Today is a big day for The Copyright Hub.
Our vision for simpler, automated, licensing has taken its first step in public. We have launched our first Hub Application, and it can be used by anyone.
You can download a plug-in to your browser, right click on pictures you find online, and if it’s a picture the Hub knows about, you’ll be instantly connected to the copyright owner.
We’ve been working on the technology underpinning this for a bit over 18 months with our partners the Digital Catapult.
Those 18 months have been momentous in their own way. Even while we worked away on the deep foundations, with nothing much to see while we were doing it, we have seen our support grow and strengthen.
The creative industries more than doubled their financial support for us. We acquired four, then ten, then eighteen and now nearly a hundred Hub Applications. Implementations of our technology being planned and worked on before we had even launched a single one.
Our international support has been growing as well, with active conversations across the world and financial support from three continents.
The first live Hub Application takes us another step forward. This is the day we always assumed would signal the start of real interest in The Copyright Hub, so I hope the next 100 Hub Applications are not far away.
When you see what we have launched you might think it looks simple. In fact we very much hope you do. Because our goal has always been to hide complexity. So whatever is going on behind the scenes, the user should just get what they need, as easily as possible.
Behind the scenes of our plugin and today’s first Hub Application is a fairly complex process, but it happens in less than a second.
As it grows from tens of thousands to millions of images, from dozens of creators and their agencies, and extends again to embrace music, film, TV, books, magazines, newspapers and other forms of content it will get considerably more complex. But we hope you still won’t notice.
Because when that happens, and when it’s just as easy for you to use it for your creations, we’ll know that the 18 months we’ve spent so far and the many more to come have been time and money well spent.
We set out to build a technology which would be capable of spreading across the entire internet. To have any chance of that there were certain things we knew.
We knew it had to be open source and free to use, otherwise lots of people wouldn’t use it.
We knew it had to be non-profit, because otherwise it would become a gatekeeper of other people’s profits.
We knew it had to be for the whole world, because solving a problem just for the UK isn’t solving anything.
What we didn’t know, at least not for sure, was whether it could work.
Now we do.