Minor update for OpenAttribute

I’ve just pushed a minor update to OpenAttribute to github. It’s minor in terms of user-facing functionality, but improves support for one important use case, licensing of “objects” in a page.

*Summary:* OpenAttribute 0.8.1 (XPI) fixes Issues 1, 2, 3, and 5. All users should install this update.

CC REL is Creative Commons’ recommended way to describe licenses and licensed works. It builds on RDFa, a W3 recommendation, and allows publishers to specify the license and other related information about a work. One of the advantages of building on RDFa was that we could scope the assertions in the page, making it unambiguous (for software) what was being licensed: the page, a particular image or video, or even a specific portion of text. While the initial release of OpenAttribute properly detected the license, it was unable to display the results.

Creative Commons licenses are self-describing using CC REL: a tool (like OpenAttribute) can dereference the license and discover information like the human readable name, version, and permissions/requirements/prohibitions. While Igor’s code from GSoC used the CC API to retrieve this information, it was clear to me that using the license itself is preferable: using self-describing resources on the web allows everyone to play, without registration or integration.

OpenAttribute 0.8 had a somewhat naive implementation of license dereferencing and parsing, which caused problems when there were multiple licensed objects in a page. In the 0.8 release, only information about the last object was displayed in the dialog. OpenAttribute 0.8.1 includes a new licenseloader component, which implements some simple serialization for these requests. If multiple requests are made, they’re queued and dereferenced/processed in order.

You’ll note that OpenAttribute isn’t available from AMO yet. That’s partially because I’d like to have some more testing before making it available there. If you try it out and find bugs or have feature requests, you can file those on the github project.

date:2010-12-31 13:02:03
tags:add-on, cc, drumbeat, firefox, mozcc, OpenAttribute

Licenses & Attribution in Firefox: OpenAttribute

Seven years ago I started working on MozCC, an add-on for Firefox that exposed Creative Commons license information embedded in web pages. Little did I know that add-on would be the start of a career with CC, eventually leading me to San Francisco, and subsequently around the globe to talk about CC’s technology. MozCC was dropped from active maintenance somewhere around Firefox 3, but of the tools I built during my first couple years at CC, it’s the one I still get the most questions about.

This summer, Igor Lukanin worked on a Google Summer of Code project for CC to develop a replacement for MozCC, an add-on for Firefox that would expose license and attribution information. While the project wasn’t totally successful, it did produce an add-on that detected CC licenses in pages, and exposed details about them.

Last month I had the opportunity to attend Learning, Freedom, and the Web, the first Mozilla Drumbeat Festival, in Barcelona, Spain. One of the issues identified by attendees was that, while there are plenty of works being licensed under CC licenses, knowing how to properly attribute re-use is still a challenge. How many times have we seen presentations made up of beautiful photos, with a simple “CC licensed, Flickr” under each (if that)? The proposed solution was an attribution generator: a tool that would generate reasonable attribution for CC licensed works, based on information available.

I’ve spent the past month or so hacking on Igor’s code in my spare time, using it as the basis of an attribution generator for Firefox. The result is OpenAttribute (working name, selected by the Drumbeat group), which is available for testing on Firefox 3.6 and above (I’ve been testing with 3.6 and 4.0b8 on Linux). As Dame Shirley Bassey sang, this is “all just a little bit of history repeating.”


OpenAttribute is an add-on that displays a small “CC” icon in the URL bar when license information is present. Clicking that icon displays the page’s license information and, importantly, copy and paste HTML you can use to attribute the work. You can click the “More Information” button to display the details on licensed objects in the page.


There’s still work to be done, but at this point I think it’s ready for broader testing. You can download the add-on and find the code on github. Feedback, questions, suggestions should all probably go to the attrib-generator Google Group.

date:2010-12-29 16:00:52
tags:add-on, cc, drumbeat, firefox, mozcc, OpenAttribute