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Draft Rights Declaration Schema is Ready for Review

The METS Editorial Board sees the need for a simple Rights schema that the METS community could use while the more comprehensive Rights Expression Language (REL) schemas such as XrML, ODRL, and others are being developed, and debated. The focus of the simple Rights schema is to simply declare or document some basic facts about the digital collections being created and/or included in institutional digital repositories. To that end, this draft Rights Declaration schema is offered to the METS community for review, comment, and discussion. The schema is attached as well as some sample instance documents designed to illustrate how the schema could be used.

As background and in explanation of the rationale for the Board's approach, the following schemas and similar efforts were reviewed closely: the ODRL REL, the XrML REL, the federated digital rights requirements as crafted by Mairead Martin from U Tenn, Grace Agnew from Rutgers, and others, and the efforts by the Digital Library Federation's Electronic Resource Management Initiative (DLF ERMI) to document terms related to licensed electronic resources. Following the comparison of approaches and metadata elements, this rights declaration schema focuses upon:

  • digital resources owned or controlled by the digital repository rather than e-resources accessed remotely, formally licensed and subscribed to by an organization (the area covered by the DLF ERMI group)
  • declaring the rights holders and rights associated with the digital resources mentioned above rather than trying to fully express all rights as would a REL designed to be used with a Digital Rights Management system or product
  • simplifying the declaration as much as possible given the fact that the whole DRM & REL scene is changing so rapidly

This Rights Declaration schema has 3 main elements:

  • A simple declaration of type of rights (copyrighted, licensed, public domain, contractual, other) and the public statement of that Rights Declaration,
  • The naming of the Rights Holder(s) with appropriate contact information,
  • The Context(s) for the rights declaration based on type of users who have a set of permissions for a digital object or part of a digital object. If there are any constraints to the permissions, those are also expressed within the context by listing the constraints and explaining them in a constraint description element.

The Rights Schema is available at

Also available are the following example documents:

Please direct any comments or questions about the draft schema to the METS listserv.

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  March 28, 2022

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