Our rights statements have been specifically designed to be used by cultural heritage institutions and cultural heritage aggregation platforms to indicate the copyright status of digital objects that they make available online. They are not intended to be used for other purpose such as licensing works created by individuals. If you are looking for tools to license your own creations for re-use we encourage you to take a look at the Creative Commons licenses.

White Papers & Policies

You can find more information about the rights statements and about the technical architecture of in our White Papers. The white paper “Recommendations for Standardized International Rights Statements” outlines the design principle behind our rights statements and provides detailed information about each individual Rights Statement. The “Requirements for the Technical Infrastructure for Standardized International Rights Statements” white paper describes the technical underpinnings of our Rights Statements.

Changes to the published rights statements are governed by our editorial policy. Our translation policy outlines the process for creating official translations of our rights statements.

Use by cultural heritage institutions provides standardized rights statements that can be used by cultural heritage institutions to indicate the copyright status of digital objects that they make available online, either on their own website or via aggregation platforms.

These rights statements are high level summaries of the underlying rights status of the digital objects that they apply to. By providing a limited number of standardized statements we aim to facilitate the online discovery of cultural heritage objects based on their rights status. Our rights statements are intended to be used in addition to (more detailed) rights information that institutions already have and not to replace existing information.

How to apply the Rights Statements

Note: Before you apply rights statements to digital objects from your collection please make sure that you are doing so in line with institutional policies, or in agreement with aggregation platforms that that apply to your situation. Often such policies will be more specific than the general information provided below.

To indicate the copyright and reuse status of a digital object the link to the desired rights statement needs to be associated with the digital object.

We recommend that institutions that are using the statements provided by do so by storing the URI of the rights statement in a metadata element or property associated with the cultural heritage object to which the rights statement applies. Examples of such fields include dc:rights or edm:rights.

When publishing the digital object online the name of the rights statement together with a link to the URI of the rights statement should be displayed in close proximity to the object. Users or software agents that want to obtain more information about the rights status of the digital object can follow the link. Based on the preference of the client accessing this URI, our service provides either a human readable version of the statement or machine readable data that describes it.

Our rights statements have been developed to be used alongside the Licenses and Public Domain Tools provided by Creative Commons. Our rights statements can be applied in situations where the Creative Commons tools and licenses cannot be used.

Works that are known to be free from copyright and related works across the globe should be labelled with the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark. Works that for which the institution publishing the work is the sole rights holder and intends to make them available for re-use should be labelled with one of the six Creative Commons licenses or with the CC0 Public Domain dedication.

Combined with the Creative Commons Licenses and Legal tools, our Rights Statements cover a full spectrum of copyright and re-use scenarios encountered by cultural heritage institutions online.