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HS Terms Graphic

Welcome to the Handle System

The Handle System provides efficient, extensible, and secure resolution services for unique and persistent identifiers of digital objects, and is a component of CNRI's Digital Object Architecture. Digital Object Architecture provides a means of managing digital information in a network environment. A digital object has a machine and platform independent structure that allows it to be identified, accessed and protected, as appropriate. A digital object may incorporate not only informational elements, i.e., a digitized version of a paper, movie or sound recording, but also the unique identifier of the digital object and other metadata about the digital object. The metadata may include restrictions on access to digital objects, notices of ownership, and identifiers for licensing agreements, if appropriate.

The Handle System includes an open set of protocols, a namespace, and a reference implementation of the protocols. The protocols enable a distributed computer system to store identifiers, known as handles, of arbitrary resources and resolve those handles into the information necessary to locate, access, contact, authenticate, or otherwise make use of the resources. This information can be changed as needed to reflect the current state of the identified resource without changing its identifier, thus allowing the name of the item to persist over changes of location and other related state information. Some examples of applications that use HDL® identifier and resolution services as infrastructure are rights management applications, digital object registries and repositories, and institutional data preservation and archiving.

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