About RightsStatements.org

We believe that everyone should be able to engage with their cultural heritage online, and we are not alone in this - libraries, archives and museums around the world are also looking for ways to improve access to and reuse of their digital collections.

We want to help cultural heritage institutions work towards this vision by making it easier for users to understand what they can do with a digital object they discover. Our work is driven by the absence of a global approach to addressing this. No other systems meet the specific needs of a broad range of cultural heritage organisations, which has led to a proliferation of terms. This has led to confusion for the organisations and the users.

Providing standardised interoperable rights and reuse information

We provide simple and standardized terms - which we call ‘rights statements’ to summarize the copyright status of objects in their collection, as well as how those objects may be used.

The rights statements are designed to be used by cultural heritage institutions to communicate the copyright and re-use status of digital objects to their users. These statements provide a best practice for use by both international, national and regional aggregators of cultural heritage data, and the individual institutions and organisations that contribute data to them.

The rights statements are not just about the making things easier for the user. RightsStatements.org establishes the vocabulary that every organization can use to talk to their audiences - internally and externally - about copyright and related rights in a meaningful way. It provides the technical and governance infrastructure to support their development and adoption, and ensure their on­going relevance.

A collaborative approach to governance which ensures the consortium meets the needs of the cultural heritage sector

The rightsstatements.org consortium is a member based organisation - currently comprising of 6 continental and international aggregators. Each members contributes an annual fee, and provides in-kind support.

Consortium members

The development of the consortium is overseen by a Steering Committee. The development and maintenance of the statements are driven by two working groups: The Statements Working Group, and the Technical Working Group. All of this is supported by a dedicated coordinator (0.2 FTE) paid for by the consortium.

The Steering Committee made up of 11 representatives of the members, and includes the co-chairs of the working groups. Seats on the Committee, including the chair and vice chair, are fixed for two years, renewable consecutively once. The Committee meets bi-monthly, and holds one in-person meeting annually.

The first annual meeting of the Steering Committee was held in September 2017, at the offices of Europeana Foundation, The Hague, Netherlands. The minutes of that meeting are publicly available here.

Chair: Julia Fallon, Europeana Foundation

Vice Chair: Caitlin Horrall, Library & Archives Canada


  • John Bracken, Digital Public Library of America
  • Partha Pratim Das, National Digital Library India
  • Cathie Oates, Trove at the National Digital Library of Australia
  • Greg Cram, New York Public Library (Chair of the Statements WG)
  • Antoine Isaac, Europeana Foundation (Co-Chair of the Technical Working Group)
  • Mark Matienzo, Stanford University (Co-Chair of the Technical Working Group)
  • Fiona Fieldsend, National Library of New Zealand

Observers: Paul Keller, independent policy advisor on behalf of Europeana Foundation

Coordinator: Ariadna Matas, Europeana Foundation

Our Work Plans

The Consortium Steering Committee prepares annual work plans to structure its work and steps towards achieving its objectives:

Work Plan for 2019

Work Plan for 2020

Work Plan for 2021

Working Groups

Two working groups take forward the basic principles and technical infrastructure that was developed by DPLA and Europeana-based working groups. Each group is led by two co-chairs, and is comprised of individuals with knowledge and expertise in their respective fields. Members of the working group have a dual role of represent the members of the consortium as well as the needs of cultural heritage organisations.

There are currently two active working groups. The International Rights Statements Working Group and the Technical Working Group.

International Rights Statements Working Group

The task of the International Rights Statements Working Group is to steward the development of the rights statements offered by RightsStatements.org. Its main purpose is to ensure that the rights statements address the needs of cultural heritage institutions and aggregation platforms while ensuring that the conform to the design principles identified in the white paper “Recommendations for Standardized International Rights Statements”.

The International Rights Statements Working Group is chaired by Greg Cram (Associate Director of Copyright & Intellectual Property, New York Public Library) and co-chaired by Jessica Coates (Executive Officer, Australian Digital Alliance), and has the following members:

  • Emily Gore, Former Director of Member Services, Digital Preservation Network;
  • Prof. Dr. jur. Ellen Euler, Professor for Open Access / Open Data, Fachhochschule Potsdam;
  • Julia Fallon, Community and Partner Engagement Manager Europeana Foundation;
  • David Hansen, Assistant Clinical Professor & Faculty Research Librarian, UNC School of Law;
  • Paul Keller, independent policy advisor;
  • Kim Gutchlag, Manager Collection Development and Description, National Library of New Zealand;
  • Dave Hansen, Associate University Librarian for Research, Collections and Scholarly Communication;
  • Melissa Levine, Lead Copyright Officer, University of Michigan Library;
  • Sarah Severson, Digital Initiatives Project Librarian, University of Alberta Library;
  • Patrick Peiffer, Digital Librarian, Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg; and
  • Liam Wyatt, WikiCite coordinator.

Technical Working Group

The task of Technical Working Group is to develop and maintain the technical infrastructure and data model that powers the rights statements offered by RightsStatements.org, as defined in the white paper “Requirements for the Technical Infrastructure for Standardized International Rights Statements”.

The Technical Working Group is chaired by Mark Matienzo (Stanford University Libraries) and Antoine Isaac (Europeana) and has the following members:

  • Sascha Adler, Lead Application Developer, Canadian Research Knowledge Network;
  • Plaban Kumar Bhowmik, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur;
  • Valentine Charles, Data R&D Coordinator, Europeana;
  • Esmé Cowles, Digital Infrastructure Developer, Princeton University;
  • Tom Johnson, PhD Student, University of Washington Information School;
  • Matthew Miguez, Metadata Librarian, Florida State University Libraries;
  • Patrick Peiffer, Digital Librarian, Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg; and
  • Mark Raadgever, Trove data team, National Library of Australia.

With support from

RightsStatements.org has been realized with the support from:

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Co-Financed by the European Union - Connecting Europe Facility