"Free use label" for webcontent Last week, Niko pointed me to an interesting article at Asahi.com: "New rules and copyright labels to let users copy Web content". A quote: "There are three labels. One will say, "This mark indicates material can be copied." The mark lets users copy or print material from Internet Web sites and distribute it without specific permission from the copyright holder, as long as the labeled content is not altered. Two other labels will permit unrestricted use of copyrighted material by people with disabilities and for school."
In Japan, a project called the "Intellectual Property Outline" started in July 2002 and includes some provisions that seek to accomplish many of the same goals as the Creative Commons. While it is clear they were not influenced by us directly, it's interesting to watch the convergence of alternate forms of copyright come from governments world-wide.
So I hope we can make sure it "converges" in a world where divergence is quite common.

Thanks for the pointer Andreas!

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According to the press presentation, the details of the program and the graphic data will be uploaded in this directory of Bunkacho, the Agency of Cultural Affair's site in any time soon (currently gets 404 errors).
The problem is that it's just labels. No meta data or legal code. Besides they look oh-so-hopelessly lame (design matters!).

Yesterday I had a talk with some excellent Japanese law students who can also read and write codes. They were all dissapointed by this "free use labels" program as they lack legal coherence and, yes, the sense of building the semantic web. One of them said ironically "They are good at labeling culutural properties. Why not stick to the Buddhist statues?"
The worst fear of them is that it can actually be the standard and kick the efficiency of Creative Commons licenses out of its way because there are still many people who blindly believe in what the bureaucrats do.

I am now preparing an article on Creative Commons for a magazine, and in the process Prof. Lessig gave me a positive comment on this as "we are the creative commons, we encourage the world to build upon our idea".
Maybe I should be positive too. First I have to get to see the person in charge of this program at Bunkacho...

The "Free Use label" project's website is online
Some comments:
- The "copy OK" mark does not cover "sending", so I guess uploading to a server is impossible, too.
- The "copy OK" mark does not allow you to make derivative works, translations,... from the original work. They haven't heard about modern mix-rip'n burn content creation, I guess.
- Isn't there already a limitation on rights in the Japanese copyright law which deals with reproduction in Braille and interactive transmission for the aurally handicapped (art 37 and 37bis Japanese Copyright Law)? I mean: what is the extra value of the "handicapped persons OK" mark?
- In the site's pdf-files the word "free" is considered in two ways: 1. free as in "free beer" - you don't have to pay money for it. 2. free as in "free use", meaning that you can do with it what you want. A third, and quite important meaning however was forgotten: free as in "free information": information that stays free through a "share alike" principle. There's no mention of the "share alike" principle, featured in the GNU FDL, or in some CC licenses. That's a pity. Take this example: a student uploads content under the "education OK" mark to his website - under which license can he distribute the content? I can't find it on the Jiyuriyo Website...
Anyway, I stick to the Creative Commons licences.

It sounds like a cheap imitation. Why didn't they just adopt the creative commons license? Chie, if you find the person in charge, and you think we should lobby them, let me know. It would be a total waste if they spend money trying to promote this limited system.

The Creative Commons project announces its "International Commons" project. A quote: "We are excited to announce the International Commons -- an offshoot of our licensing project dedicated to the drafting and eventual adoption of country-specific licenses. Imagine the licenses as the Legal Code processed by the respective legal "operating systems" of various countries. It is the aim of International Commons to "port" or adapt the licenses for use across those different operating systems."
It would be cool if the Japanese Ministry of Culture would focus on this project instead of their own "Free Use Label" project, which lacks consistency.

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The Creative Commons has launched its iCommons Japan project in cooperation with Glocom. Its goal is to "port" the Creative... Read More

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