This is an announcement with positive implications for cultural heritage organizations of all shapes and sizes. If you’re new to digital collections, dh + lib clearly suggests the advantage role this site can play in developing a “road map” for the kinds of conversations that inherently arise when developing digital collections on any scale. The extent to which the language has been vetted for use with an impressive amount of potential scenarios; I’m particularly pleased to see the inclusion of copyright not evaluated (we never would use that one, right?).
While the language and foresight at play here is impressive on the human readable end, I’m much more excited, however, for this tool’s potential for providing consistency and interoperability to digital collections metadata. In my own work, I am constantly reliant on consistent language to communicate the rights of digitally accessible objects for a plethora of materials that have disparate degrees of copyright protection. While facilitating the deposit of materials into our Institutional Repository I’ve made it a habit of creating consistent, marked up rights statements to maintain internal consistency with regards to various content types and rights holders–e.g. creative commons licensed materials for OA faculty papers vs. language prohibiting unauthorized commercial distribution of digitized institutional heritage objects. While this practice provides internal consistency of our records it is a far cry from machine readable. RightHolders.org fills in the gap with providing not only consistency to the language but provides a much needed URI to facilitate interoperability between linked data models. Based on this work it almost seems appropriate to go one step further with Qualified Dublin Core and develop a subclass of dc: Rights Statement that was explicitly defined by these specifications.