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12 October 2010, 12:47

Creative Commons announces the Public Domain Mark

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Creative Commons Logo Creative Commons has announced the release of it's Public Domain Mark. Discussing the announcement in a post on the organisation's official blog, Creative Commons General Counsel Diane Peters describes the Public Domain Mark as "a tool that enables works free of known copyright restrictions to be labelled in a way that allows them to be easily discovered over the Internet".

Works, such as texts and images, are generally considered to be in the public domain if they're not covered by any intellectual property rights – for example those rights that have expired or been forfeited. Peters says that, in its current form, the Public Domain Mark is primarily intended for use with works that are free of known copyright, specifically older works that are now beyond the reach of copyright .

According to Creative Commons founding board member and American University law professor Michael Carroll, "The Public Domain Mark is a further step on the path towards making the promise of a digital public domain a reality," noting that, "Marking and tagging works with information about their copyright status is essential. Computers must be able to parse the public domain status of works to communicate its usefulness to the public. The meta-data standard underpinning the Public Domain Mark and all of CC’s licensing and legal tools are what makes this possible."

The first major adopter of the Public Domain Mark is Europeana, Europe’s digital library, museum and archive which is funded by the European Commission and the member states. Its partners include, for example, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and Germany’s Federal archives (Bundesarchiv). Europeana says that it believes that the millions of out-of-copyright works in its database will be labelled with the Mark by the middle of next year.

Based in San Francisco and founded in 2001, Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation dedicated to making it easier for individuals to share and build on the work of others. It provides several free copyright licenses, known as Creative Commons (CC) Licenses, and other legal tools aimed at helping content creators communicate what rights to their work they wish to reserve.

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