Friday, February 06, 2004

Creative Commons RSS Feed for iPods

A powerful demonstration of the power of Creative Commons licenses to make available new music to people is possible if the necessary pieces of an Internet application fall into place. Users would be able to freely assemble a vast collection of great music, for devices such as the iPod, if the necessary technology could be stitched together. This would help emerging artists to reach an audience, provide people with access to music, and further promote the adoption of such licenses for other works.

How? Well, here in the UK, there has been some talk around the opportunities presented by iPods, or similar musical jukebox devices, which are not preloaded with music. For example, the Ministry of Sound (a dance club, magazine & record company - not a Government Department) plans to launce a digital music player with the advantage that it is “…already loaded with our own music” (source: Times 27/1/2004).

The benefits of a large, illustrative, music collection supplied under Creative Commons licenses could similarly be offered to users if the necessary application was developed to take an RSS feed and, over time, download the listed music onto a new (i.e. blank) iPod, via a computer and broadband connection. The costs would be minimal, as only the necessary software to facilitate this downloading, and the compilation of the necessary RSS feed would be required. Downloading could be enabled from applications such as BitTorrent, which mean there would be no additional hosting / downloading costs.

Creative Commons would seem to be the ideal group to compile such a feed as they would be demonstrating the power of their licenses to make great works available. They also have an identifiable presence on the Internet, through their website which people are aware of and trust. They also have the necessary knowledge / contacts to compile such a list.

There would be nothing to stop other groups with expertise and motivation from compiling such lists, in the form of RSS feeds, to similarly make material available to users. The BBC, for example, could even interpret such activity as part of its Public Services remit (Sections 1.1 & 1.2), which would really get things moving!

Assuming that an application could download 10 songs per hour, using a broadband connection, it would only take a few days for users to build up a sizeable collection of material for their iPod / jukebox. The “Attribution” link in Creative Commons licenses would further leverage this collection by linking back to where more songs from the artist could be accessed (for example, Oxygen by Horton's Choice, would link back to other great songs).

The necessary application would need to be developed and supported. All the necessary people are going to be at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, so if they got together something along these lines could easily happen.

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