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This article proposes an architecture for distributing and managing digital contents, combining traditional access control and digital rights management (DRM) aspects, which executes the content usage control. The architecture defines security policies to establish access rights to protected content and to establish licenses to control the use of digital contents at the client side. This work also defines two models: a model for the authorization and rights distribution entity and a model for the license creation, distribution and management entity. Prototypes are implemented using XML-based technologies, which facilitate the integration of different modules of the architecture.