ODRL Creative Commons Profile

Working Draft: 30 November 2004

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Latest version:
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Renato Iannella, ODRL Initiative,


This Working Draft describes the semantics of the Creative Commons licenses and how they can be represented using a Profile of the ODRL rights expression language.

Status of this document

This is a public Working Draft of the ODRL Creative Commons Profile document. It has been produced by the ODRL Creative Commons Profile Working Group. Comments on this document should be sent to editors and discussion of this document takes place on the working group mailing list.

Publication as a Working Draft does not imply endorsement by the ODRL Initiative. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress.

Table of contents

1 Overview
2 Creative Commons Licenses
3 Mapping to ODRL
4 Example Scenarios
Appendix A: Data Dictionary
Appendix B: XML Schemas
Appendix C: CC License Mapping
Change History

1 Overview

The Creative Commons [CC] project has created a number of licenses and semantics for describing usage rights over content. The CC licenses are primarily intended to convey the semantics to the end user of the content. The ODRL is an advanced rights expression language (REL) [ODRL]. The objective of this document is to outline a Profile of the ODRL REL that incorporates the semantics and licenses from CC. This will then enable those who require more advanced REL mechanisms to utilise both the CC license semantics and the ODRL REL features.

The requirements of this Profile are to:

2 Creative Commons Licenses

The CC Licenses are described by their characteristics, which come in three types:

These CC license characteristics are defined by a series of URIs, which are (respectively):


There are six formal licenses defined by CC (in version 2.0). These six include various combinations of the above eight terms and conditions. These are, including their unique URIs:

Appendix C defines these CC Licenses in terms of the new XML elements required to express the same semantics using the ODRL/CC Profile.

CC defines other license types (such as Sampling etc) but does not define any new machine semantics other then those listed above.

The purpose of this Profile is not to replace the standard CC licenses, but to allow additional semantics to be expressed in separate ODRL offers or agreements.

3 Mapping to ODRL

The CC Permissions and Requirements map directly to ODRL Permissions and Requirements. ODRL already covers the semantics of CC Attribution and the others are defined in the Profile Data Dictionary (See Appendix A) and extension XML schema (See Appendix B).

CC defines two Permissions that all licenses include:

More specifically [CC-Full], Reproduction includes the right: These allow the typical private end-use rights, which ODRL makes explicit in its Play, Display, Execute, and Print Permissions.

The Distribution [CC-Full] includes the right:

Both Reproduction and Distribution are examples of new semantics that are captured in the ODRL/CC Profile (see Appendix A and B).

Given now that there is an overlap in semantics of the new CC terms and the existing ODRL terms, new ODRL expressions will need to ensure that the final semantics are clear and unambiguous. For example, since the CC Reproduction right is a superset of the ODRL Print right, any expression including CC Reproduction and ODRL Print will be expressing the same rights. However, there maybe an issue if the Print included a Constraint, as then the two Permissions are in conflict. There is no general technical solution to this as the semantics involved are overlapping so care must be undertaken when creating such expressions.

However, in the cases were the rights holder does wish to be more specific with the CC Reproduction right, then the expression should not include the CC Reproduction right but only the more specific ODRL Permissions and Constraints. For example, the rights holder may only wish that their work be displayed (publicly and privately) and printed once (privately). In this case the expression would include the ODRL display and print with a Constraint, and the CC Distribution.

The current ODRL 1.1 model does not support the concept of CC Prohibitions. This is because the ODRL model indicates that if a right (permission) does not explicitly appear in the expression then it is not allowed. Hence, in an ODRL expression, if Commercial Use was prohibited, then it would simply not be mentioned in the XML code. Conversely, if Commercial Use was explicitly allowed (such as the ODRL Sell permission), then it would appear in the XML code.

There are two ways in which the CC Commercial Use semantics can be represented in ODRL. The first way would be to define Commercial Use in the negative and to make this an ODRL Constraint. The second way would be to utilise the existing ODRL Purpose constraint and define a URI for non-Commercial use. For the purposes of this Profile, it would be more flexible to define a new NonCommercialUse Constraint.

It would also be useful to add links from the ODRL expression to one of the standard CC Licenses. This will allow access to the human-readable versions of the CC semantics, as well as link the two machine expressions. The context of the entire ODRL expression can be used to indicate this reference link. Note, however, that referencing the CC License URI is an informative link - the ODRL expression is normative.

4 Example Scenarios

Consider the scenario described on the CC website about Anita and her song Volcano Love. Anita chooses the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC license. We can now express that using the ODRL CC Profile, and include additional information about Anita (as the rights holder), and direct links to the content (asset).

        Anita Music

Extending the above example, lets say that Anita wants to make two additions. Firstly she wants to limit the Distribution permission to the USA only. Secondly, she wants to make clear the exact text that should be used for the Attribution requirement. In this case, the above example would be modified with the following two updated elements.


              This work created by Anita Music with lyrics by
              Mary Music and sound by Jacky Music. 

Next, Anita wishes to make the lyrics to her song available. Anita chooses the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC license as this is the closest. However, she decides that she only wants the public to print her lyrics no more than once, so she includes the Display and Print permission with a Count constraint. She does not include the Reproduction permission and does not include a Reference to the CC License (as the semantics are not the same).


Appendix A: ODRL/CC Profile Data Dictionary (Normative)

The Creative Commons Profile data dictionary definitions:

Type Identifier Definition Comment
Permission Reproduction The work may be reproduced ?
Permission Distribution The work (and, if authorized, derivative works) may be distributed, publicly displayed, and publicly performed ?
Permission DerivativeWorks Derivative works may be created and reproduced ?
Permission NonCommercialUse Rights may NOT be exercised for commercial purposes ?
Requirement Notice Copyright and license notices must be kept intact ?
Requirement ShareAlike Derivative works must be licensed under the same terms as the original work ?
Requirement SourceCode Source code (the preferred form for making modifications) must be provided for all derivative works ?

Appendix B: ODRL/CC Profile XML Schema (Normative)

The Creative Commons Profile data dictionary XML Schema:


The physical location of this XML Schema is:


Appendix C: CC License Mapping (Normative)

The Creative Commons License definitions and corresponding XML elements required to express the license:

CC License Name
Permission Constraint Requirement







Note: The above elements would use the appropriate XML Namespace prefix.


[CC] Creative Commons Project

[CC-Full] Creative Commons - Baseline rights and restrictions in all licenses

[ODRL] Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL), Version 1.1. Technical Specification, ODRL Initiative, August 2002

Change History

Section Description
1 Added explicit requirements
2 Make the purpose clear.
3 Decided on new Constraint for NonCommercialUse. Added reference link to CC license URI. Describe mixing elements
4 Updated scenarios.
Appendix A New
Appendix B Renamed (from Appendix A). Added Schema location. Added new Permission.
Appendix C New