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Last modified: June 20, 2001
Digital Property Rights Language (DPRL)

The Digital Property Rights Language (DPRL) "is a computer-interpretable language, developed at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center under the leadership of Mark Stefik. DPRL is intended to support commerce in digital works, that is, publishing and selling electronic books, digital movies, digital music, interactive games, computer software and other creations distributed in digital form. [DPRL] is also intended to support specification of access and use controls for secure digital documents in cases where financial exchange is not part of the terms of use. One of the goals of DPRL in digital property rights is to develop an approach and language that can be used throughout the publishing industries and other industries as well."

"Xerox DPRL is an XML based syntax for specify the terms and conditions governing the use of a digital content. . . designed to be very flexible in order to support a wide variety of business models. . ." [Xerox ContentGuard Software Development Kit (SDK) documentation]. Version 2.00 of the DPRL specification, as documented in Digital Property Rights Language. Manual and Tutorial - XML Edition, ('November 13, 1998', review version ) provides a provisional XML encoding: "Usage rights specifications are represented using the element/attribute markup model of eXtensible MarkUp Language(XML). Collectively, the markup tags indicate what rights are in effect on a digital work." The formal grammar is presented in Appendix B (Grammar for the Digital Property Rights Language) in the form of an XML 'work specification' DTD.

"DPRL is used to specify fees, terms and conditions governing the use of digital content. DPRL is extremely flexible and supports multiple business models and rights protection policies, giving publishers the flexibility they need for their current and future businesses. DPRL supports multiple pricing models: subscription-based, outright purchase, purchase of individual rights (view, print, copy, edit, etc.), metered usage, time-based usage, and membership pricing. DPRL defines syntax for specifying rights for a digital document. Rights such as 'play,' 'print,' 'copy,' 'edit,' etc. can be grouped into named 'rights groups'."

"The design goals for DPRL are: (1) To describe rights, fees, and conditions appropriate for the commerce models that are important to publishers and consumers in digital publishing. (2) To provide standard terms for usage rights specifications that have useful, concise and easily understandable meanings. (3) To provide operational definitions of specifications for vendors of trusted systems that distribute or render digital works, so that the compliance of systems can be tested and evaluated. (4) To provide a basis of extensibility to new language features in a manner that does not unduly compromise the other goals."

"DPRL describes distinct categories of uses for digital works in terms of 'rights,' including rights to copy a digital work, or to print it out, or to loan it, or to use portions of it in derivative works. Digital property rights (or 'usage rights' for short) are rights associated with digital works and their parts that describe how the works can be used. Here are some basic concepts:

  • Rights are associated with parts of a digital work (and with folders).
  • Every class of usage right has a corresponding transaction.
  • The transaction defines what a repository does when the right is exercised.
  • Rights are described in sentences of a machine-interpreted language having a grammar.
  • The transactions for a given work are parameterized by the information in the usage rights sentences for the work.
  • The rights on a work can be changed later, if the change is authorized by the rights owner."

DPRL is now implemented in a ContentGuard product suite, based on the DPRL research developed at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox-PARC). ContentGuard provides: (1) a publisher - that converts documents from many popular file formats to encrypted Self-Protecting Documents; (2) a 'marketplace' - an online storefront that can be integrated with popular e-commerce servers; (3) rights server - back office server for handling all operations associated with ongoing rights tracking and enforcement; (4) Software Development Kit (SDK) - ContentGuard SDK is an integrated set of tools supporting the two key innovations from Xerox: The Xerox Digital Property Rights Language (DPRL) and Xerox Self Protecting Documents (SPD)."


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