Intellectual Property

Implementing Copyright Limitations in Rights Expression Languages

Type: Research Paper
Year: 2002

"Implementing Copyright Limitations on Rights Expression Languages," by Clinic Director Deirdre Mulligan and Clinic student Aaron Burstein, discusses how rights expression languages (RELs) decrease the expression of legal rights. RELs provide the necessary vocabulary to express rules which control the use of digital material. The paper discusses how to better align RELs and with copyright policy.

Drafters of rights expression languages (RELs) claim that RELs will form the basis for generic, content-neutral expressions of rights in digital objects, suitable for a broad range of contexts. Generally modeled on access control languages, RELs are structured predominantly as permission languages - meaning that no rights exist in an object until they are affirmatively and specifically granted. The permissions-based exclusivity likely to result from existing RELs and digital rights management (DRM) contrasts with the myriad limitations on exclusivity in the Copyright Act. Unless REL designers and DRM system implementers consider these limitations, DRM systems will alter the copyright balance in the direction of copyright holder exclusivity. In this paper we proposed changes to RELs that would approximate the copyright balance more closely than current DRM technologies do.

"Implementing Copyright Limitations in Rights Expression Languages" (with Aaron Burstein), in DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT: ACM CCS-9 WORKSHOP, DRM 2002, WASHINGTON, DC, USA, NOVEMBER 18, 2002, REVISED PAPERS (LECTURE NOTES IN COMPUTER SCIENCE), Joan Feigenbaum, ed., Volume 2696, Springer-Verlag Publishing, pp. 137-154 (2003).

Click to download pdf