post on his wonderful La Grange site that poses some questions about the intersection between Creative Commons licenses and microformat services such as Technorati and others. The central question: do the analysis services provided by Technorati (and Google and others) infringe upon some Creative Commons licensing schemes, which explicitly prohibit commercial use of content?
It’s a tough question, for sure, and one whose answer will only really come over the course of time. For my part, I think when we look at such questions we have to be very careful to look at exactly what kinds of things services like this are actually doing with content, whether under CC license or traditionally copyrighted.
So, when aggregation and analysis services are “using” someone’s content, what does that really mean? Does it mean they are in fact “republishing” text or images elsewhere? Or is it more a question of aggregating texts from many sources and in that way using the fact that a text exists and not the text itself? On the other side, what does “Non Commercial” mean? Certainly it means that I couldn’t, for instance, take a text written by someone else and publish it in a book that I publish for profit. But does it mean that I can not, in the course of my commercial activity, even read the text? It seems obvious that it does not – but has the question been answered “officially” yet? Likewise, am I allowed to note the fact that the text and a certain point of view expressed in the text exists, and use that fact as data aggregated with other similar data points?
Without answering those questions, I think that a couple of issues jump right out. First of all, I believe (can anyone confirm?) that CC licenses are machine-readable. If not they should be, and I think it would be a boon to the community for notable companies working in this area – Technorati and Google, for example – to step up and detail exactly what they will do with content and how they will automatically process the various licenses that are out there. And second, I think the community of “content providers” (that would be bloggers but also other publishers, photographers and really all creators) should sustain a wide-ranging discussion on these issues on an ongoing basis.
Lastly, it is very likely that people have already worked out a lot of these issues – so I apologize for my ignorance of existing answers.