ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11 N4044

March 2001 - Singapore


Title:     Re-issue of the Call for Requirements for a Rights Data Dictionary and a Rights Expression Language
Source:  Requirements
Status:  Approved


Call for Requirements for a Rights Data Dictionary and a Rights Expression Language (Re-issue)




This Call for Requirements was first issued in January 2001 following the MPEG meeting in Pisa. A number of the submissions which were received in response to this Call requested that a longer period of time should be granted for responses to be submitted. This would enable those who wish to respond to have longer for consultation in order to prepare their requirements submission. In view of these requests MPEG has decided to re-issue the Call for Requirements until Friday, 1st June.  In addition, in order to progress the work and ensure the widest possible consultation, MPEG will be arranging an ‘ad-hoc’ meeting to be held on 7-8th June, in London, to which interested parties, including the submitters of responses, are invited to attend.

 Fourteen responses to the Call for Requirements from the January meeting in Pisa were received. These were assessed during the MPEG meeting held in Singapore during March and a list can be found in Annex A which is attached to this Call. Many of these responses contained substantial contributions which have been consolidated to construct a first draft of the requirements. This document is attached in Annex B for information and it is proposed that it will form the basis for further elaboration at the ‘ad-hoc’ meeting in London and finalized and approved at the next MPEG meeting in Sydney in July. All respondents to this Call for Requirements are welcome to attend this meeting, and to take part in the discussions.

 The London ‘ad-hoc’ meeting will be hosted by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) at their offices in London. Those who intend to attend the meeting are required to register their attendance no later than 25 May 2001with the coordinator:


Philippa Morrell (
54 Regent Street
London W1R 5RE
Tel: +44 20 7878 6801

Note: There is no facility fee for this meeting but for security and planning reasons, registration is obligatory.


Introduction to the Call for Requirements

 MPEG, a working group in ISO/IEC, has produced three important standards (MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4) and is working on MPEG-7 and MPEG-21. Extension work is ongoing on the ‘Intellectual Property Management and Protection’ (IPMP) specification in MPEG-4, with the goal to enhance interoperability in the consumption of protected content. The Content Description Standard MPEG-7 is in Final Committee Draft status, to be completed by the end of 2001. The ‘Multimedia Framework’ MPEG-21 standard is in an initial development phase, with the Requirements phase in an advanced stage and the first Call for Proposals issued in October 2000. MPEG has a long history in working with members of the creative industries and rights holders’ communities on the identification, management and protection of intellectual property carried on systems designed to MPEG specifications. This started with work on the MPEG-2 standard, which was finalized in the year 1994 and has continued throughout the development of MPEG-4. Participation is ongoing in MPEG-7, and these communities have been involved in MPEG-21 from its inception.

 MPEG has identified the need for a Rights Expression Language and a Rights Data Dictionary in the context of three of its standards:

·         MPEG-4, for the IPMP extension,

·         MPEG-7, to describe, as a part of content descriptions, the conditions to access content, and

·         MPEG-21, to achieve the goal of expressing rights for all Users of MPEG-21’s so-called ‘Digital Items’. (Users refers to both End Users and parties such as creators, producers, distributors, rights holders, etc.)

Note that ‘Rights’ is understood to include permissions.

 While MPEG has identified the need for such a language and dictionary, the requirements are not yet well enough understood to issue a Call for Proposals. Hence, MPEG is now asking interested parties and experts to submit requirements for this technology to MPEG, and invites these parties and experts to take part in the work. MPEG seeks these inputs by Friday, 1st June, in preparation for an MPEG ‘ad-hoc’ meeting to be held in London on 7-8th June 2001.  MPEG currently anticipates issuing a Call for Proposals, based on the collected Requirements, at its 57th meeting, in July 2001. Further timing will be decided when the requirements are better understood.

 Any input on these requirements is welcome, and submissions do not need to address both the language and the dictionary.  MPEG’s sees a Rights Data Dictionary as a dictionary of key terms which are required to describe rights of all Users, including intellectual property rights, that can be unambiguously defined using a standard syntactic convention, and which can be applied across all domains in which rights need to be expressed.  A Rights Expression Language is seen as a machine-readable language that can express rights and permissions using the terms as defined in the Rights Data Dictionary.

 Parties that are not familiar with MPEG are kindly requested to send their requirements, by email, to Rob Koenen (Chairman MPEG Requirements Group,) and Keith Hill (Leader of the MPEG-21 Requirements activity) by Friday 1 June, 23:59 hours GMT. The document type commonly used in MPEG is Microsoft Word, while plain text (ASCII) documents are also acceptable. If this would form a problem, then please contact Rob Koenen to work out an alternative way of submitting your requirements. Your contribution will be made available to all meeting participants, so that there can be an informed discussion. You will also be given the opportunity to present your requirements to the meeting.

 Those parties that are familiar with the MPEG process and have access to the FTP site are kindly asked to use the normal MPEG submission process, and notify Rob Koenen and Keith Hill about their submission by Friday 1 June, 23:59 hours GMT. Email is the preferred means of communication.

 Annex A to this Call for Requirements contains a short Problem Statement. An ‘Overview of Intellectual Property Management and Protection in MPEG’ is included for information as a separate attachment.

 Annex B contains the draft requirements as developed during the MPEG Singapore meeting in March based on the responses that had been received at that time. This should be considered to be a ‘work in progress’ that will continue to be refined using any further responses received as a result of the re-issue of this Call.

 Responses to the Call for Requirements are encouraged to be presented in the following format: 


The RDD-REL shall support all operations throughout the entire life cycle of Digital Items including creation, publishing, distribution, consumption, and invalidation/disposal.


A standard vocabulary and a consistent, ordered and machine-readable language is required for describing both the upstream and downstream rights associated with Digital Items. Management of Rights Descriptions will be more exact by addressing each stage of the life cycle of Digital Items and the respective roles of the Users. In this way each User can define each life cycle category of rights independently.


  • Creation - copyright information, neighbouring rights information, information of moral rights of the author.
  • Publishing - information about permission of rights and transfer of rights, Royalty information.
  • Distribution - price, usage rules.

 NB: The ‘Requirements’ part is always present, the Note(s) and Example(s) are optional.


Submitters are also encouraged to provide any additional information that might be relevant to support this requirements gathering work and to provide comments on the requirements as they have been defined so far in Annex B.


Keith Hill (Leader MPEG-21 Requirements activity)

Rightscom Limited

Tel: +44 (20) 7620 4433



Rob Koenen (Chairman MPEG Requirements Group)

InterTrust Technologies International

Tel: +1 (408) 855 6891



Annex A – Background Information and Problem Statement

 A number of recent projects and proposals for projects have recognised the need for standard ways of expressing information about intellectual property rights in the machine-to-machine network environment. These proposals have typically focused on a relatively small segment of the overall problem, such as usage permissions expressed by producers and publishers down the delivery and value chain (‘downstream rights’). Some parties believe that also being able to define and manage the rights of creators and their relationship with producers and publishers (‘upstream rights’) is a prerequisite for managing the downstream rights and permissions. Note that these are highly complex relationships, described here in a simple model to communicate the reason for this Call.

 To achieve the goal of being able to manage both upstream and downstream rights, it is necessary to develop a consistent, ordered and machine-readable language for describing the rights in intellectual property from the beginning. In this fashion, permissions for such actions as print, copy, play, etc., can be meaningfully implemented across the networked environment. For unless the rights granted by creators through contracts can be expressed in a machine-readable language, the downstream permissions granted to users through Digital Rights Management (DRM) processes will be limited by what can be conveyed on the basis of contractual databases that rely on a conversion of original paper-based expressions into local and probably proprietary machine readable languages.

 Furthermore, unless a standard language is developed, DRM systems will be forced to interpret contractual expressions from different origins describing the same types of rights in different terms. With the vast number of corporate rights holders in publishing, broadcasting and the still image industries, each with a different contract system, the lack of a standard language would cause contractual chaos.

 The fundamental issue is that rights do not operate in a discrete space. Not only is “rights management” a continuum from creator to user, media convergence mandates that rights management solutions must look beyond individual media sectors to cover the IP industries as a whole. The object-based MPEG-4 standard allows for the packaging of ‘digital objects’ of various types from many different sources, which suggests that an integrated approach is required. And as usage permissions innately rely on the original rights granted, unless there is a machine-readable continuum, it will be difficult to arrive at automated rights transactions.

 Since the beginning of 2000, a number of attempts have been made to develop a model that would bring together all interested parties in an effort to move rights management standardisation efforts forward, specifically to create an understanding of the “rights continuum”. The <indecs> project provided an underlying analysis of the generic requirements for rights management metadata. However, <indecs> could not fully complete the development of the model that built on this analysis.

 Recent developments within MPEG, and also within Open e-Book Forum (OeBF), indicate that the need to deal with the upstream rights issues is now more widely appreciated. One way to address these issues has been articulated within MPEG-21; this calls for the creation of an extensible dictionary and language for the expression of semantic sets of rights definitions.  This approach (described in the MPEG-21 documentation [1]) contains the following steps: 

1.       Adopt or extend existing rights expression languages, where appropriate, for describing contractual usage rules for Digital Items. Start from the work being done in MPEG-7, but develop new languages if needed.

2.       Expand these languages to allow the expression of rights and interests in personal data.

3.       Expand these languages to allow the expression of public policies and rules stemming from sources other than Rights Holders, such as governments and other relevant rule-making bodies. This work item may require more time than available in the first phase of the development of MPEG-21. As soon as time and resources are available, this item should be undertaken.

 Note that point 2 highlights the need for end users to be able to express their rights and interests. MPEG-21 lists this only as a possible approach; other approaches are also conceivable. A decision has not yet been taken, and the action plan in MPEG-21 will very much depend on the collected requirements.

 In addition to the issues with upstream rights articulated above, the public is growing increasingly concerned with issues of privacy and the use and abuse of personal information.  Clearly, the collective requirements must adequately address the rights of the full spectrum of all parties involved in the exchange or transfer of content, including end users, creators, publishers, producers, aggregators and distributors.

 Similar requirements have been identified in the context of MPEG-7 [2]:

 Usage rules - MPEG-7 shall contain Descriptors/Description Schemes that provide information on how content may be used.

Note: Such a feature may provide considerable consumer benefit by, for example, providing pre-purchase information. It may also enable different creative sectors to achieve interoperability between the providers of similar services. However, it should be noted that MPEG-7 cannot override the usage rules associated with the content itself which will be governed by the usage rules of its own management and protection system.

 Lastly, the need for a rights expression language using an appropriate dictionary has been flagged in the work on a more interoperable Intellectual Property Management and Protection (IPMP) specification for MPEG-4 [3].

 [1]     ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11 N3939, MPEG Requirements Group, MPEG-21 Proposed Draft Technical Report V.2, January 2001, Pisa MPEG meeting (

[2]     ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11 N3933, MPEG Requirements Group, MPEG-7 Requirements Document V.13, January 2001, Pisa MPEG meeting

[3]     ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11 N3543, MPEG Requirements Group, Call for Proposals for IPMP Solutions, July 2000, Beijing MPEG meeting


Annex B – N4045 Draft Requirements for a Rights Data Dictionary and a Rights Expression Language