Weblog

2009 August

WIPO, CC, and Nurturing the Public Domain

Aurelia J. Schultz, August 10th, 2009

For the past year, Creative Commons has been working on tools to help increase access to works in the public domain. Often, it is not clear whether a work has entered the public domain or is still covered by copyright protection. This lack of clarity can cause a lot of problems, and Creative Commons is not the only one concerned about the issue.

For example, WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization) has begun research on tools for increasing access to the public domain, which relates to what we do at CC in several ways. Part of the WIPO research includes a comparative Scoping Study that will look at different countries’ legislation to see how how the public domain is defined and how public domain works are located. Encouragingly, Severine Dusollier, head of Intellectual Property Rights at Centre de Recherches Informatique et Droit and Creative Commons’ Belgium project lead, is in charge of this study. CC conducted a similar study last year and we’re paying close attention to how our results relate to WIPO’s. (Please note: the CC study is closed; no new input from the form will be accepted.) Part of WIPO’s study reviews private copyright documentation systems, including Creative Commons. Other samples in the study will include traditional collective rights management organizations.

Also of interest to our work at CC is WIPO’s expansion of a previous survey that takes an in-depth look at how deposits work as counterparts to a copyright registration system. One effect of registration, especially with a deposit requirement, is that it helps accrue a central collection location of works. These collections then contain copies of the works as well as relevant information necessary to make a determination of whether or not a work is in the public domain. WIPO’s work with registration and deposit systems is an important step in the quest to identify the contours of the public domain; however, not all copyright-protected work is registered or deposited.

Furthermore, finding information about non-registered or non-deposited works can be very difficult. For this reason, Creative Commons has begun building tools to identify, tag, and increase access to public domain works. Two of these tools, CC0 and the Public Domain Certification Tool, are already in existence and available for your use. A third, the Public Domain Assertion Tool, is on its way.

CC0 allows a copyright owner to waive rights in a work, effectively placing it as close as possible to being in the public domain. Finding works placed in the public domain through the CC0 waiver is easy, because CC0 is machine-readable just like the CC licenses. Our Public Domain Certification Tool can currently be used to indicate that a particular work is already in the public domain. But we are also working on a more robust version of this tool called the Public Domain Assertion tool. This tool will allow anyone to indicate facts about a particular digital instance of a work, giving individuals and institutions a way to participate in making our cultural heritage more user-friendly.

The tool’s output will link to relevant facts and a human-readable deed to assist users in deciding whether a work is in the public domain, and thus available for use without copyright restriction in one or more jurisdictions. For example, U.S. works may be in the pubic domain for any number of reasons but may not be in the public domain world-wide. Diane Peters, CC’s General Counsel, noted that the new tool will “increas[e] the effective size [of the public domain], even if due to copyright extensions works are not naturally added to the public domain.”

So stay tuned for the updates from the future of the public domain!

Aurelia J. Schultz, Google Policy Fellow and Joe Merante, Legal Intern

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CC Network “a truly inspirational approach”

Mike Linksvayer, August 5th, 2009

Chris Messina on OpenID: the unseen branded revenue opportunity:

What better way to both support Creative Commons and show off your patronage than by identifying yourself across the web with your very own unique, secure, privacy-protecting creativecommons.net OpenID (just like Zach Beauvais)?

For a mere $50 minimum donation ($25 for students), you can own a limited edition URL and profile from Creative Commons that identifies you to the world and provides a compelling revenue opportunity for the non-profit foundation.

While companies like SAP become OpenID providers for pedestrian reasons like simplifying authentication across their many different distributed web properties, Creative Commons is redistributing the brand equity and social capital their members have accrued over the last several years by letting people show and verify their affiliation to the organization.

With this simple example, we can start to see the symbiosis of making an intentional choice about identity: Creative Commons finds a new revenue opportunity and members of the community have a way to express their affiliation and promote the brand.

Perfectly explained. Do read the whole post, including the part where Messina calls CC Network “a truly inspirational approach”. Thanks Chris!

Also see Read Write Web’s take on CC Network, following up on Messina’s post.

CC Network also has other features that complement its identity and affiliation stories — see our posts from last fall launching the service, explaining our technical approach to CC Network’s OpenID security, and CC Network and web-centric copyright registries. On the last, see our CTO Nathan Yergler’s recent update from the third CC technology summit.

Inspired? Watch for exciting announcements from CC Network product manager Fred Benenson coming this fall — and join today!

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ccSalon SF next Wednesday! CC and Open Source

Allison Domicone, August 5th, 2009

salon-sf

CC friends and fans in the Bay Area: we hope you can join us next week at our ccSalon, when, in the spirit of Open Source World, we’ll hear about CC and open source technology from our three presenters for the evening:

* Chris DiBona, Open Source Program Manager for Google, Inc.
* Evan Prodromou, co-Founder of WikiTravel and founder of Identi.ca.
* Nathan Yergler, Creative Commons’ Chief Technology Officer.

When: Wednesday, August 12, 7-9pm
Location: PariSoMa, 1436 Howard St. (map and directions). Plenty of street parking available. (Please note, the space is located up two steep flights of stairs, and unfortunately does not currently have elevator access.)

Light refreshments will be provided.

Check it out on Upcoming and Facebook. We hope to see you there!

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Code Rush Now Available Under CC BY-NC-SA

Fred Benenson, August 5th, 2009

Mozilla on TV

Waxy.org reports that Code Rush — the commercially-unavailable documentary from 2000 about the open-sourcing of the Netscape code base and the Mozilla project which gave birth to Firefox, is now available under our Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. This is a crucial part of the Internet’s history so we highly recommend you watch it and share it with your friends.

Download Code Rush here, watch the entire film annotated by Andy Baio on viddler here, or check out the official Code Rush homepage here.

Thanks to everyone who made this wonderful gift to the commons possible!

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Carpool Conversations: CC-Licensed Video Collaboration Between Pink Cloud Events and Honda

Cameron Parkins, August 4th, 2009

carpool_conversationsCarpool Conversations is a newly launched video series from LA-based Pink Cloud Events. Produced in collaboration with Honda, the 3-part series aims to capture intimate and unexpected conversations between strangers sharing a ride in a Honda Insight. While the topics vary from episode to episode, a common thread through out is the importance of sharing experiences – a concept that resonates strongly with CC’s mission.

The first episode finds members of LA-based fruit finding collaborative Fallen Fruit and Damien Somerset of green video site Zaproot discussing the merits of hybrid cars, free fruit, and a variety of other topics. This sharing of information extends beyond the car ride as Carpool Conversations is released under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative license, allowing the video to be legally and openly shared across the web.

Thankfully, this is just the first in a delightful series – the next episode of Carpool Conversations features Top Chef Master contestant, Elizabeth Falkner of Orson/Citizen Cake, community manager Michelle Broderick of yelp.com, and tech-chocolate maker Timothy Childs of tcho.com.

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Smithsonian Commons and Sustainable Content Usage Policies

Fred Benenson, August 3rd, 2009

Smithsonian Logo.gif
On Thursday, Michael Edson of the Smithsonian posted on the Smithsonian 2.0 blog that they had released their “Web and New Media Strategy” with the purpose of laying a groundwork for a Smithsonian Commons:

The strategy talks about an updated digital experience, a new learning model that helps people with their “lifelong learning journeys,” and the creation of a Smithsonian Commons—a new part of our digital presence dedicated to stimulating learning, creation, and innovation through open access to Smithsonian research, collections and communities.

Of particular interest to our community is that the report PDF itself (and its draft wiki) are both licensed under our permissive, Attribution license. More substantially is the report’s section on the proposed content usage policy of the Smithsonian Commons:

Content Usage: Establish a pan-Institutional policy for sharing and using the Smithsonian’s digital content, with particular focus on Copyright and Public Domain policies that encourage the appropriate re-use and sharing of Smithsonian resources.

Congratulations to the Smithsonian for thinking about the future lives of their content in such a sustainable fashion. We’re very excited to see the future developments that the Smithsonian Commons brings to free culture on an institutional scale.

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Rights Expression vs. Rights Enforcement: clarifying the Associated Press story

Ben Adida, August 1st, 2009

The Associated Press wants to track reuse of their content through a “news registry.” This registry “will employ a microformat for news developed by AP”:

The microformat will essentially encapsulate AP and member content in an informational “wrapper” that includes a digital permissions framework that lets publishers specify how their content is to be used online and which also supplies the critical information needed to track and monitor its usage.

While Creative Commons is very sympathetic to the difficulty of explaining technical concepts in a short press release, we’re worried that the AP’s explanation, and in particular their reference to the Creative Commons’ Rights Expression Language (ccREL), might well be confusing.

The reference to Creative Commons appears in the AP’s microformat, hNews, which introduces hRights, a supposed “generalization” of ccREL. hRights is presumably the “digital permissions framework” that the AP diagrams as a box/wrapper around news content in order to “track and monitor usage.” Unfortunately, as Ed Felten points out, this claim doesn’t add up. Microformats and other web-based structured data, including ccREL, cannot track, monitor, or generally enforce anything. They’re labels, i.e. Post-It notes attached to a document, not locked boxes blocking access to the content.

When Creative Commons launched in 2002, we were often asked “is Creative Commons a form of DRM?” Our answer: no, we help publishers express their rights, but we don’t dabble in enforcement, because enforcement technologies are unable to respect important, complex, and often subjective concepts like fair use. Thus, ccREL is about expression and notification of rights, not about enforcement.

And when you think about it, there’s really no other realistic way. If the AP actually wants a “beacon” that reports usage information back to the mothership, then every endpoint must be programmed to perform this beacon functionality. Before it delivers content, every server must check that the client will promise to become a beacon. Which means the AP wants  an architecture where every cell phone, computer, or other networked device is locked down centrally, able to run only software that is verified to comply with this policy. That’s another reason why we don’t dabble in enforcement: the costs of Digital Rights Enforcement (or its politically correct equivalent, Digital Rights Management) to publishers, users, to our culture and to our ability to innovate are astronomically high.

Then there’s the issue of “RSS syndication” compatibility. We simply don’t see how the AP’s proposed system would allow both widespread beacon enforcement and compatibility with existing formats like RSS. Compatibility means that current RSS tools remain usable. Obviously, these tools do not currently perform the AP’s rights enforcement, so how could they magically be made to start phoning home now?

That said, there is an interesting nugget in the AP’s proposal, one which we encourage them to pursue: tagging content with rights, origin, and means of attribution is a good proposal. When Creative Commons began the work that led to ccREL, there were no established or open standards for expressing this type of structured information on the web, so we had to lay down some new infrastructure. When we published ccREL, we made it easy for others to innovate on top of ccREL: we included “independence and extensibility” as the first principle for expressing license information in a machine readable format. We based ccREL on RDF and RDFa to enable this standards-based extensibility.

The AP could, rather than reinvent a subset of ccREL using an incompatible and news-specific syntax, simply use ccREL and add their own news-specific fields. By doing this, they would immediately plug into the growing set of tools that parse and interpret rights expressed via ccREL. We would be happy to help, but we built ccREL in such a way that we don’t need to be involved if the AP would prefer to go it alone. And, of course, the AP can use ccREL with copyright licenses more restrictive than those we offer, if they prefer.

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