Rights statements for cultural heritage

Julia Hickie writes on the importance of the newly released Right Statements

rightsThe much-anticipated http://rightsstatements.org has just been released. It provides 11 standard rights statements to identify the copyright status of an item, and when there are extra restrictions or exceptions to re-use. It’s been developed with cultural heritage in mind but definitely extends to the research sector.

From the blog post:

“There are three categories of rights statements: Statements for works that are in copyright, statements for works that are not in copyright, and statements for works where the copyright status is unclear. The statements provide users with easy to understand, high-level information about the copyright and re-use status of digital objects.”

Like Creative Commons, http://rightsstatements.org is human and machine readable. There are citable URLs that can be included in metadata records. This is just the kind of URL that would go in the <license_ref> field proposed in last year’s NISO Access and License Indicators Recommended Practice. That’s the really exciting part for Trove as we hope to one day use this metadata, alongside CC licences, to power a ‘Rights’ facet.

I’m imagining a bright future where a researcher couldn’t be convinced to use a CC licence but was happy for educational use and so included one of these statements with their publication. A teacher then does a search restricted to articles that are ok for re-use in an educational context, and that article comes up.

Or even those specially digitised collections, where we will have one day added these statements and users will understand that the fact that knowing that copyright has expired is not enough.

The 11 statements are:

  • In Copyright
  • In Copyright – EU-Orphan work
  • In Copyright – Educational use permitted
  • In Copyright – Non-commerical use permitted
  • In Copyright – rights holders unlocatable or unidentifiable
  • No Copyright – Contractual restrictions
  • No copyright – Non-commercial use only
  • No copyright – other known legal restrictions
  • No copyright – United States
  • Copyright not evaluated
  • No known copyright

You can read more about rightsstatements.org on the Digital Public Library of America’s blog

Julia Hickie is the Co-Assistant Director, Trove, National Library of Australia