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Created: July 09, 2004.
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DCMI Usage Board Announces Approval of Metadata Terms for Digital Rights Declaration.


The Usage Board of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) has announced approval of the rights-related terms "License" and "Rights Holder" in machine-readable metadata declarations.

The proposed standard of practice for encoding formal rights declarations identifying IP owners and machine-readable licenses provides a basis for distributed de-centralized rights management systems. Use of Dublin Core specifications and Creative Commons licenses involves no royalty or usage fee, as is true also for the XML-based Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL).

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is "an open forum engaged in the development of interoperable online metadata standards that support a broad range of purposes and business models." The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set is a standard for cross-domain information resource description, implemented in markup languages perhaps more widely than any other metadata specification. Version 1.1 has been endorsed as ISO Standard 15836-2003, NISO Standard Z39.85-2001, and CEN Workshop Agreement CWA 13874.

The new DCMI term "license" is an element-refinement for "rights" and provides for reference of a legal document giving official permission to do something with the resource. The DCMI recommended best practice is to identify the license using a URI. Examples of such licenses can be found at the Creative Commons web site.

The new term "rightsHolder" identifies a Rights Holder as a person or organization owning or managing rights over the resource. The DCMI Recommended best practice for this element is to use the URI or name of the Rights Holder to indicate the entity.

The proposal for adding new DCMI rights terms articulates a goal of supporting standard practice concerning rights declarations on the Internet. The design especially recognized that "the recent emergence of the Creative Commons as a clearinghouse for rights declarations affords an opportunity to improve standard practice, particularly for resources that have been developed with the intention of cost-free distribution, but whose creators wish to formally declare various rights." The authors believe that both Creative Commons proponents and Dublin Core adopters "will benefit by having a clear approach to formal rights declaration in a widely adopted metadata framework on the Internet."

A growing collection of open source software tools supports the creation of Creative Commons machine-readable licenses and embedding of license metadata within digital objects. Machine-readable license claims in markup format are supported by parsers, tagging tools, an online validator, and a Creative Commons search engine. Documentation is available for use of the tools in connection with HTML, RSS, SMIL, MP3 and Ogg audio files, and PDF via Adobe XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform). Extensions for Mozilla-based browsers enable users to explore the parsed licensing metadata.

The two new DCMI rights terms are designed to meet basic requirements necessary to: (1) support searches of the form "find all resources where an entity named using a simple string is a rights holder"; (2) support unambiguous searches of the form "find all resources where an entity that is identified using a URI is a rights holder"; (3) provide an unambiguous statement of the license under which the resource is made available, by providing a URI that identifies that license; (4) support unambiguous searches of the form "find all resources which are made available under the terms of the license that has the following URI".

Other Dublin Core metadata terms relating to rights management and access control include "rights," "accessRights," and "dateCopyrighted". Access Rights provides information about who can access the resource or an indication of its security status; it may include information regarding access or restrictions based on privacy, security or other regulations.

The DC "rights" (Rights Management) element itself provides information about rights held in and over the resource; it typically contains a rights management statement for the resource, or reference a service providing such information. Rights information often encompasses Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), Copyright, and various Property Rights.

Both the "License" and "Rights Holder" terms have been assigned the DCMI status of conforming terms — designed for use when an "implementation community has a demonstrated need; such a term conforms to the grammar of Elements and Element Refinements, though without necessarily meeting the stricter criteria of usefulness across domains or usefulness for resource discovery."

The 'License' and 'Rights Holder' terms have been incorporated into the DCMI Metadata Terms document which provides "an up-to-date specification of all metadata terms maintained by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, including elements, element refinements, encoding schemes, and vocabulary terms."

Other Dublin Core Recommendations specify how terms and markup elements are used in XML applications. For example, Expressing Dublin Core in HTML/XHTML Meta and Link Elements describes how a DCMI metadata record can be embedded into an HTML/XHTML Web page using HTML/XHTML markup elements. Guidelines for Implementing Dublin Core in XML discusses a syntax-neutral metadata model for simple (unqualified) DC and qualified DC applications, with specific guidelines for namespace-aware XML implementations.

Bibliographic Information

  • DCMI Metadata Terms. DCMI Recommendation prepared by the DCMI Usage Board. Date Issued: 2004-06-14. Date Valid: 2004-06-14. Identifier: ''.

    Abstract: "This document is an up-to-date specification of all metadata terms maintained by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, including elements, element refinements, encoding schemes, and vocabulary terms (the DCMI Type Vocabulary)."

  • "Decision on proposal for dc:rights-related terms 'rightsHolder' and 'license'." Edited by Andrew Wilson. Date: 2004-06-14. Document identifier: ''.

    The decisions documented here refers to proposals considered at the Usage Board meeting of March 2004 in Bath UK. The Usage Board approves the addition of two new properties: "license" as a refinement of dc:rights, and an element "rightsHolder" as Conforming terms in the dcterms namespace.

  • Proposals for DC Rights-related Terms. Prepared by Stuart Weibel (OCLC Office of Research), Andy Powell (UKOLN, University of Bath), and Eric Miller (World Wide Web Consortium). Published February 11, 2004. "This proposal outlines functional requirements, discusses alternative representations, and proposes a standard of practice."

Summary from the DCMI Proposal

"The DC Rights element was added to the Dublin Core following DC-3, in recognition of the importance of terms and conditions of use for discovered resources. To date, it has been little utilized, owing to the lack of standard practice concerning rights declarations on the Internet.

The recent emergence of the Creative Commons as a clearinghouse for rights declarations affords an opportunity to improve this situation, particularly for resources that have been developed with the intention of cost-free distribution, but whose creators wish to formally declare various rights.

Creative Commons has defined several licenses from which content rights holders may choose. Each of these licenses is unambiguously identified with a URI that is managed as unchanging and persistent by Creative Commons. Thus, this namespace comprises a controlled, enumerated vocabulary of license declarations, open for use by any party for whom their terms and conditions are judged useful. Providing a clear method for embedding of CC license information within the Dublin Core will reinforce the impact of both protocols. Both CC proponents and DC adopters will benefit by having a clear approach to formal rights declaration in a widely adopted metadata framework on the Internet. Further, the model for such declarations has been defined so that it is broadly useful for declaring licenses from other sources as well, providing a general-purpose mechanism for intellectual property declarations...

Use of Creative Commons licenses represents a formal opportunity for right holders to declare terms and conditions outside the framework of commercial Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems, and as such has the potential to have an important impact on the development of best practice in communities managing digital assets. In addition, the proposal is written such that licenses other than Creative Commons licenses can be declared without retrofitting these terms, and without requiring other organizations or initiatives to adopt namespaces from competitive initiatives.

It is expected that much commercially managed content will increasingly be packaged within DRM systems. The current proposal is based on the declaration of digital rights, rather than management, and is more suitable for organizations and individuals that want to make their content widely available, often without compensation, but without foregoing specified rights.

Specifying license URIs is straightforward and unambiguous, taking advantage of the basic Web infrastructure, and relying on the commitment of organizations to support such infrastructure over time...

The proposed license term refines the Rights element, affording a degree of specificity and constraint that make it broadly useful for rights declaration applications. The proposed rightsHolder term is not a refinement of any existing DCMI terms. Declaring the new terms within the DCMI namespace will simplify their interpretation by metadata applications and provide sufficient generality to support any group that chooses to specify licenses. No coordination with DCMI would be necessary to expand the use of the terms by other organizations in the future, and DC will help to establish a consistent and useful deployment framework for the community at large...

This proposal was motivated by the requirements for supporting declaration of Creative Commons licenses, but can be similarly applied to any set of licenses without future coordination with DCMI or changes to DCMI metadata terms. Any party desiring to specify and maintain licenses can take advantage of this infrastructure..."

About Creative Commons Licenses and Software Support

The DCMI proposal for addition of the terms "License" and "Rights Holder" was "motivated by the requirements for supporting declaration of Creative Commons licenses..." Summary information about these licenses is provided below.

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons licenses are "expressed in three ways:

  • Commons Deed — A simple, plain-language summary of the license, complete with the relevant icons
  • Legal Code — The fine print that you need to be sure the license will stand up in court
  • Digital Code — A machine-readable translation of the license that helps search engines and other applications identify your work by its terms of use


Creative Commons Metadata and Software Support

"Creative Commons license metadata can be embedded in a variety of digital formats, both text and binary; details are provided online for specific formats. An online guide explains how to tag works in HTML format. CC licenses may be emdedded in RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0 using the creativeCommons modules.'s License Usage tracks RSS feeds that are available under a Creative Commons license. The CC web site supplies guidelines for tagging non-web content and specifics concerning tagging MP3 and Ogg audio files, and a ccTag (CC MP3 GUI Tagger) tool provides a set of graphical and command-line tools for embedding Creative Commons license claims in MP3 files. Other tools enable embedding of Creative Commons metadata in PDF and other XMP-supported file types, and in SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language) documents. The CC development team is working on procedures for embedding licenses in additional video, music, image, and text file formats.


Creative Commons Metadata and XMP

"Many Adobe applications support embedding XMP metadata in files, most notably PDF documents. The Creative Commons licensing process offers an XMP template which may be used to mark documents with Creative Commons license information. Note that a licensed PDF document should include a visible copyright notice as described in how to tag works in addition to embedded metadata... Photoshop CS can embed XMP in PDFs via its file browser..." XMP defines a rights management schema and Creative Commons sets the following properties: (1) xapRights:Copyright - when the work is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license; (2) xapRights:Marked - False if Public Domain, True otherwise; (3) xapRights:WebStatement - supply a relevant license URL; (4) cc:license - for compatibility with other CC RDF applications and to maintain a direct reference to the license URL when xapRights:WebStatement references an intermediate page..."


mozCC Project

"mozCC is an extension for Mozilla-based browsers, including Mozilla Firebird, Mozilla and Netscape, which provides a convenient way to examine Creative Commons licenses embedded in web pages... When a license in RDF is detected, mozCC does two things. First, it scans for license information pertaining to the current web page and places relevant icons on the status bar. Second, it enables a button on the toolbar which allows you to explore the parsed licensing metadata. mozCC [release 0.8.1] should work in the following Mozilla-based browsers; each has been tested under Mac OS X, Linux and Windows XP: Mozilla Firefox (Firebird) 0.9 or later; Mozilla Application Suite 1.6 or later; Netscape 7.0 or later..."


ccTag: CC MP3 GUI Tagger

"ccTag is a set of graphical and command-line tools for embedding Creative Commons license claims in MP3 files. Builds are available for Win32 and Mac OS X; the source is available as a tarball... Version 0.5.2 [22-June-2004] offers a cross plaform GUI that works on Linux, OS X, and Windows... Creative Commons has a simple strategy for linking licensing information in mp3s and other media files often found on P2P networks back to the web. Until now implementing that strategy was rather a pain for publishers. The only tools were command line, and those depended upon a gaggle of libraries not already installed on a typical machine. Thanks to work by Nathan Yergler, we have a new application that attacks both problems..."

References: ccRdf Project

"ccRdf is a set of Python classes which allow developers to easily parse and manipulate Creative Commons licensing metadata. ccRdf supports parsing, manipulating and emitting license metadata in RDF format. ccRdf performs the core validation and parsing for the Creative Commons RDF Validator. ccRdf is copyright 2003-2004, Nathan R. Yergler, and is licensed under the GNU GPL2 license. Version 0.4.5 provides updated to support RDFlib 2.0.3 and its new API; adds unit tests; adds a new module, a nascent pluggable RDF extraction module under development for use in the new version of ccValidator.


Open Media Streaming Project

OMSP is "a free/libre project software for the development of a platform for the streaming of multimedia contents. The platform is based on the full support of the standard IETF for the real-time data transport over IP. The aim of the project is to provide an open solution, free and interoperable along with the proprietary streaming applications currently dominant on the market. OMSP is one of the research projects created by Juan Carlos De Martin in 2000 within the Internet Media Group at the Politecnico di Torino/IEIIT-CNR. The developers community has already produced full working versions of a streaming server (Fenice) and a player (NeMeSI)..."

On June 29 2004 the development team announced a Fenice 1.5 release featuring Creative Commons licensing meta-data support. It adds support for Creative Commons licensing meta-data for audio/video streaming, with preliminary live audio support via named-pipe and new source tree structure. See the subversion repository. The team also announced NeMeSI version 0.3.0 with alpha CC support; it's an experimental branch supporting Creative Commons licensed audio/video streaming... "running code" to test a soon-to-be-released specification proposal for streaming Creative Commons licensing meta-data over RTSP/RTP protocols.


GotDotNet Project CCLicenseLib

"CCLicenseLib is a C# class library that contains objects representing the Creative Commons License metadata. The basis for this project is to give developers an API for managing CC License information within their programs. Version 1.3 of the Creative Commons License Library (CCLicenseLib) provides license version updates, enhancements to the RDF parsing functionality, and introduces new functionality to parse license information from MP3 files.

"Version 1.3 of the library provides support for version 2.0 of Creative Commons Licenses (Version 1.0 licenses are still supported as well for legacy reasons) It has updated Namespace organization of classes and enhanced RDF parsing (parsing routines now only extract CC related RDF from a data source instead of all RDF instances.) It also has MP3 ID3 frame parsing support; this functionality is in responseto Nathan Yergler's release of the ccTag application to embed Creative Commons license information into MP3s..."


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