Artificial Intelligence and Law

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 137–154

A web ontologies framework for digital rights management


DOI: 10.1007/s10506-007-9032-6

Cite this article as:
García, R., Gil, R. & Delgado, J. Artif Intell Law (2007) 15: 137. doi:10.1007/s10506-007-9032-6


In order to improve the management of copyright in the Internet, known as Digital Rights Management, there is the need for a shared language for copyright representation. Current approaches are based on purely syntactic solutions, i.e. a grammar that defines a rights expression language. These languages are difficult to put into practise due to the lack of explicit semantics that facilitate its implementation. Moreover, they are simple from the legal point of view because they are intended just to model the usage licenses granted by content providers to end-users. Thus, they ignore the copyright framework that lies behind and the whole value chain from creators to end-users. Our proposal is to use a semantic approach based on semantic web ontologies. We detail the development of a copyright ontology in order to put this approach into practice. It models the copyright core concepts for creation, rights and the basic kinds of actions that operate on content. Altogether, it allows building a copyright framework for the complete value chain. The set of actions operating on content are our smaller building blocks in order to cope with the complexity of copyright value chains and statements and, at the same time, guarantee a high level of interoperability and evolvability. The resulting copyright modelling framework is flexible and complete enough to model many copyright scenarios, not just those related to the economic exploitation of content. The ontology also includes moral rights, so it is possible to model this kind of situations as it is shown in the included example model for a withdrawal scenario. Finally, the ontology design and the selection of tools result in a straightforward implementation. Description Logic reasoners are used for license checking and retrieval. Rights are modelled as classes of actions, action patterns are modelled also as classes and the same is done for concrete actions. Then, to check if some right or license grants an action is reduced to check for class subsumption, which is a direct functionality of these reasoners.


copyright digital rights management ontology semantic web 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Science and Engineering DepartmentUniversitat de LleidaLleidaSpain
  2. 2.Technology DepartmentUniversitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain

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