Re-Use, Free Use:
Theodor Holm Nelson
Oxford Internet Institute and Project Xanadu
* "Transcopyright" is trademarked not for profit but to avoid semantic creep.
(AUDIO AND MOVIES)We believe that transcopyright is what many people want but cannot find.
|Everyone would like a world in which all content may be freely quoted and remixed without special arrangement– but where nothing is taken out of context, everything is paid for as required, and the author's moral right is preserved (droit morale– guaranteeing that copies are accurate and respectful).||
And such a world is obviously impossible–Such a world is in fact possible-- a world that liberates on-line content-- and that is what we are fighting for. That world is transcopyright publishing. Think of it as a re-usable pool-- a possible new class of documents on the Internet where all the content is re-usable.or is it?
But it violates all conventional thinking.
Nevertheless, Transcopyright is a method that appears to be legal in all countries of the world under the present copyright laws. (It is a license.)
It is an honest, open, daylight system that can be used by companies, universities, people with families and mortgages (unlike the downloading kids, who are taking big chances).
It is a unique solution; there is nothing else like it (a singularity with no neighbors). Transcopyright publishing is the only legal method that will allow users and other authors to remix and recomposite and republish on-line content. The transcopyright permission system is the only copyright license that allows dynamic on-line quotation, and only indirect documents can work with it.
Transcopyright publishing will not be just for text, but later audio and video. It should be possible to create virtual movies, re-editable on line, from footage provided independently by many people. This is all part of the idea.A SIMPLE IDEA, IMPOSSIBLE TILL NOW
Transcopyright requires some technical steps, but the idea is basically simple. It's a license. Rightsholders allow anyone to include their on-line content virtually in other on-line documents, provided--• the quoted content always comes from the rightsholder's serverUnfortunately this couldn't be done before, because
• the quoted content always remains connected to its original context.• previous electronic documents (like web pages) could not take portions of content dynamically from other documentsThis is fixed now. You may now use
• there was no way to distribute a document virtually, as a list of content
• ... and even if there were, the portions would not stay connected to their original contexts.• dynamic on-line quotation,This you can now do with the Xanadu® Transquoter™, explained at transliterature.org/transquoter. (Note: despite the trademarks, the Transquoter is open source.)
• assembling documents out of contents from elsewhere,
• with each portion connected to its original context.
USE TRANSCOPYRIGHT NOW IN THE REAL WORLD!
We have enough parts to start--THE LICENSE
1. You may put text or web documents under transcopyright permission. (Since we don't yet have an EDL editor, you can't yet change them, but later you can.) For example, a finalized document under transcopyright permission may be found at
2. Anyone may create indirect documents quoting transcopyrighted content virtually in any quantity, using the Xanadu Transquoter. And each portion stays connected to its original context.
3. To publish virtually, as permitted, you publish the EDL rather than the resulting transquotation page.
Because finalizing the license will involve legal wrangling, this is provisional. But nevertheless you should be able to use it now.
Here is the approximate Transcopyright permission statement:ANYONE IS FREE TO RE-USE THIS CONTENT VIRTUALLYThis phrasing of the license is not final, and we are working with
IN ANY AMOUNT AND ANY NEW CONTEXT, PROVIDED THAT
THE RE-USER DOES NOT SEND OUT THIS CONTENT,
BUT PROVIDES ONLY POINTERS TO THIS CONTENT
INVITING USERS TO BRING THE CONTENT FROM MY SERVER;
and PROVIDED THE RE-USER OFFERS A DIRECT PATH BACK
TO THE ORIGINAL CONTEXT.
I WILL CONTINUE TO MAINTAIN THE CONTENT
AT THE SAME ADDRESSES, AND ONLY MODIFY IT BY METHODS
WHICH PRESERVE THOSE ADDRESSES.
Larry Lessig of the Creative Commons to polish it. However,
the intent will not change, so you should be able to use it now with
the assurance that its basic meaning will not change.
However, since we have trademarked the term "transcopyright,"
you need only put the term "transcopyright" on your document
(instead of "copyright") to give this permission.
You may even abbreviate it "trans©". The "©" means that copyright
is claimed; the "trans" is a shorthand way of saying "the content may
be brought into other documents, under the transcopyright rules."
Remember, the objective is to create a unified quotable world-- that is, a pool of transquotable documents on the Internet, and that means including documents whose content is sold as well as free. Thus a key aspect of the plan is to build a microsale system, so that sold content may be offered under transcopyright by authors and publishers.A PACT WITH THE DEVIL?
This will mean that an indirect document may have content from commercial publishers as well as free content. But the price needs to be very low for small snippets.
From the user's point of view it must be simple. This means either setting a payment threshold-- "If I click on a document and the price is under five cents, buy it"-- or okaying each transaction.
But this must not be a pay-per-view system. Rather, a permanent cache should allow users to keep the content they have purchased, so the next time it's in a document, they already have it.
At the server end, portion delivery (now available from the EPrints server, eprints.org) needs to be combined with a micropurchase gateway.
Many people, especially in the open source movement, insist that content should be free, and point to such admirable free sources as the Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, and free video offered on line by the Internet Archive.A NOTE TO RIGHTSHOLDERS
But alas, all content is not going to be free. This is an iron fact. Much of the important writing since 1920 is sold under copyright, and that is not likely to change soon. To say nothing of commercial audio and video.
Content is being sold for money on line. Right now the trend is for content to be sold in big unquotable lumps. That is what we hope to change. We want to see it salable in very small amounts that can be transquoted, to liberate everyone's use of sold content, and make it freely mixable with free content.
There is an old saying: "We hang horse thieves, not in order that men shall be hanged, but in order that horses shall not be stolen."
Similarly, the Transcopyright project advocates microsale under transcopyright, not so that everything will be sold, but in order that sold content can be re-usable and transquotable on a fine-grain basis. This is not a pact with the devil, but trying to make the inevitable-- the sale of on-line content-- as flexible and liberating and beneficial to all parties as possible.
We invite you to make your content available for tiny purchase and transquotation once a microsale system is working.WHY ISN'T TRANSCOPYRIGHT AN OPEN SOURCE LICENSE?
What is the benefit? you ask.
There are a number of possible benefits, though this is still conjecture, since it hasn't been tried yet.• It will be a new revenue stream, possibly significantMany rightsholders (most recently the BBC) have spoken of making their content re-usable, but not known the best way. We believe this is the most powerful form of reusability that preserves copyright.
• It will provide windows, possibly many windows, into your works. Like "trial size shampoo," it will allow people to sample contents in a variety of your works, and continue on if they like
• It will allow the incremental purchase of works which readers might not be willing to buy all at once
• It may establish your content as a commodity people want to keep buying more of
• And so on.
Open source is wonderful and has transformed our world. In fact, a number of the Transcopyright objectives may be seen in the original open source license, the GPL by the great Richard Stallman.
However, open source does something entirely different. It states how you may re-distribute something which you have been given.
Suppose I put a piece of software under open source, under whatever license. This means you may acquire that code; and you may give it away, or sell it, according to the particular terms of that open source license. The material passes through your hands on the way to the next recipient.
A body of content under transcopyright, however, is not given away for redistribution. It does not pass through the hands of the quoting party. The quoting party merely puts the listing into the EDL and is assured of no lawsuit for so doing.
(It is a side point that the quoting party will need the content's address to quote it, and so probably has already acquired a copy of the portion to be requoted.)
To consider this further, see the official definition of open source by the Open Source Initiative at www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php.
A DEMO IMPLEMENTATION THAT'S OUT THERE
A remarkable mini-implementation of the transcopyright model, with micropayment, has been created by Jason Rohrer. Entitled Token_Word, it is available for experimentation on the Net. (There are certain small differences, but we won't discuss those now.) The system is at
See also the Token_Word writeup at