Attribution, Licensing and Archival of the Cultural Commons
Authors: Trent McConaghy (Ascribe / BigchainDB)
Here’s the problems I want to fix:
- Creators of content on the web are getting a raw deal. They get a fraction of a cent for an ad played on YouTube, nothing on Facebook, nothing in most places, yet consumers get more utility when watching. It’s hard to make a living if you’re a creative.
- Connectors of content spend way too much of their resources on sorting out licensing rather than where it could benefit the leaf nodes – the creators and collectors.
- Collectors of content / audiences are happy to pay for more content, if it’s good content and if they have the means. Often they’re forced to sit through ads, even though they’re happy to pay. Often content isn’t available in their country (eg new-release English movies in Germany).
- Licensing is hard. The UX is terrible. Lawyers and large middlemen extract most of the value. Copyright laws themselves vary widely across countries, and the rights granted are almost always too strong (life, plus 70-100 years).
- Content itself is in terrible shape, in many ways: licensing, storage / archival, discovery. There’s only a billion CC licensed works, a tiny fraction of all works. Archival is a mess, it’s not reliable especially for the long term, GLAMS have no idea what to do. Discovery is a mess, you need to go through a silo, most content is through a bunch of silos, and it looks like it’s getting worse.
I think the pieces of the solution include:
- Open, free, easy ways to claim attribution, add metadata, license work, authenticate claims of others, and mediate IP disputes of others, all in a way where there is global agreement at the data level, without centralized control. For use by creators, connectors, collectors. How: IP attribution & licensing standards (eg LCC RRM, schema.org), in broadly sharable data formats (eg JSON-LD, IPLD), decentralization storage with & without consistency goals. This can then be made easy for end marketplaces and users via APIs and apps.
- Easy way to archive media, where it can be guaranteed for decades or more, without centralized storage control. For use by Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums aka GLAMS: How: decentralized storage organization, and incentive system (eg IPFS, Swarm).
- Easy way to discover media, and how to license. How: content-based search, not just crypto hash-based but for “similar” works too, as in reverse images search. The search results bring up ways to license. How: opening how the search is done.
- Better defaults for licensing. How: e.g. a more open CC license after say 10 years expires. Make that the default for using free archival for artists wishing to get compensated. And incentivize further to open it up immediately. Balance artists making a living with growing the cultural commons.
I believe that discussions in the W3C can help, in particular for IP standards, data formats, media archival, and media discovery; such that browsers have direct support for these.
Q: Your background in blockchain or Web technologies?
- Late 1990s-2013. Developing distributed AI systems, mostly for use in designing computer chips.
- Ascribe 2013-present. ascribe is a service to claim attribution & license intellectual property, with a special focus on digital art & the web. System design, Bitcoin integration, overlay protocol, backend, frontend, project management. Lead author of ascribe whitepaper.
- COALA IP working group 2015-present. We’re focused on developing a spec for IP that can be used for blockchain IP use cases, including digital art, music, and more. Reconciling existing standards (e.g. LCC RRM, DDEX, PLUS) with new technologies & standards (JSON-LD, IPLD, schema.org).
- BigchainDB 2015-present. BigchainDB reconciles the decades-long R&D from distributed databases with new ideas from the blockchain ecosystem. System / algorithm design, project management. Lead author of BigchainDB whitepaper.
Q: What topic you would like to lead discussion on, including concrete ideas on how this topic relates directly to the Web or browser-facing features?
I believe I can help wrt IP standards, data formats, media archival, and media discovery. Each of these could have direct support via a browser, which would be a win for creators, connectors, and collectors alike. I’d be fine if we just covered just a subset this time around.
Q: Links to related supporting resources?
- Ascribe whitepaper: http://trent.st/content/2015-06-24%20ascribe%20whitepaper.pdf
- BigchainDB whitepaper: https://www.bigchaindb.com/whitepaper/bigchaindb-whitepaper.pdf
Q: Any other topics you think the workshop should cover in order to be effective
Just the list above (IP standards etc).
Q: A focus on technical issues, not process or platform preference. We plan to talk about the what, not the how.