How To Use IMS Documents and Get Involved

How To Use IMS Documents and Get Involved

The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) invites interested parties and organizations to engage with the IMS GLC Public community. Our goal is widespread, mainstream use of learning technology interoperability standards across the globe, and to develop systems and services to accelerate adoption. Please contact us if you have some ideas on how IMS GLC can improve its policies and procedures to achieve this end.

The following paragraphs describe how to use the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) published documents, including descriptions of the intent of the usage license and copyright legends. The license and usage legends may evolve over time based on the desires of the IMS GLC Members and the needs of the global community of users of IMS GLC works.

  1. Background - Open Interoperability Standards

    Sometimes there is confusion of the term 'open' as used in the world of interoperability standards especially in comparison to 'open source' software. Whereas a typical and desired feature of open source software is customization, this is not a desired feature in an interface or data specification that is to be used for enforcing interoperability. Whereas some implementers of interoperability specifications may wish to experiment by customizing, the large majority want assurances that if they implement the standard that they will achieve interoperability. 'Open' in the context of interoperability standards therefore means openly available to those who wish to implement to achieve interoperability.

  2. Background - The Role of IMS GLC

    IMS GLC is a membership organization that has its primary responsibility to its members. The most important goal of IMS GLC work is to enable an environment of interoperability based on the investment made by the IMS GLC members. Therefore, IMS GLC policies and procedures purposely encourage usage of IMS GLC work in a manner that is consistent with achieving the interoperability desired by those who have invested in the IMS GLC work. However, IMS GLC also has as a priority the goal of enabling innovation via the usage of IMS GLC work. Therefore, IMS GLC attempts to represent in its policies and procedures the ability for IMS GLC work to be used as the basis for research into learning systems and the interoperability thereof.

  3. Purpose of IMS GLC Copyrights and License

    The purpose of IMS GLC copyrights and license is for the worldwide learning community to benefit from IMS GLC work, while providing incentives for those organizations using IMS GLC work to engage in and give back to the IMS GLC public community. This ensures that the work of IMS GLC is vital and can be maintained and evolved for the further benefit of the worldwide community. Many standards organizations issue only a standard copyright, but, unfortunately a simple copyright does not grant any rights whatsoever. In fact, it is the addition of the legends and license that grant explicit use rights that cannot be revoked going forward. IMS GLC takes this extra step so that users can be clear on their rights. Comments on how to improve the IMS GLC copyrights and license are welcome from all parties.

  4. Availability

    IMS GLC documents are free in electronic format. They are published on the IMS GLC web site ( under the "Developers" heading or All IMS GLC work eventually becomes public but access to work in process is for Members and Affiliates only. Public release is made when sufficient quality is achieved through implementations, testing, etc. IMS GLC believes that public release of a standard in a premature state can do more damage than good in building a stable and innovative marketplace.

  5. Review and comment on IMS GLC documents

    All individuals and organizations are invited to provide comments on IMS specifications through the IMS GLC public forums . In addition, there are public comment periods on specifications under development in the public draft stage of development. IMS GLC also submits documents for formal review and comment to various other organizations involved in learning standards development.

  6. Reference to IMS GLC documents

    It is very easy to give proper attribution for IMS GLC work that you might need to reference in your work. IMS GLC recommends this as being the easiest way to incorporate IMS GLC materials into your work. Incorporation by reference enables your organization to make use of IMS GLC work while pointing the users of your documents back to IMS so that IMS can remain vital and supportive. To incorporate by reference, simply cite the document name(s), URL(s) for online access and download and the page numbers - as you would any other online source materials or published works. Note that all IMS specifications and documents are available for download from a single URL specificationdownload.cfm. So for instance, if referencing the entire Learning Information Package document set, you would indicate in a footnote or bibliography:

    IMS Learner Information Package, Version 1.0.1 Final Specification, IMS Global Learning Consortium, January 2005, and

    If you are referencing a specific piece of text in a document, such as the Learner Information Best Practices Guide, you simply add the page reference(s). Such a citation may look like this:

    IMS Learner Information Best Practices and Implementation Guide Final Specification Version 1.0, IMS Global Learning Consortium, March 2001, pp 7-8, and

  7. Distribution of IMS GLC documents

    Any individual or organization can distribute IMS GLC documents as is. The potential distributor simply needs to fill out an online form to become a registered licensee. It is the same process required for downloading an IMS document at the following URL:

    Knowing who desires to distribute IMS GLC work helps build a vital IMS GLC public community.

  8. Development of derivative specifications or other documents from specifications, best practices, or other documents published by IMS GLC

    Development of derivative works from IMS GLC work is encouraged as long as proper attribution, including detailed citations as described in #6 above are included. However, IMS GLC does not automatically grant permission to distribute derivative works in any form other than limited distribution for research and development, non-commercial use. For those wishing to develop derivative works for distribution or commercial use, a legal agreement must be reached with IMS GLC. The reason is to avoid confusion in the marketplace with respect to what is the IMS GLC standard for interoperability. Normally, this should only impact other specifications and standards bodies, and not those implementing products or services using the specifications. IMS GLC has productive relationships with many other standards organizations. If you or your organization desire to create a document for publication that contains derivative works created from IMS published materials for distribution, please contact the IMS GLC COO or CEO with your request as early as possible to ensure that such an agreement can be reached. Since IMS GLC is the maintainer and arbiter of interoperability of its work, IMS GLC may request that an official IMS GLC update be performed to obtain consistency with the derivative work prior to any distribution. It will depend on the scope in terms of regional and industry segments covered by the derivative work. If the scope is relatively narrow, distribution without achievement of consistency with official IMS GLC specifications may be granted. If the scope is broad, IMS GLC will require that consistency is achieved through the IMS GLC process. Distribution of derivative works through standards bodies must also be approved by the IMS GLC membership on a case by case basis.

  9. Development of application profiles or reference models of IMS GLC specifications

    IMS GLC invites organizations from around the world to customize IMS GLC specifications for regional or vertical market needs. IMS GLC has implemented a recommended process for creation of application profiles and an application profile registry for open sharing of profiles. The tools provided by IMS GLC automatically check for consistency with the original IMS GLC specifications. IMS GLC requires that derivations of the IMS GLC generated bindings (the XML Binding Specification document in each document set) be registered for examination by the public and IMS GLC members and Affiliates. 

  10. Development of products implementing IMS GLC specifications

    Any individual or organization can develop products implementing the IMS GLC specifications, subject to any third-party licensing arrangements stipulated in the specifications (it is possible that a third party organization may have a written stated claim of a license for use of a specification - if so, this is included in the specification). The product implementer simply needs to fill out an online form to become a registered licensee. It is the same process required for downloading an IMS document at the following URL:

    Knowing who is implementing IMS GLC work helps IMS GLC support the implementers and build a vital IMS GLC public community.

  11. Development of consistency or conformance testing tools for IMS GLC specifications
    IMS GLC member organizations hold IMS GLC accountable for enabling interoperability through IMS GLC specifications and processes. Therefore, IMS GLC reserves the sole right to approve conformance testing tools or programs for IMS GLC specifications and derivative works for distribution or commercial purposes. However, these rights may be licensed to other parties in a manner similar to granting copyright permission to derivative works described in #8 above. Please contact the IMS GLC COO or CEO with your request as early as possible to ensure that such an agreement can be reached.
  12. Translations of IMS GLC Documents and Specifications
    IMS GLC believes that translation of its documents to many languages helps to enable worldwide participation. IMS GLC invites Contributing Members to translate IMS documents to languages, other than English, and distribute those documents, after a translation agreement is signed. If a Member organization desires to translate an IMS copyrighted document for publication, please contact the IMS GLC COO or CEO with your request as early as possible to ensure that such an agreement can be reached. IMS GLC will also distribute the translated documents via the IMS GLC web site. Non-member organizations can also translate IMS GLC documents after a translation agreement is signed, but distribution of the translated documents is solely through the IMS GLC web site.