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San Francisco, CA – July 30, 2007 – Today, Creative Commons published the first public release of its desktop licensing library, Liblicense, featuring desktop integration. When content authors grant permission for re-use of their work, Liblicense provides software developers with the ability to easily discover and display those permissions to a user. Liblicense also offers authors the ability to embed those permissions in a standard way in files.

Generally, copyright law applies automatically upon fixation of a creative work to tangible form, and people must get explicit permission from the copyright owner before they are allowed to re-use or change the work. To allow collaboration, many authors choose to stamp their work with content licenses allowing some forms of re-use.

On the World-Wide Web, authors frequently publish license information in a web page shown to users before they download the actual work. “Once off of the web, the files are on their own. When away from the context of the creator’s website, information about the permissions is lost. When would this all change? When will a license be as ubiquitous as a modification timestamp?” asks Scott Shawcroft, one of the developers of Liblicense.

Developed by Scott Shawcroft, Jason Kivlighn, Jon Phillips and Nathan Yergler, Liblicense 0.3 is the first small step towards universal license tracking on the desktop. Liblicense can show users the license of a file and enable them to license new files or modify the license on old files. By embedding information about many licenses into the software package, liblicense allows authors to embed concise license names while users can see a full name and description.

Liblicense does not and is never intended to technologically restrict the ability of users to use their computers or the content that is stored on those computers. It serves to inform rather than enforce. This is especially important because copyright law has a broad exception category called “fair use” that allows for some use of a work without permission, and all of the licenses supported by Liblicense do not restrict those fair uses.

There are many interesting applications which have yet to be explored. As one example, Creative Commons plans on integrating liblicense with Sugar, the user interface library used by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. They are also considering use in applications such as music players, web feed readers, desktop publishing programs, and text editors. “Imagine finding a song you love using Amarok and finding out you can share it with your friends. Or imagine finding a brilliant poem on a blog through Liferea you can base a video or song off of,” says Shawcroft.

Additionally, in the future, Creative Commons hopes that Liblicense will support embedding license information into all of the file types used on the desktop. While this goal is technically challenging, steps must first be made in creating standardized ways of embedding license data in some file types.

For more information visit, join the developers on or email them on Liblicense is available at under the CC-GNU-LGPL,

About Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 2001, that promotes the creative re-use of intellectual and artistic works-whether owned or in the public domain. Creative Commons licenses provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists, and educators that build upon the “all rights reserved” concept of traditional copyright to offer a voluntary “some rights reserved” approach. It is sustained by the generous support of various organizations including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Omidyar Network, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation as well as members of the public. For general information, visit

Press Contact
Nathan Yergler
Chief Technical Officer
Creative Commons
(415) 369 – 8487

Posted 31 July 2007