I dropped in for the last session of Re:Transmission event in London, on video metadata. This was a gathering for the Transmission network of independent video producers and distributors that is trying to move into standards-based, peer-based online distribution.
This involves an effort to establish a simple common standard for video metadata distribution, right now heavily leaning towards use of the Atom syndication format. Digging around, I found some parallel assessments, particularly Lisa Rein’s research on video metadata models for microformats.
I attended the meeting to argue, amongst other things, that the group should consider specifying data license as a required field and not as an optional one in their metadata model. In stating the case for this, I am thinking particularly of Rufus’ essay on the importance of being explicit about openness. He cites examples of collections of contributed works which have “died” because the right to re-use the material is unclear; the rights technically reside in each individual contributor, who has to be consulted before the work can be legally re-used and redistributed.
[to] my second question: â€˜am i allowed to redistribute/reuse their materialâ€™ the simple answer was: No â€” Iâ€™d would have to go out and identify, and then gain permission, from each contributor; an endeavour that would clearly be prohibitively time consuming.
From the point of view of an individual “client” or “consumer” licensing clarity may not be much of a consideration; but for the operation of an aggregator, collecting and providing scheduled or edited collections of feeds from lots of different media publishers, explicit openess becomes much more crucial.
At the meeting I heard expressed some resistance to imposition of licensing stance on the grounds that one kind or another of more or less open license is an “ideological” decision and not a “technological” one. I’m not sure the boundaries can be so clearly drawn. There is some resistance to “enforcing” “compliance” in the standard by requiring a statement about licensing – even if all that says is “Public Domain”. The alternative – encouraging compliance in specifications for standards-based publishing software – is still a kind of technological enforcement. There are cultural reasons for participating in an open knowledge network like the one embodied by Transmission.
…when engaging in any kind of collaborative effort â€” the norm on the web â€” the adoption of an explicitly open approach can be considered as providing a form of social contract among the participants which is clearer than the informal tacit arrangments which would otherwise operate.
The network organisers have set up a small metadata working group and I hope they will be able to seek opinions from Free Culture UK, and perhaps get the chance to learn from some of the data modelling and licensing decisions that were made in the context of the Creative Archive project.