we hold are collections that are held on deposit or one loan with restrictions on the physical material. These have nothing to do with intellectual property rights. And there are very valid reasons why the people who actually own the physical content maybe just either don’t want them used for particular things or they want particular attributions to be provided. That’s nothing to do necessarily with owning the intellectual property, if there even is any, in the underlying content.

That’s nothing that a Creative Commons or any copyright license can do, because it’s not a copyright issue. We really moved towards Rights Statements because it offers so many opportunities to convey this; to say, for example, that an item is out of copyright but subject to limitations on commercial use, which is a very common one. It also allowed us to communicate much more honestly about how clear we actually were about the rights status of our content. That’s really important, being a lot more open-minded towards making this clear to people. Rights status may be very complicated and we might not know the status, we might not have assessed the status, or been able to assess the status, of every single item in great detail. At the National Library we’ve got millions of items in our collection, and we’re looking at the collection-level, and it’s not always possible to say we’ve been certain of everything at a particular stage for a particular item, or the integrated content in a work, the multiple authors, and so on, in a work. So to be able to give uncertainty statements is really helpful because it allows us to push the boundaries a bit more and make content available that we maybe wouldn’t feel comfortable making available if we had to say, “we know 100% that this is in the public domain” or “100% this is copyright of XYZ person.” The inspiration for us was really that it gave a way to communicate more honestly, and it allowed us therefore to push the boat quite a lot more than we would have done otherwise.

Stefano della Bella (1610–1664), “The Two Turkish Merchants”, in the Public Domain, Mia Collections.

Heidi: That’s really similar to our experience where if you look at it there are several different layers. There is our content, which would be our digital image content, our 3-D scans, our program and other resource content we share. It’s much more clear how to use CC licenses to share that content. But what we’re dealing with, what we’re looking to Rights Statements to do and how we’re using it at Mia, is about the object. It’s about trying to communicate as clearly as possible to our users what the rights status in that work is, the work depicted in our content. We are trying to answer those basic questions for the users: Can I use this? and How can I use this?

In terms of inspiration―I looked through my notes, and I was already looking at Rights Statements back in 2015 when, as Julia mentioned, Europeana and DPLA were trying to find a solution to a huge problem. The first time I heard someone from DPLA speak about the problem was Emily Gore, who gave a keynote at the Visual Resources Association conference in 2015. At that point DPLA was wrestling with 26,000 different unique rights statements. That’s a nightmare from the perspective of a content aggregator but also from the user perspective. Someone who’s just trying to look at aggregated content and figure out: “How can I use this? Can I use this?” The Rights Statements framework is this really elegant top-level solution to try to address those questions for end users.

The system we were previously using in-house at Mia to communicate the rights we had, or rights we knew about in our collection objects, was a little clunky to say the least. So I was already trying to figure out ways to make this better communicated and more usable for everyone; not only for myself as someone who manages rights on the content but also for the end users, to be able to present rights information clearly to them. End users meaning both our internal audience, people within the museum wanting to use the content, and people using our content via our collections website.

Julia: It’s really interesting to hear your explanations of why you’re using Rights Statements, listening to what was happening in our European and American experiences. We have to reflect this range of scenarios you can experience when you are trying to figure out how to convey what it is you want to convey. And there are some real differences just even back then, looking at the difference between how you addressed issues, conveyed these permissions and restrictions and rights, and how our American counterparts also dealt with some of the rights clearance and wanted to convey that as well as part of it. But what we did when we designed them was to follow the approach of trying to address where there were commonalities that worked across different regions’ approaches. Then we broke it down into three different areas: statements that addressed works that were in copyright and the different types of “in copyright” expressions you might want to convey; works that are out of copyright but might represent different types of restrictions such as other legal restrictions that exist, certainly in Europe, or may convey donor restrictions, for example; and the wonderful category of statements which basically conveys the absence of rights research or information. I’m not going to speak right now about whether we recommend or not that statement, but what we did was we recognized there was a need for various institutions to be able to convey that they were not, or had not fully satisfied their understanding of the rights and permissions they needed to share digital objects online, and therefore they needed a range of ways to express that.

Playground of the Home and Colonial Infant School Society, London. Wood engraving, c. 1840. CC BY, by the Wellcome Collection.

What is the relationship between Rights Statements and Creative Commons licenses and tools? Are they complementary? How do you use them both?

Julia: At Europeana we offer a selection of statements in our standardized suite. In our legal framework we invite our partners, our cultural heritage institutions, to submit their data always with a mandatory rights element. They can choose from 14 different options and they can choose from either all of the Creative Commons tools and licenses or a selection of those provided by that suit our European legal environment. For example, we have orphan works here, which is not present in other countries.

We invite institutions to fill that field, and then we have a validation process to encourage and motivate institutions to double-check their own understandings of the Rights Statements or the Creative Commons licenses, to ensure that the users are really being given the correct and the best information. We’ve got really challenging issues to address in terms of rights information, and the application of this rights information layer, whether it’s Creative Commons or Rights Statements, has been increasing and improving in terms of accuracy and quality over the years. At Europeana we try to make it really super clear, and it’s something that as a consortium advocates, that if you have the rights, if you have the permissions, you should apply Creative Commons licenses. They’re the best way to make it really easy for users to automatically use the work. If something is in the public domain it should be labeled as public domain. But if you are not able to do those things, you have a suite available through That is the advice we give people.

Categories of RightsStatements.

Heidi: We’re using both. It’s not a dichotomy, it’s not an either/or situation to use Rights Statements or Creative Commons. We use Creative Commons for our own content, for content that we know is ours and we can freely share. Right now we’re primarily using CC-BY because we like our content attributed to us, we like people to come back to us as the source of that content. Although I know we also have a team that’s working on open access initiatives and we have been talking about releasing more things with the CC0 dedication. For example, SketchFab recently made it possible to share 3D models with a CC0 license, so we switched our content there to CC0. We think of this as kind of layered. We are using Rights Statements to tell people what we know about the rights status of the works, and we use Creative Commons licenses for sharing our own content: our digital images, our 3D scans, our programs and resources that we share on our museum website.

And I think these two tools work really super well together. They work great in harmony. For all of our public domain content, content we’ve identified as in the universal public domain, we use the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark. And that was, again, the recommendation from Rights Statements; that you either use CC0 for public domain content, or you use the Public Domain Mark. So that was the decision that we took on that, all of that content is free to use for whatever purpose people want to use it for.

Michael: We don’t offer 13 statuses, we only offer six. Five rights statements and one public domain from CC. We wanted to reduce the confusion about all of this kind of rights questions because we work with a whole bunch of institutions in Connecticut, about 45 of them, and we always got questions about copyright, CC licenses, what do they really mean and how do I use them. So when we implemented them for the first time we only implemented six statuses to choose from. Like Heidi said, it’s not either/or, they work very well together, and we found that out as well. So that’s what we did, like what everyone else is doing but on a little different scale.

Heidi: I know Minnesota Digital Library, who we work with as our content hub for DPLA, also uses a smaller set of the Rights Statements. I believe they also use six statements. At Mia, we’re actually using 12 of the statements. That “Other” category of Rights Statements, the “We don’t know.” bucket or the “We don’t know enough.” bucket has been amazingly helpful in the context in which we use Rights Statements. There are a lot of times where there is this granularity of information we have or don’t have about objects. With Rights Statements you have the ability to assign statements like “no known copyright” or “copyright not evaluated” or “copyright undetermined”, and it has been really great for us to have those statements. With RightsStatements we now have a standard way of saying “We’re not sure, but we’re looking into it.” So it took us from this place where we kind of had either “In Copyright” or “Public Domain” when we all know that it’s far more granular than that, it’s much more complex. Having the ability to break down some of that granularity has been really helpful from my perspective, as someone who manages rights on behalf of our museum.

Fred: Some of the points Heidi was raising were so relevant for us as well. It’s really clear for me and for what we’re doing, the differences and linkages between Rights Statements and CC licenses or any other licenses. It’s simply that Rights Statements are statements about the rights situation, and, to an extent, exactly what you maybe have done about the rights status, what you understand about the rights status, what you maybe will be doing in the future. It’s information about that, and it’s not about giving permission to rights that you own. A Creative Commons license is a copyright license, and it’s a way to give copyright permission to somebody else for rights that you own.

Our framework is completely built around the two different layers. You would put a Creative Commons license on something that is in copyright and to which you either own the rights or you have permission to sublicense from the people who own the rights and you’re able to issue that Creative Commons license. And otherwise we would use the public domain mark or one of the Rights Statements.

In terms of the usefulness of different statements, we have accepted, or rather we have not rejected necessarily, using any of the statements other than ones that, for example, are U.S.-specific. But we’ve not trimmed down the list because that diversity is of importance. One of the ones we’re going to be making use of, because we’re rolling the system out, is the one that’s called “rights holder undetermined “unlocated”, I don’t remember the exact words.

We are going to use this “unlocatable” in particular for older unpublished works. In the UK, most unpublished works remain in copyright until the year 2040, no matter how old they are. So if we’ve got a medieval manuscript, for example, that we’ve digitized and made available, it may technically be unpublished under UK copyright law and will technically be in copyright. We still want to communicate about this, we want to be honest and clear to people that it’s technically in copyright. We honestly cannot work out who owns that copyright after 500 years, and this Rights Statement is a nice tool to say that. Obviously we have to put some explainer text around that, because it might be quite confusing to people, but I think that’s more honest than just saying it’s in the public domain because, strictly speaking, it’s not.

Heidi: We use that statement (In Copyright — Rights Holder Unlocatable) as well, and we’re using that statement for where Europeana uses the orphan works statement. Since there is not a formal orphan works legislation in the US, we can’t really use the orphan works statement. So for that we use the “rights holder unlocatable” statement when we have been able to determine that in all likelihood the work is in copyright, but we’re not able to contact anyone to be able to clear additional rights.

Julia: To add to that, I think one of the ways this then becomes really, really valuable, is when you are also looking at providing your data through APIs, at scale. Since these statements, like Rights Statements, like Creative Commons, are standardized, it means they’re also interoperable. So they will really allow users to parse the data and connect it in all sorts of super clever and creative ways.

One of the things that we’re developing over the past couple of years is multilingual statements. That’s certainly something that’s very relevant in Europe, and it really affects the uptake of them. You’ll find that if your objects are being accessed in a number of countries in Europe, even in India (we have the statements published in Hindi now), if your objects are being accessed in India by someone who has their browser settings set to Hindi, and they want to read more about the rights statement, they will see it in Hindi. They will see it in their language of choice. And we don’t have full coverage of all languages, but we are making progress, and it’s a community effort as well, which is really, really interesting. So they also bring different dimensions to the work and how you can use rights information to improve the accessibility of your data.

Michael: To talk about the interoperability part of it, we adopted Rights Statements in February, without realizing DPLA was also working on a Wikimedia bridge connection that requires Rights Statements to be a part of all the objects. So that’s a great example of something we did with an eye to the future without realizing what exact project would use it, but when we went to the webinar that DPLA organized with their Wikimedian in Residence and they said “you need rights statements on your objects”, we had half of that already done. It sets you up to do these things that you might not anticipate, but the whole standardization of rights statements opens up a whole bunch of different possibilities for your content. The interoperability part, for us, and I think for everyone, is super important. And that’s kind of an example that I’m pointing to to people that say, “Why would you do this? Why do we want interoperability?”. Beside of all the reasons, this is also a great project that we now can do, and that we don’t need to do any extra work for because we already did it.

Heidi: That interoperability piece was another thing that was on my radar back when this framework was being built, because at the same time I was co-chair of VRA’s Data Standards Committee, so I was already focused on interoperable standards for sharing. We have been sharing our content with DPLA via the MDL hub, so our rights information had already been going through that way. I also attended the DPLA webinar Mike mentioned, where they introduced their partnership with Wikimedia. I was immediately on the phone with the folks that were involved with that presentation, saying: “Hey, we already have our stuff with rights statements, we’re ready to go, tell us how we can contribute to this”. It just makes everything so much more seamless for getting your content out there and making sure it’s shareable.

How do you implement and display the Statements in your CMS or online platforms? How do you make them user-friendly for a user that is about to use your content?

(Question from the public).

Heidi: At Mia, the decision that we ended up taking after a lot of consideration and data mapping was to replace the statements that we had been using in our CMS for what’s called the “object rights type”. We adopted the Rights Statements as our new object rights types, which means that that data automatically syncs to our image assets. That process was already in place to sync that data to the image assets in our DAMS (Mia uses MediaBin), and then this also gets picked up by our API. After that, it goes out on our collections website. Rights Statements prefers institutions store the URIs locally, but we weren’t really able to do that within our CMS. The URI is connected up when the data gets out to our collection website, it picks up the URI and that is then part of the display information that goes along with the collections objects.

One example of how Mia displays the “In Copyright” statement.
An example for a work that it’s in the public domain.

If you were to click on the link on the “Rights” section, it would go out to for more information. That’s the URI. Also linked here is our copyright image access and use policy, I think it’s also really important to make sure that you have this piece in place regardless of what standard you are using. Our web team designed a feature where you can find more items in our collection that have the same rights type, so it’s kind of an “explore” feature.

Mike: Some of this is telling of how important Rights Statements are, and how widely they are being adopted. We use the Islandora software for our repository, which has a module to display the Rights Statements logos on all the pages, based on your metadata. We haven’t implemented it yet, but that work has already been done. Islandora software is being used by around 200 institutions around the world and there’s already a way to do that. That goes to show how important and widely adopted those kind of stuff is being thought about and used.

For us it’s all metadata, it’s all about making sure that we have the standards for being interoperable with other systems: send it to DPLA, enable those kind of display options. Any faceting and finding other objects that have the same rights status, as one thing to be looking at, it’s really important for us. And our software already allows you to do that. So, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel here for an open source repository program. The Rights Statements is not just in the metadata, it’s also on the metadata display. And you can facet on these Rights Statements, you can make views on these RS, you can make targeted searches on these Rights Statements. So for us it’s all about the metadata, and figuring out the metadata profile for us was a big piece, along with the education.

Julia: I’m listening to this and I’m just thinking: “wow, all this sounds fantastic”. I want to talk to Mike more about this fantastic implementation, and I’d really recommend you check out Mia’s implementation and follow the links, because they are actually really creative. Whenever I’m talking about Rights Statements I use them as an example, and kudos to their design team for being so creative in the way in which they are using rights information to encourage users to explore other works with similar or the same rights information as well. I think it presents information really nicely to me.

At Europeana, we follow a very standard approach, where we just make sure that the rights information is always located very closely or directly underneath the object where we display it on our sites. It’s a standard way in which you can search in different ways around rights information, you just search our API using Rights Statements. But I just wanted to say I really loved hearing all these stories and examples on how they are being used, so thank you so much for sharing.

Where is the best place to display the Rights Statements?

(Question from the public).

Heidi: For us, it’s important to ensure that the Rights Statements is as near to the display of the collection object as possible, so that people can find that information easily. The Rights Statements gets combined with other information we manage about rights in our CMS. For instance, if there’s a copyright credit line that needs to accompany the image reproduction, all of that is together so that in display it all goes along with the collection work. One of the things with the example I provided is that the image file size we are sharing is reduced. It’s a smaller size, and that’s based in some business rules behind the scenes. With that particular Rights Statements, within the “In Copyright” Rights Statements, it tells the system to only display the thumbnail size and always make sure that the copyright credit line goes along with the image. Again, I tend to think of the Rights Statements themselves as part of layered information about the rights that are in the object, both rights that we have, and the rights that we know about the object, and how we can share it. That all goes together.

An example from the Science History Institute of a work using the “Non-Commercial use permitted”, shared by one member of the public.
An example of the location of the “In Copyright” Rights Statements on an item displayed on DPLA, shared by someone from the public.

How do you mark metadata in terms of Rights Statements and/or CC licenses and tools?

(Question from the public)

Mike: That was one of the big things that we had, because there are so many standards. DPLA has a standard, Rights Statements also has some standards and some white papers, the Society of American Archivists also has some white papers and some standards. All of them are close, but in the end we took all of them and mashed them together a little bit. We have the thinking that standards are great until they don’t really work for us. Not to say that we went totally out of the reservation here and did something super crazy, but we configured it in such a way that we don’t have too much post-production work to get it to work. For example, we didn’t have to re-index all of our content for all of these Rights Statements to appear for all of our new content. So we can fit it in our current metadata profile, wiggled it around a little bit, and that worked best for us.

Islandora, our CMS, uses the MODS standard. So we use the MODS standard and the access condition element has the Rights Statements with the URI in it. As part of the project for implementing Rights Statements, we had a lot of people ask us about: “what about local use statements? How do people contact those if they want to get reproductions of this?”, so we also introduced a “local use” field, which is where we went off-script a little bit, and created our own type of access conditions. But that lives only in our repository. We’re balancing out the interoperability and sending this particular Rights Statements into an unknown field, but also helping our users get the information that they want to get across as well. There could be a problem where you have a Rights Statements that says the work is in the public domain but then the local use statement says “we own the copyright to this”.

We are on the lookout for that, it’s kind of trust people know what they’re doing. But that’s a risk that we’re willing to take to make our metadata profile work within standards, which was difficult for us. It was more difficult that I thought it would be, because we have over 1.5 million objects in the repository, and we just can’t go around making a new field for everything, and then trying to figure out how to do that again.

The Connecticut Digital Archive also developed an interactive copyright guide to help the members of their consortium to decide which Rights Statements apply. The interactive guide is based on Gabriel Galson’s flowchart.

Metadata it’s worth a good, long think about, and a good, long discussion with other experts, or other people that work with metadata, about how they do it. Again, everyone does it a little differently even in the Islandora community. People in Western Canada do it differently than we do, they put the actual URI to the Rights Statements in the element of the field, they don’t put it in the xpath. We put it in the actual element itself, and then say “In Copyright”, with a link in the actual tag itself. So people do it in little different ways. We have come up with a good way to do it, it’s not completely crazy where no one knows what we’re doing, but balancing interoperability of part of the wider community with the needs of your users. We have a lot of users, and that’s important in finding the middle path there, which was more difficult than I thought. I thought that we were going to say: “hey everyone, we’re going to do it this one way”, and it didn’t work like that. So that’s a big chunk of it, it’s how do you make sure that you can use this in a way that makes sense.

If someone in this call is thinking of adopting/implementing CC licenses and Rights Statements, what does the process look like? Did you have to do a lot of convincing or did you have any allies in your organization to get this implemented? Were there any difficult steps to go through? What’s your experience?

Heidi: My experience has been one of continuing to bring up the conversation. It was 2015 when these things started to come up on my radar, and figuring out ways to bring up the conversation and talk about how it met our museum mission, how it fit in with strategic goals.

For me the catalyst was going from something in theory to something in action. We had a little bit of a restructuring in my division, in Media & Technology, that resulted in the creation of a new department, Collections Information Management. During that process, I took on more responsibilities that are directly related to our CMS and the content there, and that was an opportunity to present implementing Rights Statements as a project.

Implementing Rights Statements was something I proposed as a project goal saying, “I want to do this so I can manage our rights data more efficiently and also so that our end-users can answer those questions by themselves, “Can I use it?, How can I use it?”, and it served our museum’s mission by letting everyone engage with our digital online content.

From there it was a matter of working to identify internal partners, the head of my department and the head of our division, talking with our web team, in particular about how things would display, with our visual resources team, in terms of how the data would sync and how it would affect our image assets. So a lot of collaboration and internal team work to actually get everything in action. And for myself, my role has primarily been focused in doing the data mapping and all the documentation of the standard and its application guidelines for how we are using things internally.

Mike: Since we are more of a consortium of 45 members and it’s growing all the time, we called for a working group of interested members to meet and explore these questions of the Rights Statements, how to use them, and CC came out of that too as they were searching. The committee came back to us, the CTDA, and to me and my supervisor Greg Colatti, who was all about this, even back in 2015. But it took us a while to get to the point where we could do it.

They came back with recommendations about what to use and this is how we got to the six statements that we offer, and for the version one of our release. When this group of seven or eight people met in early 2019, they came back with that document. And this speaks to what Heidi was saying, it was made as a project goal, and so it got pulled into my list as a project goal to do, and I had time to actually do it in this last half of last year. We took that information from our community, of what would work for them, and then we figured out how to make that actually work technically.

I had buy in, there was no pushback, everyone loved it, it’s great, it fits in the University of Connecticut Library with their Open Access that it’s already going on within our research instruction department. It was really easy, it was a matter of sitting down and doing it.

We had a really great time, it was really good conversation. Greg Cram came in and spoke about two years ago about this, and our community got really fired up, and the working group started right after that. We got like ten or twelve people that were super interested in this and made the recommendations. So community input is our big thing. We were lucky to have a lot of interested people to do the leg work and get it all up for us.

Heidi: Yes! I was also in touch with my colleagues at Minnesota Digital Library, figuring out this process too. As I mentioned we are a content contributor there. The Minnesota Digital Library is like Connecticut [Digital Library], as Mike was explaining, they work as a consortium, and they are in the process now of implementing Rights Statements for a lot of their other content partners. In the end we ended up working in parallel rather than in direct collaboration, but they were great resource partners and information partners along the way.

Julia: Over at Europeana, what we did with our partners (we work with about 3,000 institutions across Europe) is that we make expressing rights information a mandatory element. It’s one of the basic elements you need to feed to our system when you share digital objects or metadata with us. The nature, the composition over the years has changed, but it’s a mandatory element. And that has sparked a different number of conversations with providers, they are known as hubs in the US. What we have found recently however, actually, the efforts to undertake translations have been a real tool to open up the conversations with partners, who are keen to understand in their local language what these statements mean, how they can use them, how they can have these conversations with their colleagues. It’s also really heartening to hear your experiences in having these conversations internally, because I think that it will be something that our European institutions will also learn from, because now they have the ability in a lot of countries too to have these conversations easily in their local languages.

Flyer of the talk.

Any final thoughts or comments?

Julia: I had just one question that I saw answered. Someone asked in the conversation if you change the statements when a work enters the public domain during the course of publishing a statement. You should change the statement if you can, but there’s actually an interesting example in SMK in Denmark, who have actually build this into their CMS. I don’t know how common this is, and they have been undertaking a huge digital transformation operation, rebuilding their platforms and their back ends, so they have included the author’s information, their date of death, into their object collection, so it automatically rolls over. The API conveys the change of information and matching rights information. For me is dream if that actually would become something that was more commonplace in the sector. So if you have any examples like these, please do share them with me. At Europeana we have a copyright community that Ariadna Matas runs and we’d love to hear examples like that. I think that the more you do that, the easier it is for institutions to advocate for functionalities like that, which then reduces the administration of managing these rights in the long term.

Heidi: I think I need to have a conversation with them! Because as I mentioned, our RightsStatements are built into our CMS, so when something changes its copyright status, it’s very easy to go into the record for the object and then change the object rights type and then we track additional data, any kind of supporting information for why we have assigned that particular rights statement to that object. We can track that information in “restrictions” fields and if the work has entered the public domain we have some standard ways of expressing that. That’s something I run at the beginning of each year, I spend some time flipping rights statutes for works that have entered the public domain. But I’d love for that to be automated.

Mike: That’s the dream! I think that’s the reason why we are doing this.

We organize webinars on the last Thursday of every month — keep an eye out for updates! And if you’re interested, DPLA is running a Rights Statements 101 webinar on July 22.

This is a transcription from the talk ‘Introduction to Structured Rights Information’ by Julia Fallon, Fred Saunderson, Mike Kemezis and Heidi Raatz. It has been lightly edited; you can access the original recording here.

Fred Saunderson is Rights and Information Manager at the National Library of Scotland and chairs the UK Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA). He is also a member of the Copyright Evidence Wiki editorial board at the University of Glasgow’s CREATe copyright research centre.

Julia Fallon is the chair of the RightsStatements consortium. At Europeana, she is the manager of the Community and Partner Engagement Team — together they support the development of professionals and organizations working in and around digital cultural heritage. Together they lead the development of their digital programme & a knowledge hub of events, webinars and resources all supporting the sector in their digital transformation journey. Also passionate about supporting emerging professionals & advocating for inclusive and diverse conversations.

Michael Kemezis is the Repository Manager at the Homer Babbidge Library at the University of Connecticut, and he is responsible for the Connecticut Digital Archive, where he leads the implementation of Creative Commons and Rights Statements tools.

Heidi Raatz is the former Collections Information Specialist at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), where she also served as the museum’s Rights & Reproductions officer. Heidi led the museum’s implementation of the Rights Statements standard, aiming to clarify what website users can do with the art images Mia shares.

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute legal advice nor does it refer to any particular or specific situation. If you have any doubts about your specific situation, you should consult with a lawyer.




openglam, digitization, open licensing stuff