Yahoo adds Creative Commons search for locating reusable content

Friday, March 25, 2005

Professor Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons presents at the 2005 O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego, California. The photo was located using Yahoo's new Creative Commons search engine tool.

Yahoo! has launched a beta version search tool at, designed to locate content on the web under a Creative Commons (CC) license. While most copyrighted material on the web does not allow reuse, other than "fair-use" allowances, copyrighted material held by Creative Commons licensing allows the public to reuse material in a variety of ways specified by the copyright holder under the licensing agreement.

The nonprofit organization behind the license, Creative Commons, was founded in 2002 by Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig. The organization provides 11 agreements customized for use in various countries. Depending on the licensing agreement, users can reproduce or modify the work as long as they mention the original creator. Some licenses prohibit reusing works in a commercial setting.

Not everyone is impressed by the new search tool. Shelley Powers, author of Practical RDF from O'Reilly Press, writes in her book's blog, "Since CC licenses are recorded using a standardized meta language," Yahoo! is, "just checking for this information in the process of their normal operations." John Batelle of Searchblog points out that incorporates a similar feature in's Open Search. Wikinews reporter Pingswept found that requires registration and login to use the Creative Commons search.

Lessig recently reflected on Creative Commons' success in a guest post at Yahoo!'s search blog. Describing an event at the launch of Creative Commons Korea, he said: "At the end of our final celebratory dinner, one of the judges who had helped launch CC-Korea asked me, 'so what will make CC in the world as successful as CC-Korea?' And I recognized, for the first time, that this project that we started two and a half years ago had finally left home. I was no longer asking others to help; others were demanding from me a success to match their own."