The Cover PagesThe OASIS Cover Pages: The Online Resource for Markup Language Technologies
Advanced Search
Site Map
CP RSS Channel
Contact Us
Sponsoring CP
About Our Sponsors

Cover Stories
Articles & Papers
Press Releases

XML Query

XML Applications
General Apps
Government Apps
Academic Apps

Technology and Society
Tech Topics
Related Standards
Created: September 24, 2002.
News: Cover StoriesPrevious News ItemNext News Item

Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) Specification Submitted to W3C.

W3C has acknowledged receipt of the Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) Version 1.1 specification from IPR Systems, and has published the document as a W3C Note. The submission request and W3C Team Comment reference the possible chartering of a DRM/Rights Language activity within W3C, but no commitment has yet been made. The Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) "is a proposed language for the Digital Rights Management (DRM) community for the standardisation of expressing rights information over content. The ODRL is intended to provide flexible and interoperable mechanisms to support transparent and innovative use of digital resources in publishing, distributing and consuming of electronic publications, digital images, audio and movies, learning objects, computer software and other creations in digital form. The ODRL has no license requirements and is available in the spirit of 'open source' software." The ODRL specification is presented in four main sections: Section 2 describes the model for the ODRL expression language; Section 3 describes the semantics of the ODRL data dictionary elements; Section 4 describes the XML syntax used to encode the ODRL expressions and elements; Section 5 describes how additional ODRL data dictionaries can be defined. The Expression Language and Data Dictionary elements are formally defined in two normative appendices: Appendix A provides the ODRL Expression Language XML Schema and Appendix B gives the ODRL Data Dictionary XML Schema.

Bibliographic information: Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) Version 1.1. W3C Note-19-September 2002. Authored by: Renato Iannella (IPR Systems). Version URL: Latest version URL:

Suggested action (statement from the submission request): "After the success of the W3C Digital Rights Management (DRM) Workshop and in accordance with the next steps outlined in the Workshop Report, we suggest that a DRM Activity be proposed to the Consortium for the development of a Rights Language. The Rights Language Working Group would be Royalty-Free."

Rigo Wenning (W3C Privacy Activity Lead) noted in his comment: "A discussion over DRM in W3C was provided by the DRM-Workshop. It showed that the starting of a DRM Activity within W3C would require the investment for a considerable amount of resources, both, for the policy side as for the technical side of the overall task. Such an Activity would also require the participation from and liaison work with public interest representation like Creative Commons or the Library Community... [Other herein mentioned DRM standards initiatives do not] federate all the stakeholders and interested parties around one table. The library community, new initiatives like the Creative Commons, like Project Gutenberg or consumer-protection associations offer welcome user perspectives too often missing from the technical design discussions of rights management systems... In ODRL the distinction between rights and usages becomes visible when it comes to the exceptions from copyright. Those exceptions, like fair use in the common-law countries and private use in the Droit d'Auteur countries are not addressed in ODRL. This situation would have to be remedied if W3C were to charter a working group for a DRM-language based on ODRL and XMCL..." [see context]

From the W3C Team Comment on the ODRL Submission (see full text for other details):

W3C is pleased to receive the ODRL Submission from IPR Systems. ODRL is a well-known and very powerful language/protocol in the DRM Arena. It provides an XML-language for the expression of usages but also implements significant parts of the <indecs>-model, which allows to cover also use, selling and transfer of intangible and tangible goods. The <indecs>-model and thus ODRL also addresses re-use of works, which is a feature that goes far beyond the usual question of accessing some protected content. This allows rights expressions to accompany a certain work even in its iterations. It also allows the use of ODRL for the management of tangible goods (Assets) like Books by providing the appropriate metadata - framework. ODRL has a very broad scope. It is a nearly complete metadata-framework for authors and rightsholders which goes far beyond the simple expression of access rules.

The submission gives examples showing how to combine ODRL with other languages such as Dublin Core and OpenEbook, thus ODRL can combined with any XML language and enrich the metadata about permissions and usages linked to the object. As it can be combined with any XML, the Submission also shows how RDF-based languages like Dublin Core can be mixed in and how this can be integrated into the Semantic Web. At W3C's Workshop on DRM, which was co-chaired by the submitter, IPR-Systems asked for an overall framework-solution to the DRM-metadata issue using semantic web technologies. The submission of ODRL can be seen as a first step.

ODRL also contains a profile to use and integrate digital signatures and encryption by using XML Signature and XML Encryption.

From the Scope Statement:

ODRL complements existing analogue rights management standards by providing digital equivalents, and supports an expandible range of new services that can be afforded by the digital nature of the assets in the Web environment. In the physical environment, ODRL can also be used to enable machine-based processing for rights management.

ODRL is a standard language and vocabulary for the expression of terms and conditions over assets. ODRL covers a core set of semantics for these purposes including the rights holders and the expression of permissible usages for asset manifestations. Rights can be specified for a specific asset manifestation (ie format) or could be applied to a range of manifestations of the asset.

ODRL is focused on the semantics of expressing rights languages and definitions of elements in the data dictionary. ODRL can be used within trusted or untrusted systems for both digital and physical assets. However, ODRL does not determine the capabilities nor requirements of any trusted services (eg for content protection, digital/physical delivery, and payment negotiation) that utilises its language. Clearly, however, ODRL will benefit transactions over digital assets as these can be captured and managed as a single rights transaction. In the physical world, ODRL expressions would need an accompanying system with the distribution of the physical asset.

ODRL defines a core set of semantics. Additional semantics can be layered on top of ODRL for third-party value added services with additional data dictionaries.

ODRL does not enforce or mandate any policies for DRM, but provides the mechanisms to express such policies. Communities or organisations, that establish such policies based on ODRL, do so based on their specific business or public access requirements.

IPR statements from the Submission request [excerpts]: "IPR Systems hereby grants to the W3C, a perpetual, nonexclusive, royalty-free, world-wide right and license under any IPR Systems copyrights in this contribution to copy, publish and distribute the contribution under the W3C document licenses. Additionally, should the submission be used as a contribution towards a W3C Activity, IPR Systems grants a right and license of the same scope to any derivative works prepared by the W3C and based on, or incorporating all or part of, the contribution. IPR Systens further agrees that any derivative works of this contribution prepared by the W3C shall be solely owned by the W3C... IPR Systems agrees that, upon adoption of this submission as a W3C Recommendation, it will grant to any party a Royalty-Free licence under IPR Systems's applicable intellectual property rights essential to implement and use the technology proposed in the submission..."

Principal references:

Hosted By
OASIS - Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards

Sponsored By

IBM Corporation
ISIS Papyrus
Microsoft Corporation
Oracle Corporation


XML Daily Newslink
Receive daily news updates from Managing Editor, Robin Cover.

 Newsletter Subscription
 Newsletter Archives
Bottom Globe Image

Document URI:  —  Legal stuff
Robin Cover, Editor: