DOI Handbook


7 International DOI Foundation

This chapter describes the organization which governs the DOI® System.

7.1 Status
7.2 Role
      7.2.1 Summary
      7.2.2 Role as ISO 26324 Registration Authority
7.3 Relations with other organizations
7.4 Membership information
      7.4.1 Membership obligations
      7.4.2 Classes of membership
      7.4.3 Subsidiaries of member organizations
      7.4.4 Membership fees
7.5 Governance
      7.5.1 Board
      7.5.2 Board Members
      7.5.3 Board meetings
7.6 Member participation
      7.6.1 Member representative details
      7.6.2 Press and news
      7.6.3 IDF Members Strategy Meetings
      7.6.4 Trial prefix
      7.6.5 Marketing and branding materials

7.1 Status

The International DOI Foundation, Inc. (IDF) is a non-stock membership corporation organized and existing under and by virtue of the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware, USA, registered on 10 October 1997, registration number 2807134 8100. IDF’s corporate registered address is via CT Corporation: The Corporation Trust Company, Corporation Trust Center, 1209 Orange Street, Wilmington DE 19801, USA. The Foundation is controlled by a Board elected by the members of the Foundation. The Corporation is a “not-for-profit” organization, i.e. prohibited from activities not permitted to be carried on by a corporation exempt from US federal income tax under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 et seq. The operational address of the Foundation is: The DOI Foundation, c/o EDitEUR Limited, United House, North Road, London N79 DP, UK.

Costs incurred by the IDF are recouped from operation of the system via a self-funding business model. The implementation of the DOI system adds value, but necessarily incurs some resource costs in data management, infrastructure provision, and governance, all of which contribute to persistence. Persistence is a function of organisations, not technology.

A Managing Agent is contracted by the IDF, who represents IDF worldwide, and is responsible for the implementation of policies and management of all aspects of the affairs of the IDF. Functions such as technical operations, legal and financial services are outsourced.

7.2 Role

7.2.1 Summary

The IDF is the DOI system registration authority and maintenance agency and the central body which governs the DOI system. It is the common management and co-ordination body for DOI Registration Agencies; it also manages those aspects of the DOI system that are put through external standardization procedures, as well as those aspects of the DOI system that are dealt with through internal policies and procedures. Responsibilities of the registration authority include:

  • To promote the proper use of the DOI system (and ISO 26324, the ISO specification).
  • To maintain the DOI system technical infrastructure and data in accordance with the needs of the users.
  • To establish guidelines regarding allocation, registration, maintenance and dissemination of DOI names
  • To continuously adapt the DOI Handbook and guidelines to meet the needs of the market.
  • To respond to enquiries and information requests related to ISO 26324 in a timely manner.
  • To establish due diligence and quality assurance procedures of the DOI system.

7.2.2 Role as ISO 26324 Registration Authority

The International DOI Foundation is the ISO 26324 Registration Authority, governed by an agreement between ISO and the IDF. ISO 26324 contains the requirement that “the DOI system shall be administered by the ISO Registration Authority for this International Standard, hereafter referred to as the ISO 26324 Registration Authority, in accordance with the specifications outlined in Annex C”. Annex C of ISO 26324 provides the following description of the administration of the DOI system:


The DOI system shall be administered by the ISO 26324 Registration Authority in accordance with the specifications outlined below.

ISO 26324 Registration Authority

The ISO 26324 Registration Authority shall provide the following services.

  1. Promote, coordinate and supervise the DOI system in compliance with the specifications of this International Standard.
  2. Supply technology and infrastructure for resolution, metadata and registration functionality in compliance with the specifications of this International Standard and ensure that any changes in selected technology will be compatible with earlier DOI applications.
  3. Allocate unique DOI prefixes to registrants and maintain an accurate register of the DOI prefixes that have been assigned.
  4. Secure the maintenance of DOI names and associated DOI resolution records through the maintenance of a single logical directory of all registered DOI names, the DOI directory.
  5. Enable the registration and mapping of DOI metadata through the maintenance of, or agreed use of, an appropriate data dictionary.
  6. Implement policies and procedures governing the process of DOI registration, including rules to aid persistence of DOI names and interoperability within networks of DOI users.
  7. Develop, maintain and make available documentation for users of the DOI system, including the provision of a User Manual for registrants which shall specify implementation details in conformance with this International Standard.
  8. Review relevant technology developments and maintain current information on appropriate syntax character encoding, resolution software implementations, etc.
  9. Where multiple DOI names are assigned to the same referent, e.g. through assignment of DOI names by two different registrants, provide a unifying record for that referent.

Conditions for registration

The ISO 26324 Registration Authority shall ensure that each registrant complies with the following conditions.

  1. The DOI suffix assigned within their registrant code is unique, thereby ensuring that each DOI name is unique within the DOI system.
  2. Each referent registered is assigned only one DOI name. Where multiple DOI names are inadvertently assigned to the same referent, provide a unifying record for that referent.
  3. Each DOI name assigned is registered with the required Metadata Declaration (see Annex B) in the DOI resolution system, following the specifications established by the ISO 26324 Registration Authority and any further rules established for its internal management.

Technical duties of ISO 26324 Registration Authority

The ISO 26324 Registration Authority shall provide the following technical services by means of a User Manual (this web site and handbook).

  1. Maintain a list of approved proxy servers (such as which resolve DOI names in web browsers).
  2. Provide current information on appropriate encoding of characters.
  3. Provide current information on resolution technology.
  4. Maintain a list of representations used in other schemes.
  5. Provide information on common encodings.
  6. Specify, if required, more constrained rules for the assignment of DOI names to objects for services which make use of the DOI system. Where specified, these rules shall be compatible with the overall DOI system specification and shall not form part of this International Standard.
  7. Publish rules to aid persistence of identification (e.g. requirements for maintenance of records, default resolution services).
  8. Publish the DOI Kernel Metadata Declaration that specifies the metadata elements for each DOI name.
  9. Provide output metadata to support the services of the DOI system.
  10. Establish format and schema specifications for input and service metadata declarations.
  11. Provide a data dictionary as the repository for all data elements and allowed values used in DOI metadata specifications to facilitate interoperability across selected existing schemes.
  12. Provide a data dictionary as the repository for all data elements and allowed values (the items which may be used as values of each element) used in DOI metadata specifications.
  13. Provide the data dictionary mappings of other relevant schemes, as determined by the ISO 26324 Registration Authority (such as ISO codes for territories, currencies and languages).
  14. Specify a set of allowed values of each kernel element.
  15. Specify an XML schema of the DOI Kernel Metadata Declaration.
  16. Register sets of other metadata elements and sub-elements as needed.
  17. Prevent duplication of a DOI name once registered.

7.3 Relations with other organizations

A key role of the IDF is representation to organizations which are of strategic importance in the implementation of the DOI system. These include:

  • Vocabulary Mapping Framework, for which the IDF provides hosting facilities and participates in governance and continuity activities.
  • Handle System, in which it participates in governance and continuity activities. IDF currently has contractual agreements for provision and persistence of the Handle System with CNRI. As a result, CNRI worked with IDF and other large Handle System users to create a new international organization, the DONA Foundation, to manage the Handle System and related Digital Object Architecture components going forward. The foundation was constituted as a non-profit organization in Geneva, Switzerland on January 20, 2014.

The IDF also maintains formal and informal alliances and liaisons with several organisations. A significant element of the work of the IDF lies in tracking standards developments in related areas, understanding their significance to the context within which the DOI system operates, and establishing working relationships with the responsible organizations and projects to ensure that appropriate co-operation is fostered to mutual benefit and that parallel developments do not remain in ignorance of one another.

The IDF is also the formal Registration Authority of the ISO/IEC MPEG21 Rights Data Dictionary. This standard is not a requirement of or for DOI use. For further information, send questions to

7.4 Membership information

The activities of the foundation are controlled by its members, operating under a legal Charter and formal By-laws. Membership is open to all organizations with an interest in digital network publishing, content distribution, rights management, and related enabling technologies. A list of current members is available here.

7.4.1 Membership obligations

Members agree to support the goals of the IDF, which ensure that the DOI system is an internationally adopted standard for digital object identification, and to participate in the activities of the IDF. By participating in membership of the IDF and accessing the password-controlled portions of this site, members agree to comply with the IDF’s By laws, Agreements and Policies as these may be updated from time to time. Members agree to restrict access to the password-controlled portions of this site to members of the International DOI Foundation.

7.4.2 Classes of membership

There are four classes of membership: General, Registration Agency, Charter, and Affiliate. General, RA and Charter Members are entitled to vote in annual IDF elections within their own category of membership. Affiliate membership does not carry voting rights. Note that membership of the IDF is NOT required in order to be a customer of a DOI Registration Agency and to assign DOI names.

  • General Membership is offered to any organization supporting the development of the DOI system that is not a Registration Agency. General membership is a pre-requisite for any organization applying to become a Registration Agency. If a General Member subsequently is appointed as a Registration Agency, their membership transfers from the General to the RA category.
  • Registration Agency Membership is only available to organizations that (a) have participated in the IDF as a general member; (b) have made a successful application to the IDF Board to be appointed as a Registration Agency; and (c) have signed a Registration Agency Agreement with the IDF. The primary role of Registration Agencies is to provide services and applications to Registrants by allocating DOI prefixes, registering DOI names and providing the necessary infrastructure to allow Registrants to declare and maintain metadata and state data.
  • Charter Membership was initially established for founding IDF organisations and is only offered to organizations whose main activities are in the creation or production and dissemination of intellectual property. The Board of the IDF reserves the right to determine eligibility for the Charter membership category.
  • Affiliate Membership is restricted to professional associations who have one or more of their current members in current membership of the IDF. Organisations outside this scope may be invited or admitted at the Board’s sole discretion. Affiliate membership does not carry voting rights, and Affiliate members are not eligible for Board membership. Registration Agencies are not eligible for this category of membership.

7.4.3 Subsidiaries of member organizations

The rights of membership participation flow downward to subsidiaries of members as follows:

  • For organizations which themselves have member organizations, the immediate direct benefits of membership as defined in the Rules for Members (such as eligibility to vote, participate in meetings and access to the member-only Web site) only extend to the staff and officers of those organizations, and do not flow through to their own members (who may decide to join the IDF under their own auspices).
  • In the case of government agencies and departments, or educational institutions, this is interpreted to include sub-agencies, departments, laboratories, etc. When a subsidiary takes advantage of this provision, participation in IDF activities must be coordinated through the Member’s IDF representative. Participants so authorized will officially represent the Member organization. The subsidiary may not indicate in its publicity that it is itself an IDF Member. Subsidiaries are, however, permitted to join the IDF in their own right if they wish.
  • A Member may designate an employee of one of its subsidiaries to be its IDF representative. Such might be desirable when the member wishes its name to be listed, but a subsidiary is the focal point of all IDF activity.

7.4.4 Membership fees

Membership fees fall due annually on the anniversary of joining. US members will be invoiced their member fees in US dollars and non-US members will be invoiced their member fees in GBP£ converted at a fixed rate of 1.86:1.

The current annual fees are:

  • Charter Members: $US 70,000, reduced to $40,000 if the Charter Member is also a founding lender to the foundation.
  • General Members: $US 35,000. The fee for General Members may be reduced at the sole discretion of the Board, subject to a minimum fee of $US 11,500 per annum.
  • Registration Agency Members: Fees are included as part of operational fees, allocated annually on a cost-sharing model. See Chapter 8, Registration Agencies, Section 8.6.
  • Affiliate Members: $2,000.

There are no differences in member rights and benefits between Charter and General, nor for those for which a reduced fee is payable. Criteria which will be considered in applications for such reduction include, in particular, any of the following:

  • Organisations with a significant role in the creation or ongoing support of the Foundation.
  • Not-for-profit organizations, which have annual revenue, as measured by the most recent audited statement, of less than $US 10,000,000.
  • For-profit organizations which have annual revenue, as measured by the most recent audited statement, of less than $US 10,000,000, and are either not majority-owned by an entity with over $US 10,000,000 revenue which would fulfil the criteria for IDF membership eligibility in its own right, or are a subsidiary of an existing Member of the foundation.

If a General member subsequently is appointed as a Registration Agency, their membership transfers from the General to the RA category, and any unexpired portion of the previous General membership fee is credited to their RA membership dues.

In general, it is likely that the cost of fees will be deductible as a business expense of the joining entity. The detailed question of deductibility is, however, a matter for the tax advisors of the entity that is joining, and it is not governed by IDF’s status as a not-for-profit entity.

7.5 Governance

7.5.1 Board

The International DOI Foundation is governed by its members, through an elected board. The Board officers include a Chair, Vice Chair, and Treasurer, each elected from the Board of Directors. The members of the Board of the IDF are not remunerated for their services to the IDF. The Board appoints a Managing Agent responsible for managing the IDF and carrying out policy formulated by the Foundation. The Board is responsible for all aspects of management of the DOI system, including policy formulation and standards maintenance.

The Executive Committee is a subcommittee of the Board, elected by the Board, consisting of not fewer than three Directors and chaired by the Chairman of the IDF Board. It may meet between Board meetings to deal with matters not requiring a meeting of the full Board, or requiring urgent discussion. In practice, the Executive Committee normally consists of the Chair, Vice Chair and Treasurer. The Executive Committee always includes representation of both RAs and non-RAs.

7.5.2 Board members

  1. All Charter Members are automatically members of the Board;
  2. All Registration Agencies are automatically members of the Board after one full year of RA membership;
  3. General Members are represented by one seat on the Board held for a three-year term, nominated from amongst the existing General Members of the Foundation. Procedures for election in the event of more than one nomination are defined in the By-Laws.
  4. Affiliate Members are not represented on the Board.

The Board reviews the number and distribution of Board seats from time to time. Although Board membership is by member organization not by individual, an individual representative is required to be named by each organization. That individual will represent the organization at all board meetings and in voting issues; substitution of another individual from the organization at board meetings is possible by advance agreement of the Chairman of the board. Should the individual leave the Member organization, or step down from the representation role, the organization will name a replacement.

7.5.3 Board meetings

The IDF Board meets regularly. Issues which any member feels should be considered by the Board should first be brought to the attention of the Managing Agent or a representative board member. Board meetings are open to all members who may attend as observers and participate but not vote, except for designated closed Executive Sessions.

7.6 Member participation

7.6.1 Member representative details

Each member organisation must provide one named IDF representative, who will be responsible for IDF relations, including voting rights. Members must ensure that the IDF is kept informed of any changes. Additional persons from the member organisation may participate in all IDF activities.

7.6.2 Press and news

Members are requested to add IDF to the circulation of all their press releases and news announcements, and notify IDF of forthcoming relevant events and activities. Selected news about members’ DOI activities may be carried on the DOI News page, with a link to the original announcement.

7.6.3 IDF Members Strategy Meetings

Strategy meetings are held twice yearly, usually one in mid-year and one at the end of the year, and are open to all members and non-member guests (by invitation only). Members zre advised of forthcoming meetings by email.

7.6.4 Trial prefix

On joining the IDF, a unique DOI prefix is available for experimental purposes for each member. Contact the Directory Manager ( to request one, and discuss possible usage. The number of DOI names allocated with this experimental prefix will be subject to review and may be limited at the discretion of the IDF. If further DOI prefixes are required for non-experimental purposes, members must work with one of the Registration Agency members. Trial prefix use is particularly intended for those members wishing to develop applications and move to later Registration Agency status.

7.6.5 Marketing & branding materials

IDF members are provided with the DOI brand identity information currently in use which should be adopted by all IDF members. Marketing materials are included with the identity guidance.

Updated March 8, 2018