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March 21, 2004

Coming Attractions: Embedding CreativeCommons Licenses by Digital Watermarking

Larry Lessig had quick visit to Japan on the weekend. While it was only three days, he had speech gigs. In my view, the one hosted by NTT's Inter Communications Center on Mar 20 was a could-be-remarkable event for the future of CreativeCommons. Or, it was possibly a preview of what to come.

The event started out with Larry's talk based on Free Culture. Then transformed as three member panel discussion with Hiroo Yamagata who translated the Code and The Future of Ideas into Japanese and Joi Ito of Neoteny who is very well known for his blog joi.ito.com/.

During the session, there was an interesting tech demo was inserted. It was by Digital Commons Project team from NTT Cyber Solutions Laboratories based in Yokosuka, Japan. The team showed their latest development of web based system that binds CreativeCommons licence data with actual data of artist works by using digital watermarks and hush functions.

Particularly, the mechanism with digital watermarking is quite interesting. The technology embeds CC licence data (XML format) into JPEG and other type of graphics data as well as moving image data. The technologies for audio digital watermarking wasn't available yet on this demo. However, there are various algorithms to make audio watermarking so it would be a matter of time.

As some of you know that the digital watermark is a technique that to hide small size of data such as text into larger size of data such as graphics file by changing small bits of larger data in some spreading manner and mathematical functions. When used to graphics and audio files, usually there are artifacts. If you look or listen to the watermarked files very carefully, you might be able to notice. But it is very subtle if the settings are right. Also, these days almost every graphics and audio files are compressed so they all have some artifact. If the amount of the artifact is less than the amount that compression techniques produce, practically you can find it acceptable. (ok, I know that many of high end audiophiles disagree. but I think they won't accept any of compression schemes anyway.)

The technology is possibly coming available on their web site at http://www.digitalcommons.jp within next several month. I suppose that, after this technology is widely available, searcher of artistic content can be guided to actual data file quite easily. It would boost interaction between artists and content searchers and could make more CreativeCommons licence based collaboration possible and easy.


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I'd like to talk with you about other
watermark products out there. I have a
very interesting proposition I'd like
to discuss.

E-me if you can help.


Richard Askew, Principal


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