Creative Commons Software for Licensing

Blane Warrene

I caught a blog entry on the Creative Commons site yesterday mentioning the latest release of ccPublisher for Windows and Mac OS X. Now I am a big Creative Commons licensing fan – yet I had never heard of this little app until almost missing it in my RSS feeds.

There is unfortunately little in the way of documentation – an overview for its use – though there is the skeleton beginning of a roadmap at the link above.

ccPublisher simply enables a user to drop an audio or video file (for which the program assumes you own the copyright or the right to authorize a license to) and allows you to select and apply a Creative Commons license to the file and upload to your own server or optionally upload it to (the Internet Archive – a destination worthy of some browsing time).

This in and of itself is not necessarily of front burner interest to web developers. However, having had to chase down royalty-free, right managed and other types of content (not too mention your own product – whether that be copy, images, software, etc.), the universe of content becoming available under CC licenses certainly is of interest.

From a second perspective, aside from the use of CC-licensed assets, developers can perhaps look forward to or contribute to an expanded licensing tool using ccPublisher as a prototype.

Though this product is certainly in its infancy — it is a much needed step in the direction of enabling content creators, developers and other handlers to implement licensing ‘within’ an asset (software, audio, video, text, and so on).

As a framework – it shows how the open source community could apply a methodology for tagging works they produce much in the same way proprietary content creators tag digital assets with digital rights management.

Imagine an application that contains the current licenses from the Open Source Initiative and Creative Commons and could embed or tag your digital assets prior to publication or deployment.

Take that a step further and consider an analysis tool that includes parameters of all approved licenses and a selection process where the asset owner runs through a matrix of questions that ultimately matches up your work(s) with applicable licenses.

In one of my recent columns Eric Raymond noted a license selection tool is something the Open Source Initiative has on its radar. I have also been sent or stumbled across some attempts at building matrices of open source licenses to help in the selection process.

One way to insure momentum builds for a tool(s) such as this is to contribute in some form or fashion – whether that be documentation, feature requests, bug and patch testing, development, money or some other activity. For sure, if the demand grows for open source licensing tools for developers and users, they will come.