Why most digital copyright registries have failed and what makes Octopus different
Since the end of 2014 Kennisland and PeerPractice, a Berlin based boutique consulting firm specialised in international intellectual property and information technology law have been working on Project Octopus. This spring ++PartnersTogether with Wikimedia Germany, Tribe of Noise, IRights.info, Commons Machinery, the Institute for Information Law, Klokan Technologies and the National library of Luxembourg. as a project proposal for funding under the ICT-19 funding call of the European Union (the proposal was not selected for funding). In this guest post PeerPractice principal Catharina Maracke explains our ideas behind the project and why we are continuing to look for opportunities to further develop the ideas behind project Octopus.
The lack of reliable and available ++Provenance informationInformation that helps to identify the source and rights owner of a media file or text. is still one of the biggest impediments of the web. Challenges ranging from copyfraud to orphan works, inefficient licensing to the dominant position of a handful of web silos, and from establishing the cultural relevance of works in the digital environment to the return on investment of the same – each can in part be attributed to lack of reliable and available provenance information. Remarkably, most attempts to build “digital copyright registries” have failed to materialise or gain traction. Even the most recent project “Ascribe” building upon ++BlockchainThe block chain was originally designed for the digital currency Bitcoin. This article dives into the design, concepts and functioning of the block chain.
and cryptographic certificate of authenticity still has to prove utilisation and traction of their platform.
Lessons from the past have demonstrated that the most interesting and hopeful instances of provenance information on the web involve community curation.Lessons from the past have demonstrated that the most interesting and hopeful instances of provenance information on the web involve community curation. Whether the community is dedicated to a particular domain (see MusicBrainz) or part of a broader movement towards accessible and reusable content (see Wikimedia Commons) is secondary. The most important aspect of successful and widely accepted provenance systems is not the underlying technology or improved functionality but community support and decentralised leadership. This is one of the outcomes of a detailed analysis of already existing provenance systems and possible solutions for a future design space for a commons provenance system that we have produced as part of our research for project Octopus.
Octopus is the first project to build a new provenance system applying methodologies like community curation, open data, open governance and open source to increase transparency and efficiency. The goal is to create the first whole web observatory of cultural flows and a dashboard for creators and fans.Octopus is the first project to build a new provenance system applying methodologies like community curation, open data, open governance and open source. The goal is to create the first whole web observatory of cultural flows and a dashboard for creators and fans. Instead of building yet another empty database, Octopus is offering the service which enables its users and partners to structure and maintain latent provenance information and to aggregate use information. Features provided in isolation by unsuccessful systems or not provided at all such as registration, content derived lookup, and whitelists of freely reusable works, will gain value and feasibility as the system scales.
As a first step Octopus has opened a website which includes interfaces for maintaining a basic set of provenance information concerning digital works and publication available at project-octopus.org. We are now working to gather the kernel of a community with a passion for accurately documenting uses of their works on the web and encourage everyone to get involved!