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Posted on Friday February 6, 2015

Rights statements - an introduction

We believe that everyone should be able to access their cultural heritage online. Providing rights information is essential because users need to know to access and use the objects you share.

Europeana uses 13 standardised rights statements which communicate to users how they can access and use the content you share. Mandated by the Data Exchange Agreement, every digital object must be published with a rights statements.

Why are rights statements important?

The statements give users information about rights and permissions in clear and simple language. If you’ve decided to share your content openly, for example, you’ll want to communicate it clearly and effectively to users.

Rights statements can be split into four categories

  • Public Domain - where copyright does not exist, has expired or has been waived and best practice guidelines for use apply
  • Creative Commons licences - where the rights holder grants permission to apply one of the six Creative Commons licences
  • Rights Reserved - where access to the objects is provided, and additional permissions are required for re-use
  • Unknown Status - where the rights are unknown, or the object is a legally recognised Orphan Work

How to access rights statements on our portal

  • You can view the rights statement next to each object when viewing a record
  • By clicking through the rights statement accompanying any object, you will access a webpage that describes the rights and permissions in more detail
  • You can apply a filter to find objects with a specific rights statement
  • Or, if you are looking for objects you can re-use, we have developed a ‘Can I use it’ search facet

How do rights statements work with our API?

  • Rights statements are shared via the API in the same way that any other metadata field is shared
  • Rights statements are a fully searchable field
  • The rights statement in the edm:rights field provides information about the conditions of use of the linked digital objects
  • Most of our rights statements pages are enriched with the semantic web standard RDF, which supports the exchange of data in different formats
  • You can find out more about accessing our data via the API at Europeana Labs

We provide a choice of 13 standardised rights statements

The rights statements support a broad range of scenarios for describing copyright, access and re-use terms. Your institution collects and stores information about the copyright statuses of the works it holds, as well as the terms and conditions of how specific works can be used. Taken together, this information is used to select and apply a rights statement to each digital object.

You submit the rights statement as metadata at ingestion time

When you submit your data to be published, the rights statement is part of that data. The rights statements are encoded as URLs, which point to webpages containing information about the rights and permissions relating to a digital object. The URL is submitted in the edm:rights metadata field : <edm:rights rdf:resource="http://a.rights.statement/"/>