Example for a content certificate, image via pixabay.com

The Open Content Certification Protocol (OCCP)

Sebastian Posth
6 min readSep 18, 2020



Why do we need content certification? What we are seeing at this moment is the convergence of a number of independent developments that will shape the future of digital media publishing and underscore the need for content certification:

Disinformation and Fake News

Digital media content is ubiquitous, online. Songs, videos, texts and images are published and shared on websites, blogs or on social media, an ever increasing proportion of news and media consumption is moving online.

In this area of abundance of content, (intentional) misinformation and (unintentional) disinformation is becoming a problem for societies. How can consumers and online platforms evaluate content integrity and learn what information to trust or not? It requires effort, knowledge and skills to verify the authenticity of original publications. And it requires simple and reliable methods and tools to check whether they have been manipulated or not.

Policy makers in all parts of the world are trying to tackle the current media crisis and fight misinformation and fake news by enforcing an increased transparency and greater accountability for content that is published online by users and rightsholders.

See also initiatives in the US, like the Deeptrust Alliance www.deeptrustalliance.org or the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI), led by Adobe, Twitter and the New York Times: https://content authenticity.org.

Missing Identifiers and Attribution

Proper content identification and attribution are fundamental prerequisites to tackle fake news and misinformation.

But how can consumers validate content when identifiers and basic metadata are often missing? Although some media industries use standard identifiers (such as ISBN, DOI, ISRC etc.), most of the existing content online does not have an open, standardised and reproducible identifier. Without sophisticated digital content-derived identifiers, it is a time- consuming and difficult endeavour for consumers to unambiguously identify digital content and understand, who originally created and published it. Also, we can also observe a political agenda from the European policy makers for more transparency and accountability.

Missing Rights Information

Creators demand respect, attribution and a fair remuneration for their creative work. But without basic metadata, licensing terms and other rights management information, inseparably connected to the content, it is simply impossible to properly credit a work or learn about the terms of use.

Content creators and other rightsholders lack an easy way to provide such information. It often results in the misuse or abuse, when content is published in an inappropriate manner without attribution or available licensing terms.

Networked peer-to-peer transactions in the Web3.0 environment create a need for efficiency and automation of content licensing.

EU Directive 2019/790

The new European Directive 2019/790 on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which has to be implemented by the national parliaments by June 2021, will introduce new regulations to the content markets. E.g. article 17 requires online content-sharing service providers (OCSSP) to clear the rights of content that has been published on their platforms or uploaded by the users of their services. It is almost impossible that the requirements of the Directive can be implemented in national laws without smart technology for automated content identification and automated retrieval of basic and verifiable metadata and rights management information.

The Directive includes a clear recommendation for rightsholders to “provide the service providers with relevant and necessary information”. This means that in order to benefit from the Directive and avoid misappropriation of content online, rightsholders need to verifiably publish reliable, accurate and comprehensive metadata in a timely manner, and make rights management information openly available and easily accessible for automated retrieval. For rightsholders we conclude a legal necessity to act.

Digital Commerce

Despite the fact that the internet itself is decentralised in its technical nature, only a limited number of popular applications benefit from the content generated by creative individuals and other users. It is the same with professional digital media content online — only a few centralised retailers and platforms control the terms, supply and demand, access to content, user accounts, data and communication.

Business models of media organisations are at stake due to this concentration of power and data by large intermediaries, retailers and platforms and the inefficiency of the markets which results from this situation.

Lack of trust creates oligopolies. Only when trust in content authenticity, attribution and licensing information will no longer be exclusively guaranteed by large and centralised organisations, competition will be re-introduced to the media markets. Existing technology, open-source software as well as the suggested open, transparent standards for content identification and content certification can support this development. We observe a requirement for innovation in the digital media marketplaces.

Open Content Certification Protocol

The Open Content Certification Protocol (OCCP) suggests a process to create and verify content certificates by using open, content-derived, decentralised content identifier technology on public blockchain networks. It is based on the International Standard Content Code (ISCC) and the decentralised cross-chain registry protocol.

Open Content Certification — Overview

The OCCP provides a description of the process and involved technologies that can be used by creative individuals, media organisations or consumers to generate or verify certificates for digital media content.

Content certificates allow rightsholders to inseparably and verifiably connect information, basic metadata, licensing terms and other rights management information to digital content.

Public organisations can act as certification authorities. By means of one blockchain transaction certifiers openly testify that they have verified the identity of an entity and acknowledge that a specific assertion or claim to a digital asset can verifiably be associated with this entity.

It is the goal of the certification process to create trust in assertions, claims and the authenticity of the original content, and to ensure accountability of entities, even if they must or prefer to remain pseudonymous.

Content Certificates are the result of the certification process. They are issued implicitly when a certification transaction is confirmed on any public blockchain network. Thus, content certificates are open, discoverable and verifiable by anyone online and accessible for individuals or systems, using software applications or APIs.

Services and applications can process content certificates in an automated way so that their users can verify the authenticity of digital media content, the identities of certifiers and entities, and their assertions or claims to the content by having access to the digital assets, only.


Content certification will benefit content creators, media organisations and all rightsholders in the value chain of the cultural and creative industries who want to publish certified content and verifiably attach trustworthy information: basic metadata, copyright ownership information, licensing terms, rights management information and other assertions or claims to digital media content.

Platforms (or online content-sharing service providers (OCSSP), according to the Directive 2019/790) will be able to identify digital content, verify the authenticity of the original content, receive ownership information, get access to trustworthy basic metadata, copyright ownership, licensing terms, rights management information and other assertions or claims for certified digital media content, and potentially clear the rights of media assets and user generated content in an automated way.

Consumers will be empowered to conveniently identify original content and reliably verify its authenticity, to identify the entities associated with specific assertions or claims, or to express and utilise digital content ownership.

Read Further

NOTE: Open Content Certification Protocol (OCCP) whitepaper is currently under review!

Learn about the International Standard Content Code (ISCC): https://iscc.codes


Connect and reach out if you would like to learn more:

Sebastian Posth
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/posth/
Follow Sebastian on Twitter: @posth



Sebastian Posth

Building Liccium Trust Engine @liccium – digitally sign your original creative works — director @iscc_foundation , convenor ISO/CD 24138