A content-based authorization model for digital libraries

Nabil R. Adam, Vijayalakshmi Atluri, Elisa Bertino, Elena Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Digital Libraries (DLs) introduce several challenging requirements with respect to the formulation, specification, and enforcement of adequate data protection policies. Unlike conventional database environments, a DL environment typically is characterized by dynamic user population, often making accesses from remote locations, and by an extraordinarily large amount of multimedia information, stored in a variety of formats. Moreover, in a DL environment, access policies are often specified based on user qualifications and characteristics, rather than user identity (for example, a user can be given access to an R-rated video only if he/ she is older than 18 years). Another crucial requirement is the support for content-dependent authorizations on digital library objects (for example, all documents containing discussions on how to operate guns must be made available only to users who are 18 or older). Since traditional authorization models do not adequately meet access control requirements typical to DLs, in this paper, we propose a content-based authorization model suitable for a DL environment. Specifically, the most innovative features of our authorization model are: 1) flexible specification of authorizations based on the qualifications and characteristics of users (including positive and negative), 2) both content-dependent and content-independent access control to digital library objects, and 3) varying granularity of authorization objects ranging from sets of library objects to specific portions of objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-315
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


  • Access control
  • Authorization
  • Digital libraries


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