Why is copyright law so weird?

When we came across an old Remington Typewriter in a small curiosity shop in Manchester Vermont (founded 1761), the 12-year old looked at it with great curiosity and asked how it worked. He knew it was a writer’s tool but he was unable to figure out how text was produced. So I explained how to […]


OK Festival wrap-up

The first group started out with a question on which is most important: a common API, or an open API. My case here was that there’s no shortage of APIs in the world (an API is a machine-readable interface to a database or service which makes it possible for separate services to connect to one […]


Wikimania part 2: what will elog.io do?

Imagine being able to browse pages on the Internet, finding images you like, and with the click of a button in the corner, get information about who participated in the creation of the image, where it’s from…and if it’s from a gallery, library, archive or museum, which collection it’s part of and where to find […]

Screencapture from Mathias Klang

Dreaming of the Grand Budapest Hotel

One of the best films I have seen this year is the totally awesome The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson 2014) and not coincidentally one of the more amusing things I have come across recently are reviews on TripAdvisor for… you guessed it! The Grand Budapest Hotel. No, these are not reviews for the movie but […]

Photo by Flickr user Bri an Auer, via photopin

Monkey selfies bring copyright to the forefront

There is an interesting conflict brewing in England involving a photographer, Wikimedia and a monkey. The basic story is that David Slater was trying to take a photo of a crested black macaque. One of the monkeys took a camera and took hundreds of photos. A set of these turned out to be the (now-famous) […]


Wikimania summary and Commons Machinery future

This is the first in a series of blog posts where we’ll talk about our recent development work, what we were up to at Wikimania 2014 (in London), and where that will lead us in the future. Let’s start with a nine sentence recap: Commons Machinery is developing tools that make attribution automatic, and which […]

Wikimania, photo by Flickr user mac steve via photopin

Join the #attributionrevolution at WikiMania

Jonas and Peter will be at WikiMania in London this weekend, and hope to meet a lot of people there who care about the attribution and context of creative works. We will host a discusson about the relevance of attribution, the possibilities that proper attribution offers, and how contributors to Wikipedia (and Wikipedia itself!) want […]

Photo by from photopin, licensed CC

Museums, hairdressers, and artillery: survivor bias leads to failed openness

Archives and museums are filled with amazing material and most are naturally thinking about how to better use Internet technologies to become more useful and relevant to the public. Success stories abound: The Commons on Flickr, Oxford’s Bodleian Library digitized a 550 year old copy of the Gutenberg Bible, The Europeana Project and more, and […]


Homage vs. plagiarism: which one is it?

There is a dramatic scene in the movie The Untouchables (Brian de Palma, 1987) where a baby stroller is filmed in slow motion, rolling out of control down the magnificent stairs of Union Station, in the middle of a shoot out. The film is set in prohibition-era Chicago and it’s about how law enforcement took […]