Unraveling Challenges: Rights Statements in Digital Cultural Heritage Collections

Hannah Stitzlein, Myung Ja K. Han, Sara R. Benson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Describing copyright for cultural heritage objects in a rights statement can be a complicated undertaking when there is not enough information about the object. Similarly the complexity and misunderstanding of copyright law can lead to erroneous claims of copyright ownership when objects are digitized. These challenges are further compounded by confusingly written and poorly implemented rights information, leaving the user in doubt as to how they may interact with, or reuse a digital object. An audit of rights statements in the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub (IDHH) was performed to determine how standardized rights statements from RightsStatements.org can mitigate some of the issues surrounding information used in the rights field of metadata for digital objects. The audit highlighted common issues found throughout the digital object metadata harvested by the IDHH, which were then analyzed to understand how contributors use and apply the rights field. Possible solutions to these issues are included, such as copyright education and outreach programs that help contributing institutions understand copyright laws and the use of proper rights statements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-150
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Library Metadata
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


  • Copyright for digitized objects
  • digital cultural heritage materials
  • digital libraries
  • metadata
  • standardized rights statements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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