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Lightweight rights modeling and linked data publication for online cultural heritage

Institutional websites and aggregation initiatives like Europeana and DPLA seek to facilitate access and re-use of vast amounts of digitized cultural material online. Metadata about digitized content has long been identified as a key asset to facilitate these ends, and these initiatives have created metadata frameworks that enhance interoperability across information spaces and systems. Expressing the conditions for re-use that derive from intellectual property rights remains an issue, however. Published (meta)datasets still often indicate copyrights and other access conditions using ad-hoc descriptions that specific to sectors, languages and national contexts. Creative Commons is a great leap forward, as it provides a standardized set of licenses and public domain marks that can be used to label open digital heritage resources in an interoperable way. Its focus on full openness, however, means that it cannot be used for a significant part of cultural collections published online. Recently, W3C has published the Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) for representing policies that combine permissions and duties. While ODRL enables to express rights-related statements of arbitrary complexity, it does not provide a set of community-backed statements that can be reused out-of-the-box to label cultural resources. is an international initiative that aims at filling these gaps, offering to the cultural heritage domain the resources to label in an interoperable way (using Linked Data technology) digitized objects that are not always in scope for full open publication. In this special session, we will present the challenges that has to address to provide a service useful to the digital heritage domain. After a discussion on the context and issues of expressing rights to access and re-use digital cultural material, we will present’s offer as a complement to initiatives like Creative Commons. We will then dive in the details of implementation and use of the statements and services that provides. We will focus first on data modeling, presenting how rights statements are expressed in a lightweight and interoperable way, both for machines and humans, based on Linked Data principles and vocabularies. We will then relate our work with other relevant initiatives in the community, both in terms of (1) standardized and/or shareable sets of statements, including projects such as Wikidata, and (2) frameworks to express statements in a more complex way, such as W3C’s ODRL. Finally we will seek to bridge with efforts to express rights and licenses in other domains relevant to the Dublin Core™ audience, such as in the (ongoing work on the) W3C DCAT vocabulary. For every main agenda item in the session, we have planned “interaction points”, not only opening the floor to questions from the audience, but also questioning them on their experience with expressing intellectual property rights and other (non-)legal conditions, asking them feedback on the modeling choices made in, evaluating the labeling of some objects in Europeana, or discussing how the community should further organize itself to tackle rights issues better, if needed.