Friday, March 25, 2005

Yahoo! Embraces Creative Commons-Licensed Content via Beta Search Tool

As noted by MediaPost's Online Media Daily and others note the arrival of a new Beta search tool on Yahoo!'s portal that looks at Creative Commons-licensed content, providing a typical search box and the ability to specify content that can be used for commercial purposes and content that can be modified, adapted or built upon. Searches work well enough - a search for mobile content yields a link to at the top of the list, an early and enthusiastic Creative Commons supporter - but with about ten million pages of Creative Commons content out of billions of pages on the Web it's not likely that all that many people in the general marketplace for content are going to use a separate tool for this kind of searching. This is more of a move to appeal to the enthusiast core of webloggers and other Creative Commons aficionados and let them know that Yahoo! "gets it" on some level and wants to attract some street buzz and buy-in to their expanding efforts to use personal and community-built content as a cornerstone of their value proposition.

The greater issue to be addressed by Yahoo! and other search providers both public and institutional how to make their users aware of effective use for ALL content based on its rights structure. The Creative Commons movement has done an excellent job of helping valuable content to flow into valuable and valued new contexts and to encourage repurposing with respect for rights owners, but traditional copyrighted materials are also fair game for reuse - if the ease of doing so is provided. Services such as Copyright Clearance Center and Valeo IP make it easier than ever to do just that, providing opportunities for reuse from a much wider perspective than many may imagine. I'd much rather have a search environment that calls out the terms of reuse rights in general search results, so that the merit of the content itself can stand on its own in relation to other sources. This will become more important as premium content providers merge subscription-based and ecommerce-based sources in with publicly available sources via federated searches in enterprises and via public search engines. Great to have Creative Commons get more visibility, but there's a broader problem to be solved that's not really being addressed by "preaching to the choir".
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