A Database Called The Web

Accepted Session
Short form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 18, 2009 from 5:00 – 5:45pm in Morrison


In 2002 people wanted to build a database to track creative works; we
built that database and it's called the Web.


Since its inception Creative Commons has made machine readable
metadata a critical part of the licensing infrastructure. Our choice
was obvious (to us): RDF and the Semantic Web. This of course gave us a chicken and egg problem: how do you convince people the Semantic Web isn’t just a bunch of academic dreaming when, well, there wasn’t much evidence. Six years later, we’ve made it work. With the publication of the CC Rights Expression Language, we have an extensible, independent, machine readable way to express information about works. A machine readable “database” that people are contributing to every time they mark a work with a license.

During this presentation we’ll:

  • Demonstrate how this metadata can be used by other web applications to inform users of attribution and re-use specifics
  • Demonstrate our lightweight copyright registry, the CC Network,
    which is purely driven by semantic web metadata
  • Build an even lighter weight version that integrates with the CC
    license deeds (with no changes to the CC deed code)
  • Build a Yahoo SearchMonkey application that exposes license and
    attribution information to the user
  • Give specific guidelines to site developers who want to free their data without building a specialized API

Speaking experience


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    Nathan Yergler

    Creative Commons


    Nathan R. Yergler (http://yergler.net) is Chief Technology Officer at Creative Commons. Since joining Creative Commons as a software engineer in 2004, Nathan has been responsible for helping build Creative Commons’ technology infrastructure. Recent projects include participation in the development of the Creative Commons Rights Expression Language and the technical and metadata architecture for CC0.

    Prior to Creative Commons, Nathan was a faculty member at Canterbury School, a leading college preparatory school in Fort Wayne, Indiana. At Canterbury School Nathan developed an introductory computer programming curriculum based on the Python programming language.

    Nathan holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Purdue University and resides in San Francisco, California with his dog, Madeline.