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Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Obama's transition website freely licensed... and the online commons quantification implications is the web site of Obama and Biden's transition to government, and they've licensed the content with a Creative Commons Attribution licence. Kudos.

But when I read about this on, I went to and couldn't find any reference to Creative Commons. I looked at the HTML source and there was no reference to Creative Commons. It turns out that there is a page on the site about copyright policy, and this has a statement that covers all other pages on the site.

If this kind of licensing (having one page on your site that states that all other pages are licensed, and then linking to that page from all other pages on the site) is common (and I think it is), it means that just counting links to Creative Commons (or any other licence, for that matter) gives you a pretty bad estimation of the number of licensed pages out there.

As an example of what I'm talking about, consider the following comparison:
So our naive methodology for quantifying the online commons - i.e. counting links to Creative Commons licences - says that of these two sites, which are about the same size, and are both wholly licensed with Creative Commons licences, the first one contributes 230 times as much to the commons as the second.

I beg to differ.

(For more on this topic, and some ways it can be tackled, see my paper from iSummit. And stay tuned for more.)

(via, via

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Anonymous Anonymous said:
Ben, can you work out a way to estimate:
- what proportion of sites have such a central licence-page? and
- what proportion of pages on those sites are missed by the direct measurement technique?

If so, you could provide an estimate of the complete population.

Are there characteristics of a central licence-page that could be searched for? e.g. the text "copyright notice" or "copyright policy"?

On such sites, count all pages that have no link to the copyright licence *and* do not otherwise contain a © symbol?

There's a risk of double-counting, but that could be controlled for?

Regards (and HNY!) ... Roger
Blogger Ben Bildstein said:
First, to Roger: yes, that's pretty much right - you have to take an heuristic approach, unfortunately. I'm going to have a fair bit of work to do on this, but that's kind of okay, because it does constitute a chapter of my thesis, and I'm planning on presenting a paper on it at the Unlocking IP conference in April.
Blogger Ben Bildstein said:
Second, I just had an analogy I wanted to share:

Estimating commons like this is like estimating Australia's population by counting the amount of money in each person's wallet.
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