The Digital Licensing Framework (“DLF”) is an initiative of the Technology Strategy Board (“TSB”) within its IC tomorrow programme.

The DLF is a web-based communication system – a “copyright hub” - designed to facilitate the exchange of copyright licensing information between the users (“rights users”) and the owners of copyright works (“rights holders”).  The TSB has built and manages the messaging hub at the core of the system. A number of major rights holders from a variety of content verticals have provided content information for use within the back end of the system. The TSB has procured the development of user interfaces forming the front end of the system.

The DLF plays no role in the actual granting of copyright licences. It supports systems that on the front end allow rights users to formulate precise enquiries about the use(s) they want to make of particular copyright works and address them, via the messaging hub, to participating rights holders. When the rights holder in the particular copyright work receives such an enquiry, an automated response can be delivered through the system to the rights user indicating whether or not a licence for that use is available.

By way of example, a rights user who wants to use a particular piece of recorded music in an advertising film will formulate, through the system’s user interface, an enquiry about the availability of a synchronisation licence for the music in question. The system will identify the rights holder of the synchronisation right in the music in question and transmit the enquiry to that entity. The rights user will then receive one of three responses from the rights holder;

  • Yes: a licence is available here (link to rights holder’s licensing site or other facility)
  • No: no licence is granted for such use of that work
  • Maybe: call our office to discuss or a URL link to the rights holder’s website.

Based on the response received the rights user is able to follow up with licensing process directly with the rights holder (or abandon the enquiry).

At present, the DLF is being run as a research project essentially to test different aspects of basic components of a copyright hub: the user interfaces; the language used for expressing and conveying licence enquiries; the most efficient technical architecture. The system has been built to function in a variety of different modes and environments. The code of the messaging hub built by the TSB is open source.

In short, the DLF is an open model for a copyright hub that could be implemented in a variety of contexts. 

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