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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Weekend Homework: Lisensa

The long Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to give stuff a spin online. I should know; that's how, five years ago, I fell down a turkey hole and emerged a blogger. If you too fell down one of those holes at some point, once you finish gearing up for the holidays on YouTube, head over to Lisensa. Lisensa is the latest offering from Top Ten Media, and I've been serving as a consultant/advisor as it has readied for launch.


Lisensa (yes linguaphiles, I agree, that first "s" should be a "c," but...) is a licensing system (right now, for blogs, but hopefully other things down the line) that complements Creative Commons by helping users determine the parameters of commercial as well as non-commercial uses of their works. In other words: a way to communicate to the world how you expect to get paid for the commercial re-use of your work. Plagiarism Today and Techcrunch both have good write-ups — I don't really get the comparison to BlogBurst, which seems like it's more about promotion and placement than licensing, but I haven't used BlogBurst yet so I'll have to reserve judgment — and here's the Lisensa press release.

Lisensa is very much a work-in-process, but the best way to figure out what people like and dislike about both the concept and its current execution is to get folks using it, banging on it, and talking back about it. (Working note to Rudy and John: Lisensa needs a blog.) So please do. Here's what you need to know in a nutshell:

  1. Once you register your blog with Lisensa, you'll have the option to add a Creative Commons license or reflect your current one. Or, if CC is not your thing, just ignore this option.
  2. Next, you get to make some choices about charging for commercial use of your work on a post-by-post and annual subscription basis. If someone chooses to purchase your work via your Lisensa license, Lisensa keeps 10%. (Here's the FAQ.)
  3. Retire on your earnings. (Heh.)

John Palfrey has a good post on making a market emerge out of digital copyright uncertainty, and that's what Lisensa is about:

Part of the answer could come from the courts and the legislatures of the world. But I’m not holding my breath. A large number of lawsuits in the music and movies context has left us clearer in terms of our understanding of the rules around file-sharing, but not enough clarity such that the next generation of issues (including those to which YouTube and other web 2.0 applications give rise) is well-sorted.

Another part of the answer to this digital copyright issue might be provided by the market. One might imagine a process by which citizens who create user-generated content (think of a single YouTube video file or a syndicated vlog series, a podcast audio file or series of podcasts, a single online essay or a syndicated blog, a photo covering the perfectly captures a breaking news story or a series of evocative images, and so forth) might consistently adopt a default license (one of the CC licenses, or an "interoperable" license that enables another form of commercial distribution; I am persuaded that as much interoperability of licenses as possible is essential here) for all content that they create, with the ability also to adopt a separate license for an individual work that they may create in the future.

In addition to choosing this license (or these licenses) for their work, these users registered this work or these works, with licenses attached, in a central repository. Those who wished to reproduce these works would be on notice to check this repository, ideally through a very simple interface (possibly “machine-readable” as well as "human-readable" and "lawyer-readable," to use the CC language), to determine the terms on which the creator is willing to enable the work to be reproduced (though not affecting in any way the fair use, implied license, or other grounds via which the works might otherwise be reproduced).

Give it a look, kick the tires, don't pull punches. There's more to come. And have a wonderful Turkey Day!

Creative Commons LicenseUnless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Denise M. Howell and included in the Bag and Baggage weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.