RFC: Creative Cosmos, a CC Filesharing Community

draft

I propose a Filesharing/Community system for Creative Commons content based on AudioGalaxy (1998-2002).

The system shall be capable of transmitting small (1-10MB) files, especially Audio files, Graphics/Photos and Text documents.

In order to ensure no unauthorised content enters the system (the core problem of AudioGalaxy),  only signed files are accepted (asymetric key authentication). Authorised Agencies (CC Foundation, Netlabels, artists/authors) can sign files and thus add them to the sharing network. A “master key” is held by a central agency that can revoke and authorise signing privileges.

Thus, a leaked secret key or a compromised Authorised Agency can be revoked and copyrighted as well as infected content can be taken out of the network.

Motivation

Open Content right now suffers from obscurity. Only scene-internal, fractured portals offer Open Content. For a new artist, it is still hard to become known. In this, Open Content is as of now no alternative to a commercial contract for emerging artists.

In 2002, Janis Ian wrote “The Internet Debacle: An alternative View”. In it, she already described how Open Content can help established artists like herself or writer Mercedes Lackey. Obviously, being able to “sample” an artist, customers are much more inclined to buy CDs or go to concerts.

The advent of Open Content, however, made the fact that files are offered freely no longer enough to attract potential customers. What seems to lack is an internet-wide community where people with common tastes can share recommendations and even totally unknown and local artists can find an audience.

Why Audiogalaxy?

Exactly this was described by Kennon Ballou in his epitaph “RIP Audiogalaxy”. Audiogalaxy existed between 1998 and shut down 2002 June, 17th.

Audiogalaxy was voted one of The greatest defunct Web sites and dotcom disasters on CNET. Apart from Kennon Ballou’s article, Tom Kleinpeter wrote a series of articles about the technical history of the platform.

The community-centre of Audiogalaxy could be a perfect solution to the problem of obscurity faced by new artists.

File-Sharing Features

Most features could be built upon former Audiogalaxy concepts. Apart from it, different media formats shall be allowed.

New files can only be added by Trusted Authorised Agencies. Only authenticated files will be transported. File identification by Hash is already implemented into BitTorrent; it should be manageable to couple the identification Hash with an Asymetric Key signature.

Authorised Agencies are issued a Secret Key that is only valid when signed by the central network administration. The network administration and issuing agency both can revoke signature of a file; the network administration as well as the agency itself can revoke the key of an agency.

With this, a sound system should be possible to exclude copyrighted content (the end of most centralised file-sharing networks, including Audiogalaxy) as well as stopping the distribution of infected contend (which gets a new hash value after infection, invalidating the signature).

Community Features

A sample Audiogalaxy profile looked like this: Kennon Ballou’s Profile, Id 14. Bands, like 7% Solution, were also networked with their available songs (not necessarily their whole repertoire) and other bands that popped up often in people fancying the band.

Even if commercial bands do not have songs as Open Content, they can still be referenced in a user’s or band’s profile.

CC-License information in Files

The appropriate CC License should be stated as part of the file; eg

  • in a text file in as part of the text
  • in an image (JPEG) file in the EXIF information, naming the author as well
  • in an MP3 file as part of the MP3 tag, including author and title as well

Including the license information in the file itself allows files to be distributed and used without a seperate license text.

Trusted Authorised Agencies

Trusted Authorised Agencies are groups or individuals identifying themselves to the Network Administration. Authentication should be based on X.509, or key traffic shall be authenticated by X.509 certificates. A Trusted Agency is fully responsible for the content it enters into the network.

As only Trusted Authorised Agencies can add content to the Filesharing network, the danger of copyrighted material entering the network is greatly reduced from the start.

The Administrator can revoke the signature of the Trusted Agency altogether, or revoke the signature of a specific content file, thereby bypassing the Agency. It shall be possible to undo a revokation (by re-signing a file) if claims by alleged IP holders are settled or proven to be invalid.

Legal Liability

Legally, the Authorised Agencies are held liable for the content they signed; the Network Administration can only be held liable when not reacting in reasonable time on complaints by parties claiming to hold intellectual property on offered content. The Administration should revoke signature of specific contested files first, only revoking the signature of an Authorised Agency as a last resort or when bad faith is proven.

Asymetric-key signatures help protect the Network Administration from IP liabilities as responsibility for providing content is delegated to Trusted Authorised Agencies. The revokation privileges of the Administration ensure that it can react on complaints by a party claiming IP on specific content files.

This document will be revised and rewritten to include future enhancement requests.

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