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Machine-Readable metadata for Creative Commons

From: Aaron Swartz <me@aaronsw.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 15:53:48 -0600
To: Larry Lessig <lessig@pobox.com>
CC: Molly Van Houweling <msvh@pobox.com>, public message archive <www-archive@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B88EEB0C.2047A%me@aaronsw.com>
Larry Lessig in SFGate[1]:
> We also want to facilitate machine-readable languages
[in the Creative Commons project]

I'm excited to hear this. I've been developing a P2P distribution system
that's powered by machine-readable metadata (the Plex). Obviously one of our
goals is music and content distribution, which we want to do in a way that
allows users to directly compensate the artists and creators.

I think that giving the users simple information about copyright policies,
powered by this machine-readable metadata is a big step forward and
beneficial for everyone.

Our system is based around the W3C Recommendation for RDF, which I'd like to
encourage you to support with the Creative Commons. RDF uses a simple system
of URI triples. Here's an example:

@prefix t: <http://www.creativecommons.org/terms/> .
@prefix l: <http://www.eff.org/IP/Open_licenses/> .

_:File    t:availableAt <http://lessig.org/I_Thought_We_Knew_That.mp3> .
_:File    t:md5         "adf64abfc82c2461b1a249bfbced95b1" .
_:File    t:license     l:eff_oal .
l:eff_oal t:allows      t:distribution, t:copying, t:modification .
l:eff_oal t:requires    t:attribution .
  
Simply, this says that there's a file availble at
http://lessig.org/I_Thought_We_Knew_That.mp3 with the MD5 hash
adf64abfc82c2461b1a249bfbced95b1 (this allows it to be easily found with P2P
systems) and is under the eff_oal license. That license allows distribution,
copying and modification but requires attribution.

Obviously this needs to be refined, but I thought I'd provide it as an
example of what this might look like. There are many RDF tools available to
parse and process this information in all sorts of programming languages,
and more continue to be created every day. The Ogg Vorbis team is
considering RDF as the basis of its metadata standard, and an RDF-compatible
system is being adopted for the next version of the MPEG format.

RDF has already been adopted by two the MusicBrainz[2] music metadata system
and the Bitzi[3] file information system and is built into the FreeAmp music
player and some modified copies of the LimeWire file sharing client.

I think RDF is a very promising foundation for this and would love to work
with the Creative Commons team on providing RDF-based tools for copyright
holders. Please let me know what you think.

[1] 
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2002/02/11/crea
tcom.DTL
[2] http://www.musicbrainz.org/
[3] http://www.bitzi.com/

Many thanks,
-- 
      "Aaron Swartz"      |       The Plex Project
 <mailto:me@aaronsw.com>  |    <http://plexnow.com/>
<http://www.aaronsw.com/> |  decentralizing the internet
Received on Tuesday, 12 February 2002 16:54:27 GMT

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