Access Control List Configuration

This document describes how Opencast stores and handles access control settings for series and episodes and what configuration options related to this are available.

Access Control Lists

An access control list (ACL) in the context of Opencast consists of a global deny rule (no one is allowed access) and a set of roles with rules attached to define access. Hence, it is effectively a white-listing of roles to grant access and it means that all roles and/or actions not defined in an access control list are denied access.

For example, the following rule defines read access for role 1 and read/write access for role 2:

role action access
ROLE1 read true
ROLE2 read true
write true

Opencast can also deny access locally (e.g. deny write access for role 1) which can be interesting if merging of ACLs is used. But this is not handled in the user interface and using this should therefore be avoided.

System administrators are an exception to these rules. A user with ROLE_ADMIN will always be granted access, regardless of the rule-set attached to an event. Organizational administrators are also granted access in some cases.

Global Rules

In case an event has no custom access control list defined, a global rule set is associated with the event. The global rules consist only of the general deny rule. Hence, no access is allowed to anyone except administrators..

Series and Episode Rules

Access control lists can be specified both on series and on episode level. This means that multiple rule sets can be attached to an episode which is part of a series. Opencast can handle this in multiple ways.

The handling is specified by the merge mode configured in etc/org.opencastproject.authorization.xacml.XACMLAuthorizationService.cfg. It defines the relationship between series and episode access control lists, if both are attached to an event. If only one list is attached, its rules are always active. If multiple lists are attached, the following modes define Opencast's behavior:

Merge Mode “override” (Default)

The episode ACL takes precedence over the series ACL. This means that the series ACL will be completely ignored as soon as the episode has an ACL, no matter what rules are set in either. This allows users to define general rules for a series which can be completely redefined on an episode and which are not influenced by changes later made to the series. This is also a very simple rule and thus easy to understand.


read write read write read write
series allow allow allow allow
episode allow allow
active allow allow

Merge Mode “roles”

Series and episode ACLs are merged based on the roles defined within. If both the series and the episode define a rule for a specific role (user or group), the episode's rule takes precedence. Rules for roles defined in one ACL only are always part of the resulting active ACL.


read write read write read write
series allow allow allow allow
episode allow allow
active allow allow allow allow

Merge Mode “actions”

ACLs are merged based on the actions (read, write, …) contained within both ACLs. If a rule is specified for a tuple of role and action in both ACLs, the rule specified in the episode ACL takes precedence.


read write read write read write
series allow allow allow allow
episode allow allow
active allow allow allow allow allow

Switching Modes

Switching modes is not necessarily simple since access control lists are cached at several places. Hence, while changing this value will have an immediate effect on newly processed videos, an index rebuild is inevitable to update cached data and republications to update old events may be necessary.

Updating Series Permissions

Depending on the admin interface configuration in etc/org.opencastproject.organization-mh_default_org.cfg, the admin interface behaves differently when series access control lists are modified and may also overwrite episode rules of that series. Possible modes of operation are:


Templates of access control lists can be specified for the administrative user interface. They are a convenient way to apply a defined set of rules all at once instead of applying each rule one after another. Templates stored in etc/acl/ are loaded at start-up for all organizations. Templates can also be created and managed in the admin interface.

Additional Actions

Opencast uses two default actions for access authorization on events:

More actions can be added but are usually ignored by Opencast. Though they may be handy to specify rules for external applications.

In case you need other actions, you can configure the admin interface to allow adding additional ones. These are configured in etc/listprovides/ For example, this would configure the two actions, Upload and Download, to be available in the permission editor of the admin interface:
# This list provider allows you to configure custom actions that can be added
# to ACLs. The default actions are read and write.
# The pattern for adding them is
# UI_LABEL=actionId

Using a unique prefix for your custom actions like this example did with myorg_ is recommended to make it unlikely that later Opencast versions introduce the same action in a different context.