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Created: September 09, 2002.
News: Cover StoriesPrevious News ItemNext News Item

Creative Commons Project Releases RDF Metadata Specification for Copyright Licenses.

A posting from Aaron Swartz announces the release of a new draft Creative Commons Metadata Specification which defines RDF descriptions for copyright licenses. "Unlike Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, which tries to prevent people from doing things with digital works, Creative Commons is working towards promoting these uses of works." The draft Creative Commons Metadata specification "describes Works, Licenses, and License Characteristics (permissions, prohibitions, requirements). Licenses are created via tools and databases in a variety of data and metadata formats, including RDF metadata and application-specific XML vocabularies; this data and metadata will be made available for use by third-party software applications. An initial goal of Creative Commons Project is to release a public a set of copyright licenses free of charge; these licenses tell others that works are free for copying and other uses, but only on certain conditions. In addition to supporting fixed licenses, the software tools will help users mix and match preferences from a menu of options to create custom licenses. Custom licenses declare permission to copy, distribute, display, perform the work, create a derivative work (etc) with several variations, including terms for non-commercial use, copyleft license principles, etc. The CC licenses will be expressed in three forms: (1) a 'Commons Deed' written as a simple, plain-language summary of the license; (2) the 'Legal Code' fine print that one needs to be sure the license will stand up in court; (3) one or more 'Digital Code' machine-readable [XML/RDF] translations of the license which help search engines and other applications identify the work by its terms of use. The license tool will also help a user dedicate a work to the public domain in a legally accepted way.

Founded in 2001 with support from the Center for the Public Domain, the Creative Commons Project "promotes the innovative reuse of all sorts of intellectual works. [It] is a non-profit corporation founded on the notion that some people may not want to exercise all of the intellectual property rights the law affords them. Creative Commons works within the copyright system to help reduce barriers to creativity. Its first project is to offer the public a set of copyright licenses free of charge. It will provide a free set of tools to enable creators to share aspects of their copyrighted works with the public. The Contributor Application will help people create what we call a Commons Deed -- a document that uses plain English and intuitive icons to summarize the terms under which a contributor has offered a work; the Search Application is designed to help people (educators, authors, filmmakers, musicians) easily locate the Commons Deeds for works available under terms suited to their individual needs. Creative Commons also announced its longer-term plans to create an intellectual property conservancy. Like a land trust or nature preserve, the conservancy will protect works of special public value from exclusionary private ownership and from obsolescence due to neglect or technological change. The conservancy will house a rich repository of high-quality works in a variety of media, and help foster an ethos of sharing, public education, and creative interactivity..."

"In addition to making it easy for people to find the copyright licenses best for them, Creative Commons is working to provide simple RDF descriptions of these licenses. These descriptions will put the important points of the license in a way that makes it easy for machines to process and work from. Unlike Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, which tries to prevent people from doing things with digital works, Creative Commons is working towards promoting these uses of works."

"The license metadata can be used for a number of purposes, some basic ones are for search engines and other systems to highlight works in the Public Domain or under generous licenses. Also, users will also want to restrict their search to only things that match their required license criteria (such as only works that are available for commercial use, etc.). It could also be the basis of a system to describe the licensing of a work in plain English, to save people from having to read the increasing number of different licenses... By standardizing a way to describe this information and providing large quantites of RDF to build on, we hope to encourage new and innovative ways to develop the commons..." [adapted from the website 2002-09-09]

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