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Supreme Court Audio Classics Enter P2P Zone Thanks to Creative Commons Licenses

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Creative Commons Also Rolls Out Strategy for Embedding and Verifying License Information in MP3s and Other Files

Palo Alto and Chicago, USA — Creative Commons and the OYEZ Project announced today the first-stage 100-hour release of MP3s from the Project’s 2000+ hours of Supreme Court recordings using Creative Commons’ machine-readable copyright licenses. Creative Commons also announced its new metadata verification policy, designed to ease the legitimate distribution and copying of audio files online by associating copyright information with the files themselves.

The OYEZ Project,, is a multimedia archive dedicated to the business of the Supreme Court of the United States and the lives of its Justices. Founded in 1994 at Northwestern University, OYEZ will now host MP3 audio recordings of oral arguments before the Court dating back to the 1950s, including landmark cases such as Gratz v. Bollinger, 2003 (affirmative action) Grutter v. Bollinger, 2003 (affirmative action) Bush v. Gore, 2000 (2000 presidential election) Regents v. Bakke, 1978 (affirmative action) Roe v. Wade, 1971 (abortion and reproductive rights) New York Times v. United States, 1971 (the “Pentagon Papers” case) Miranda v. Arizona, 1966 (“You have the right to remain silent . . .”) Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963 (a defendant’s right to counsel).

Recordings of the oral arguments from these historic controversies are now available for free download from the OYEZ website under a Creative Commons copyright license, which encourages copying and redistribution of the recordings while imposing certain conditions on their use: OYEZ must be attributed, commercial re-use is prohibited, and any modification of the files obligates licensing under the same Creative Commons terms as the original files.

“With the Creative Commons, we have for the first time found a way to license our content to assure use consistent with our objectives. As long as users meet the conditions of the license, they are free to enjoy and share a small treasure of America’s legal and political heritage,” said Jerry Goldman, Northwestern University political science professor and OYEZ project director.

“By releasing hundreds of important Supreme Court recordings under Creative Commons licenses, the OYEZ Project has demonstrated a commitment to filling the commons with high quality educational material for others to use and learn from,” said Lawrence Lessig, chairman of Creative Commons and professor of law at Stanford. “Just as important, the OYEZ Project’s use of machine-readable licenses with its MP3s is a big step toward a world in which law and technology can work together to promote sharing.”

More About Creative Commons’ Metadata Embedding Policy

Creative Commons also announced today their new metadata embedding policy that defines a standard way to embed metadata into files verified by an external webpage.

“The Creative Commons license information embedded into each of the OYEZ Supreme Court files can be verified by an external webpage maintained by the copyright holder,” said Mike Linksvayer, Creative Commons CTO.

“We hope this will become the standard approach to embedding and verifying metadata.”

More information below, and at:

More about Creative Commons

A nonprofit corporation, Creative Commons promotes the creative re-use of intellectual works — whether owned or public domain. It is sustained by the generous support of The Center for the Public Domain and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Creative Commons is based at Stanford Law School, where it shares staff, space, and inspiration with the school’s Center for Internet and Society.

More information at

More about OYEZ

Today, The OYEZ Project provides access to more than 2000 hours of Supreme Court audio. All audio in the Court recorded since 1995 is included in the project. Before 1995, the audio collection is selective. OYEZ aims to create a complete and authoritative archive of Supreme Court audio covering the entire span from October 1955 through the most recent release. OYEZ receives support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, FindLaw, Northwestern University, and the law firm of Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw.

For more information


Glenn Otis Brown
Executive Director Creative Commons
1.650.723.7572 (tel)
glenn -AT-

Jerry Goldman
Professor of Political Science
Director, The OYEZ Project
1.847.475.6671 (tel)
j-goldman -AT-

Neeru Paharia
Assistant Director Creative Commons
1.650.724.3717 (tel)
neeru -AT-

Mike Linksvayer
Chief Technical Officer Creative Commons
ml -AT-

Posted 25 June 2003