Rights expression languages provide a metadata framework for the expression of rights for any kind of digital media content. ODRL, the Open Digital Rights Language, an XML-based rights expression language (REL) is hosted by the ODRL Initiative. The Initiative has gained international significance in the field of digital rights management (DRM) over the past years, culminating in ODRL being adopted as an international standard by the Open Mobile Alliance for supporting the process of mobile content distribution and management.

In order to bring together the research and industry communities to share experiences and discuss the future developments of the ODRL language the ODRL Initiative organises workshops. The first International ODRL Workshop was held in Vienna, Austria in April 2004. This year's international ODRL Workshop 2005 took place in Lisbon, Portugal from 7th to 8th of July 2005. The present report highlights topics which presumably will interest INDICARE Monitor readers most. A comprehensive report about the workshop is available at the ODRL website:

Keynote talks
Identity and content rights
Simon Nicholson, Director, Wireless Business Strategy & Development, Sun Microsystems

When Simon Nicholson, supporter of the Liberty Alliance (a consortium of 150 members throughout the IT and communications industry) looks years ahead he does not see himself carrying around several devices, such as a phone, a PDA, or a blackberry; nor will he possess several keys, several credit cards, or other identity cards. He will have one tiny device that authenticates him as he moves “through space”. It will open his front door, receive all incoming calls and e-mails, grant access to his company’s premises and withdraw money from his bank account. Simon Nicholson brings it to the point: In the future, all that matters in identification. Services will be bound to an identity rather than to a specific device, such as an iPod or a mobile phone.

According to Nicholson, the combination of value, trust, and privacy will determine future digital services. Trust is the key driver of the online model and identity management is the key enabler for trust. Identity management requires interoperability but also helps to remove single points of failure. To enable identity management the Liberty Alliance has developed a technical architecture and the Identity Service Interface Specification. Specifications need implementation and testing and that's what is currently on the way with e.g. OMA members.

Where does that all connect to ODRL? First of all, ODRL needs to support the integration of the Liberty identification schemes in the language with regard to meta data and data models. Second, ODRL needs the expressiveness for different levels of privacy to be “Liberty compliant”. For example, content that defines me, such as credit card details and health records need a higher level of protection than maybe contact details on my phone. The two initiatives will keep on working closely together on this topic.

OMA DRM 2.0 status and future work
Jan von der Meer, OMA DRM WG Leader & Philips Electronics

The route from OMA 1.0 to OMA 2.0 was presented in The INDICARE Monitor in August last year (Buhse 2004). The present status was reported at the ODRL Workshop. The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) currently has about 200 members. Version 1.0 of the OMA standard is targeted at light media and offers lightweight DRM. Currently, over 250 handsets models are on the market with OMA DRM Version 1.0 support. The rights objects that are used for the separate delivery mechanism are expressed in ODRL.

OMA DRM Version 2.0 is a much more comprehensive and complex DRM for premium media. It supports additional concepts, like domains and additional security concepts, such as a public key infrastructure regulated by the independent Content Management License Administrator (CM-LA). The next DRM (interoperability) test fest is to be held in September in Seoul to move the specification forward to “enabler release” status. However, the DRM WG Leader, Jan van der Meer did not reveal any detailed schedule for when OMA DRM Version 2.0 will be approved or if further test fests are planned.

OMA DRM Version 2.0 is not restricted to mobile communications but supports the convergence between the mobile world and PCs. This might explain the positive market forecasts by Coremedia foreseeing that in 2007, 60 % of the globally protected content will use OMA DRM and that mobile content revenues will have increased to almost US $ 30 billion pa. On the OMA roadmap are DRM extensions for e.g. broadcast (TV), support of removable media (technology that goes beyond domains), and more OMA (desktop) clients for various platforms.

DRM coordination work on IST FP6 NAVSHP projects
Miguel Dias, Adetti President, Portugal

The European Union, aiming at taking European Research and Development a step forward, organises co-ordination meetings among the different 6th-Framework-Program (FP6) R&D areas and projects. In the area of Networked Audio Visual Systems and Home Platforms (NAVSHP), four different co-ordination groups have been established:

  • CG1 - Digital Rights Management,
  • CG2 - Quality of Service in a Convergent Environment,
  • CG3 - In-Home Networks and Platforms and
  • CG4 Content Media Processing.

Delegates from six FP6 Projects (Medianet, Enthrone, Tiramisu, Danae, Avista, and Visnet) enlarged by the FP5 Project ELIN (chaired by Miguel Dias) and participation from the European Broadcasting Union have joined efforts in the framework of Coordination Group 1 - CG1 – DRM (chaired by Leonardo Chiariglione). They work on a DRM Requirements Report that expresses the common view of NAVSHP on DRM and the requirements for future DRM technologies, systems and toolkits in the European audio-visual sector. The authors are planning to submit this report for consideration of other FP6 Priorities, so that it may achieve the status of a DRM Requirements Report for the complete FP6 programme.

Miguel Dias, chairman of the CG1 – DRM presented the coordination group and the current status of the Requirements document which has currently around 100 requirements (subdivided in business and market requirements, technological requirements and socio-economic requirements). He also announced that the group is currently receiving comments from several external sources (Intel, IFPI, MPAA, etc.) and has encouraged the ODRL Initiative to also contribute to the document.

Paper sessions
Formalising ODRL semantics using web ontologies
Roberto García, Rosa Gil, Isabel Gallego and Jaime Delgado
A new approach to interoperability between ODRL and MPEG-21 REL
Jaime Delgado, Jose Prados, Eva Rodríguez, University Pompeu Fabra

Translation from one rights expression language to another is an important topic. Anecdotal evidence is that Coremedia has built an OMA plugin (ODRL based) for the Windows Media Player (MPEG REL based) (cf. Coremedia 2005). The University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona presented two contributions in this field.

In the first paper the need for a rights expression language ontology was discussed. With such ontologies, representing the generic namespace of rights expression languages, a common base could be created where different languages can be mapped onto and thus translated from one to another. The second contribution showed how a translation can be done from OMA DRM 1.0 and 2.0 ODRL profiles to MPEG REL with the help of XSLT processing.

A review of the OMA DRM V2 ODRL profile
Renato Iannella, NICTA, Australia

This paper presented a review of the OMA DRM Version 2.0 profile of the ODRL REL. It looked at the decisions made by the OMA DRM working group and offered alternative solutions. Some of the issues highlighted included the use of the inheritance model (for subscriptions) and the impact on recording the current state of time/count based constraints, and the effect of super-distribution on privacy without the explicit “tracked” requirement in the ODRL agreement. Renato Iannella concluded that the lessons learned are important for both the ODRL Initiative and for other groups developing profiles of the ODRL REL. In particular, he noted that OMA and the ODRL Initiative need to formalise their relationship to enable sharing of issues that are directly related to the ODRL profile.

Extending ODRL to enable bi-directional communication
Alapan Arnab, Andrew Hutchinson, University of Cape Town

The paper discussed an important issue in the field of rights expression languages: how to negotiate rights. The current versions of rights expression languages ODRL, XrML and MPEG REL stress the granting of rights from the rights holder to the user. This might be a reason why current rights expression language initiatives do not include the negotiation of rights.

Alapan Arnab showed a theoretical approach to how the negotiation aspect can be incorporated as part of a rights expression language. He stated that his proposed changes enable the end user to request changes to an offer or proactively request rights for a digital product. However, there has to be a clear distinction between the rights expression itself and the protocol for exchanging and negotiating rights expressions. Do the negotiation elements have to be part of the expression language? Clearly separating the requirements for a negotiation protocol and a REL that enables negotiation would be a valuable topic for future work in this field.

Using ODRL to express rights for different content usage scenarios
Carlos Serrao, Miguel Dias and Jaime Delgado, Adetti/ISCTE, Portugal and University Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Carlos Serrão provided a paper in which several ODRL usage examples are presented, stressing the fact that ODRL represents an opportunity to have rights expression richness, flexibility and at the same time openness. He addressed those characteristics in the ODRL language by providing examples of how ODRL is currently being used in several content usage scenarios, such as music download and streaming, video-surveillance data streaming and storage and remote sensing of JPEG2000 images.

This paper also makes a short reference to the OpenSDRM architecture, an open DRM system that uses ODRL as its rights expression language and providing an interoperable rights enforcing layer. This layer acts as middleware to enforce the expressed rights over the content, through the provision of the Digital Wallet concept. The module which implements this concept is capable of accessing the rights locally or over the network, interpreting and enforcing them for the requesting content applications.

Embedding ODRL statements in Dublin Core
Enric Peig and Jaime Delgado, University Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Enric Peig motivated the need for a human readable translation of rights expressions. He investigated the concrete usage of rights expressions within the Dublin Core metadata. He presented what a translation of rights expressions would look like and suggested a proper location for the translation within the Dublin Core metadata. For future work he envisaged a concrete approach to the automatic translation of ODRL rights expressions into a proper (English) sentence without losing important semantics.

Predicting the evolution of digital rights, digital objects and DRM languages
Jonathan Schull, Rochester Institute of Technology, USA

Jonathan Schull shared his long-standing knowledge about the evolution of digital goods, i.e. the virtualisation of the world and his visions for the future. He makes the very striking connection between the virtualisation of money and now, a few years later, the virtualisation of digital goods or information products.

From his experience of the early days of superdistribution and the observation how digital rights management technology has evolved, today he encourages distribution of content and copying of content rather than locking it in with strong security means, such as some of the current DRM technology. This approach keeps customers away from digital goods, Schull stated. He suggests to track superdistribution activities and to reward users who actively redistribute content, a concept that the OMA Version 2.0 specification already offers. He also sees the need to formulate rights that are valid downstream, i.e. rights that apply to the customer’s customer. The ODRL Version 2.0 model allows for such downstream rights with the “Next Rights” concept and thus, it seems the technical means are available for a slightly different approach to DRM.

Invited talk
Plans, scope, and objectives of the GeoDRM WG within the Open Geospatial Consortium
Roland Wagner,University of Münster, Germany

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is a non-profit organisation with 250 members from the US, Europe, and Asia leading the development of standards for geospatial and location based services. The need for rights management in the geospatial sector results from the variety of information that is available for one location, e.g. information on infrastructure, industrial buildings, landscape, natural cover, etc. For future sophisticated location based services this information has to be brought together and at this point DRM is needed. The providers of the different types of geospatial information need a mechanism to protect and preserve their rights when their information is integrated.

The GeoDRM working group is part of the OGC. Its aim is to reuse digital rights technologies and to extend them to geospatial data handling and services. In the long run the group is aiming at integrating geospatial information automatically by interpreting DRM licenses reflecting the conditions of each geospatial information provider. In the development process of its specifications the GeoDRM working group will investigate ODRL as a REL candidate for the GeoDRM Reference Model and to formulate licenses for geospatial data.

Open panel
The impact of DRM patents on REL research and standards
Susanne Guth, o2 Germany, Renato Iannella, NICTA, Australia

The authors of this article presented the view of the ODRL Initiative on the licence claims by MPEG LA with regard to rights expression languages. An article on this topic has been published in the INDICARE Monitor (Guth and Iannella 2005). It comprises a detailed analysis of the MPEG LA claims and highlights alternative views on the technical claims and prior art in the case of rights expression languages.

The negotiations between MPEG LA and e.g. the GSMA have not been settled yet. The GSM Association still regards the requested fees of 65c US $ per device and 25c US $ per user per year as not acceptable and not applicable for the mobile communications market. The only way to address the MPEG LA claim would be for each single patent to be technically investigated in detail for its applicability. Helpful in this procedure is the gathering of any prior art that is dated before the patent filing. Prior art must not necessarily be a published paper, but can be a citation, a picture, a slide, etc. If the reader knows of any early work in the field of rights expression languages, please write to the ODRL interest list.

Current and future work of the ODRL initiative
In the past year, the ODRL Initiative has established the ODRL International Advisory Board, which includes members from research and industry and guides the ODRL Initiative in long-term strategy and governs the ODRL policies and procedures.

Intensive work on the further development of the ODRL language model is currently being addressed. A comprehensive language requirements document has been published by the ODRL Version 2.0 working group. A first draft of the new Version 2.0 data model has been released for discussion. After the final review, several encodings e.g. XML, RDF, are to follow. The ODRL Version 2.0 data model will meet future needs by having the expressiveness for multi-sided contracts comprising rights and duties, barters, service level agreements (SLAs), downstream (next) rights, tickets, reuse of existing, related standards etc., and at the same time being simple and easy to use.


Figure 1: ODRL data model Version 2.0

The application areas of ODRL are numerous and so are the various ways it is used. Thus, creating application or domain specific profiles of ODRL is the logical and necessary future step. Three weeks ago, the first official ODRL Profile Specification for encoding the Creative Commons licenses in ODRL was published. The ODRL Initiative looks forward to working with other communities in developing new profiles to capture their requirements for content licensing and sharing. Mechanisms to achieve this are via new joint ODRL Working Groups and more formal liaisons with existing standards and community sectors groups.

Bottom line
Workshop participation, the contributions, and the given talks illustrate the strong industry and research interest in the field of rights expression languages and DRM implementations. Furthermore, it is has made clear that the application areas of DRM and rights expression languages are not restricted to e.g. digital music distribution anymore. The main topics of the workshop were interoperability and standardization, as well as integration of related technologies, which will also continue to be the focus of the ODRL Initiative.


About the authors
Susanne Guth received a diploma degree in Information Systems and a doctoral degree in social and economic sciences.. She wrote her doctoral thesis in the field of contract and rights management for digital goods. Susanne Guth is a private, active member of the ODRL Initiative, leading the development of ODRL Version 2.0 and works as DRM senior specialist for the German mobile network operator O2. Contact:

Renato Iannella is a Program Leader at National ICT Australia (NICTA). Renato has extensive experience in the development and standardisation of Internet, Web, and Mobile technologies and was a former member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Advisory Board. Renato also is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland, Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong. Contact:

Carlos Serrão has two academic degrees (BSc and MSc) from Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE). He is currently a lecturer at ISCTE, teaching subjects related to Information Security, Information Systems Development and Management, and Project Management. Carlos Serrão is currently preparing his PhD in the DRM area. Contact:

Status: first posted 28/07/05; included in INDICARE Monitor Vol. 2, No. 5, 29 July 2005; licensed under Creative Commons