Britain's experiment in "making copyright work like the internet" reached beta stage on Tuesday following a deal with a major picture library which gives developers half a million photos to work with.
The non-profit, open source Copyright Hub is designed to bring about one-click licensing of relatively low-value digital works, such as photos, visual artwork, articles, or songs by making finding the owner and getting their permission as easy as possible. So easy, in fact, an app or third party web tool should be able to do it.
Currently, copyrighted work is simply used without permission because it's difficult to find the creator, who then sees nothing in the way of revenue from his work's usage. The Hub is really an umbrella for a number of working experiments and could grow into "the DNS" of rights.
In response, the Hub today announced half a million images from the Mary Evans Picture Library are available, with the idea that developers and startups can build new and innovative licensing-based businesses using the platform.
The Hub says it has so-called "use cases" in music, publishing, news and audio/visual under way.
Hub CEO Dominic Young told us the idea is to "make copyright work like the internet works, to provide the essential plumbing. It's like DNS in that it does complicated work behind the scenes to resolve things and give you something simple."
"Once you can link content to owners, and the owner can send back more information, you can get more licensing services. Once you link pieces of content to machines that know about it, and content can always be linked back, then you can do all sorts of things," he said.
"Currently the law gives you control, but there's no practical way to hold on to your work. This was not a deliberate omission, it's just that nobody built it on day one of the internet. Let's build better things and share the rewards fairly," he added.