For a while we’ve been planning to help to produce a set of Public Domain Calculators – which each aim to indicate whether or not a given work is in the public domain in a given jurisdiction. The idea arose in relation to our Public Domain Works project (a registry of works in the public domain) and its integration with the Open Library.
The calculators will take metadata about creative works (such as bibliographic metadata) and combine this with an algorithm which represents copyright legislation in a particular region.
Developing the calculators will require two stages:
- The first stage will be to develop copyright flow charts such as this one from Creative Commons Canada, or this one for the US from Bromberg & Sunstein LLP. This work will be undertaken and reviewed by groups of legal experts.
The second stage will be to convert these charts into code. Examples of the algorithms in code form, can be found at Public Domain Works and the Open Library. This work will be undertaken by the OKF and volunteers.
More details are available at the project’s wiki page:
The Public Domain Calculators will help to trace the contours of a body of creative works which can be made open – i.e. free to access, re-use and re-distribute. Increasing the visibility of the public domain has the potential to bring about many social and commercial benefits – from increasing the availability of public domain works to catalysing the development of new ways of exploring, representing and engaging with material in the public domain (as Open Shakespeare aims to do).
We’ve been in discussion with Jon Phillips and Michelle Thorne at Creative Commons about stepping up our efforts in helping to promote and co-ordinate the development of the calculators. We’re going to start contacting more individuals, organisations and mailing lists to whom this project might be of interest.
If you are interested in helping out with any aspect of developing a Public Domain Calculator, or if you know someone who might be, please get in touch at info at the OKF’s domain or on our discuss list!
Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at jonathangray.org and he tweets at @jwyg.