The idea is simple. Using Copyright Hub technology, any piece of digital content – an image, a film clip, a piece of music, a text article, anything – can have a unique identifier that links it with the server of the owner or manager of the rights to that digital content.
So you can connect to it just as easily as you can connect to a web page, and a machine-to-machine conversation can take place, similar to the one which happens between your computer and a web server whenever you view a webpage.
This means getting and granting permission (or not) to use content can start to happen automatically, behind the scenes, using the Copyright Hub to make the connection. The conditions of use, and whether they are accepted, is entirely for the parties to agree. They can be commercial (payment, for example), or non-commercial (just for acknowledgement, perhaps) or creative in ways we haven’t thought of.
New works created can acquire their own unique identifiers easily, and licences can have their own unique identifiers too. Machine readable licences will allow platform owners to check quickly and easily whether the work was legitimate and facilitate licensing where needed.
Machine-to-machine permissions help ensure that the transaction costs of the licensing are as close to zero as possible. This unlocks a whole world of licensing for reuse in the middle and bottom of the market, which is characterised in the digital age by a high volume of low value transactions from the long tail of users and long tail of uses. This is all about widening the addressable market.
Making our work open source and free to use means it’s just as useful for those are aren’t pursuing commercial goals as those who are and it can be used all over the world. It’s for anyone who wants to take advantage of the freedom copyright gives them to have a say in what happens to their work. We, like the law, put creators in charge of their creations. What they do then us up to them.
In research we carried out in 2013, 38% of rights users who tried could not uncover the identity of the rights owner for the work they wanted to reuse. As a result they either did not reuse the work they wanted to or they pirated it. The Copyright Hub aims to reduce the hurdles for using content online, by making it easier for users to gain permission to use content and to give creators freedom to decide how their work can be used by others.