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Selecting a rights statement

This page offers information on how to identify the most accurate and adequate rights statement for the data you share with Europeana.

We believe that everyone should have access to cultural heritage online. And for users to know how to use digital objects, providing clear and simple rights information is essential. That is why digital objects submitted to Europeana must include a rights statement from one of the 14 options Europeana provides. 

When you choose a rights statement, remember to:

  • Be honest and accurate. Through the Data Exchange Agreement, data partners are asked to make their ‘best efforts to provide Europeana with correct Metadata on the Intellectual Property Rights to the Content’. Do not misuse copyright to claim rights that do not exist, and do not indicate that something is freely usable if it is not the case. 

  • Respect the public domain. Through our Public Domain Charter, we encourage you to share works that are in the public domain openly, rather than applying a license or statement that limits their use. Having a healthy and thriving public domain is essential to social and economic well-being, and cultural heritage institutions play a key role in connecting the public with these works. Placing restrictions will only undermine this role. 

The approach for making such decisions will change from one organisation to the next, but here are a few important things to remember:

  • In several cases, choosing a rights statement means granting a license to use the content. Make sure you have the right to do so.

  • Evaluate the copyright status of the physical object. 

  • Consider your organisation's policy for sharing content, and whether there is a willingness to open up, which we encourage. 

  • If you already have permission to share an object, consider whether any specific terms and conditions apply. For instance, was it digitised through a partnership with a private actor and does the agreement allow for commercial uses? If not, we have dedicated statements that can reflect this condition. 

Two layers, one statement

Many institutions distinguish between rights to the content (the original physical or born-digital object) and rights to the digital object, meaning the digital reproduction of the work. However, when you share data with Europeana we encourage you to treat them as one: choose one rights statement that applies to both.

The simplest way to do so is to not claim additional rights that may result from the digitisation of content. In any case, these can only be legally claimed: 

  • If the digitisation is an original work of art in itself, in which case the one who digitised the content is assigned ‘full’ copyright protection,

  • Or if the digitisation is made in a country where neighbouring rights are recognised to non-original photography (and the requirements for this protection are met), in which case the one who digitised the content gets “some” copyright protection.

If you differentiate the two layers, remember that: 

  • If the content is protected by copyright, but the digital reproduction is not, the rights statement should communicate the in copyright status (through for instance a CC license, or an In Copyright rights statement)

  • If the content is not protected by copyright, but the digital reproduction is (and you wish to claim the rights), the rights statement should communicate the in copyright status (through for instance a CC license, or an In Copyright rights statement)

  • If neither the content or the digital reproduction is protected by copyright, the rights statement should communicate the out of copyright status (through for instance the Public Domain Mark, the Public Domain Dedication or an out of copyright rights statement)

Once you have read through this page, take a look at Europeana’s available rights statements and pick the one that suits the conditions of your collection.

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