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Rights Statements Resources

Digital collections have usually included information about the copyright status of individual items, from the earliest implementations. However, rights descriptions have often varied widely across (and even within) organizations. They have also sometimes contained information of limited benefit to users, or been limited by concerns about legal liability.

In the last decade or so, there have been various attempts to try to improve this kind of information, making it more standardized, and more understandable and beneficial for users.

Minnesota Digital Library (MDL) has selected the labels provided by as our local set of standards.


In 2016, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and Europeana introduced and launched, a new controlled vocabulary for describing the copyright status of digital works.

Shortly after, MDL conducted a pilot project in 2017 with five contributing organizations to establish a practice for applying rights statements to future contributions to the Minnesota Digital Library, and to inform full implementation.

Implementing rights statements in the Minnesota Digital Library will be a multi-year endeavor. New and returning contributors to MDL will be trained on using rights statements. Previous contributors can opt-in to attend a future training session to learn how to apply the rights statements to their existing MDL content. Contributing organizations take responsibility for assessing their collection items and selecting appropriate rights statements, with training and support from MDL.


Rights Statements: An Introduction
Learn about MDL Rights Statements implementation, copyright considerations, and an overview of the rights statements options for MDL contributors.

Rights Statements: Working with Examples
Presenters will introduce the decision tree document Rights Review: An approach to applying Rights Statements from and use examples from MDL to show how the statements can be applied.