Guest Post on Creative Commons UK: Adding Creative Commons to your RSS feeds in Feedburner

Adding some custom Flare

Today I have a guest post on the Creative Commons UK blog on Adding Creative Commons to your RSS feeds Looks like they've moved it to here. The post outlines how you can add a link and text to a regionalised Creative Commons license to your RSS feed.

The solution isn’t ideal and makes the best of a bad world, but hopefully it is useful if only to show you how you can add things to the end of your Feedburner feed.

The process of documenting this solution surfaced a number of issues which I’m keen to explore further. Here are a couple listed here more as a note to myself to follow-up:

  • variation in the availability of CC licenses types (CC-BY, CC-BY-SA etc) on 3rd party service like YouTube, Flickr and Slideshare
  • generic CC licensing over regionalised versions – 3rd party services offering option to CC license usually default to generic (here’s a Word Doc comparing the CC-BY 2.5 with the CC-BY 2.5 Scotland - afraid you'll need to open in Word in Review - Final: Show markup mode).
  • human versus machine readable licenses – using the OpenAttribute Extension I wasn’t able to detect machine readable licences on YouTube and Flickr (Slideshare worked), but Flickr includes CC licenses information for items in a users RSS version of their photostream (I notice in the OpenAttribute post on the Creative Commons blog that in the video CC is detected in Flickr).
  • discoverability of user activity RSS feeds from 3rd party services -  Joss Winn has started documenting some endpoints as part of the Bebob project
  • who is consuming CC licensed RSS feeds outside of education? – this question was prompted by James Burke at Creative Commons UK (@deburca).

So a number of things to think about.

[The guest post also led me to posting a Pitch for out-of-hours project: Develop a Chrome extension to include Creative Commons license in embed code – no interest yet so it’s gone to the bottom of my list ;)]

[Mainly so I've got a record I've now included the original guest post below]


Creative Commons License ToolSo you’ve decided to ‘share your knowledge and creativity with the world’ licensing your blog content using Creative Commons. Having chosen the license for your needs, next you need to mark your work so that other know how they can remix or reuse your content. The Creative Commons licensing tool helps you select the license you need but also generates the code for your website.

Visitors to your website will see how your work is licensed, but what about people who read your content using different ways? What about people who subscribe to your content using RSS feeds (unsure about RSS? Here it is explained in plain English)? There are a couple of ways to include your CC licenses in your RSS feed.  You can, for example, manually copy and paste your license code to the end of every blog post, or your blogging platform may include options to insert a custom footnote which could include the license link.

Burning a CC license

As the RSS feed for my blog is already distributed using Google’s Feedburner service I use the built in options to insert a human and machine readable Creative Commons license into my feed. As these options aren’t immediately apparent here’s a quick guide for turning them on.

One of the drawbacks of this solution is that while you have control over the licensing level (CC-BY, CC-BY-SA etc.) there is no way to select the regionalised license to match your legal jurisdiction. If like me this is important to you here’s how you can do it.

Creating a custom Creative Commons ‘flare’

The way I’m going to show you to do this is using Feedburner’s FeedFlare option, which if you’ve just setup Feedburner’s built-in CC licensing you’ll know is an option to add links to the end of your RSS feed items. As part of FeedFlare you can create your own custom ‘flares’.

Custom FeedFlares are written in an XML format. Don’t worry if you don’t know what this is, it’s not important for this guide, what is important is having somewhere Feedburner can read this custom XML file. Fortunately Google can help with this problem too. By adding this Google Gadget Editor to your iGoogle page you can write and publish some XML for Feedburner to read (Google account is required).

Once the editor is installed paste the text below replacing the ‘hello world’ example.

<FeedFlareUnit>
<SCRIPT/>
<Catalog>
<Title>Attribution CC-BY Martin Hawksey</Title>
<Description> Displays my Creative Commons CC-BY license. </Description>
</Catalog>
<FeedFlare>
<Text>CC-BY Martin Hawksey</Text>
<Link href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/scotland/" rel="license"/>
</FeedFlare>
</FeedFlareUnit>

Before saving there are a couple of changes we need to make.

  1. Edit <text> tag to match your chosen CC license and attribution (this is the text that will appear at the end of your post)
  2. Change theurlto match the address of the license you are using

You can now save the xml using any filename you like. Copy the link address of your file (right click on the file name hyperlink in the top right of the gadget editor)

Copy link for xml

Open the FeedFlare options for your feed which are in the ‘Optimize’ tab for your feed in Feedburner. In the ‘(Enter or paste a Flare Unit URL)’ box under Personal FeedFlare paste the url copied from the Gadget Editor.

Add custom feedflare

Once it’s added tick the box next to it in the Feed column and scroll down to save your settings. Your feed should now show how the post is licensed with a clickable link to the full license text.

Custom CC-BY link in feed

One final thing you might want to do is decide if you want to keep the ‘Creative Commons’ option on in the Publicize tab of Feedburner. This option adds generic license details to the machine readable part of your feed, not the regionalised version you are using. On my feed I have deactivated it because I’m not using my feed to submit content to other repositories and a machine readable CC license is on my website pages.

CC License in feed metadata

Of course all of this hassle would go away if Feedburner allowed users to choose their jurisdiction. In fact looking across other services I regularly use like YouTube, Flickr and Slideshare where Creative Commons licenses can be applied it is always generic. Should these services not be looking to take it to the next logical step and providing regionalised licensing options?

Footnote: Turning on Creative Commons Licensing in Feedburner

From your My Feeds in Feedburner click on the feed you want to edit.

Adding a human readable license

  1. Click on he ‘Optimize’ tab and then on FeedFlare from the Services list
  2. Tick the box in the feed column next to ‘View Creative Commons License’
  3. Click on ‘Activate/Save’

Adding a machine readable license

  1. Click on the ‘Publicize’ tab and the ‘Creative Commons’ from the Services list
  2. Chose the licensing level
  3. Click ‘Activate/Save’