Introducing the Universal Data License

The vision of the permaweb is one of open and composable data, globally distributed and accessible by all, permanently. By breaking open the massive data silos that defined Web 2.0, we can build a better web where creators are guaranteed the right to their voice, and can define the terms for the value they provide.

In order for this vision to be possible, value must flow equitably to those who create and contribute to the permaweb. For this purpose, today we are introducing the beta release of the Universal Data License for public comment and feedback.

The Universal Data License is a standard framework for digital content monetization on the permaweb. It allows creators to set their own terms for the usage of content that they upload to Arweave, and for developers to permissionlessly license that data in their apps.

The Universal Data License grants developers access to a rich library of high quality content for their apps from day one. This means there is no “cold start” for new apps built on Arweave. Further, the license is programmable. Creators can add custom tags to their uploads to define specific license terms. This provides flexibility for content creators, as well as allowing developers to easily filter for content that they may want to use.

Let’s explore an example:

Artist X makes music and decides to upload it to the permaweb, tagging their songs with the Open Data License. In the future, there are several permaweb apps that monetize music by the number of streams they get. Any of these apps can feature X’s music on their platform, and X is automatically paid a fee from the revenue that is generated. X has uploaded their content once, and yet is paid royalties from every application that distributes it.

The license provides programmable parameters for aspects of monetization such as the length of license term, currency used for payments, and the fee. Creators set these parameters at the time of upload, and platforms may then utilize the licensed content if they consent to the terms. Tokenized payments can be made automatically and trustlessly via Warp smart contracts on Arweave.

This same dynamic can be implemented for all types of content, including videos, written posts, photos, and visual art. For the first time, the terms of licensing can now be set by the creator, rather than the platform they upload to.

On the open and composable web, content flows freely across permaweb apps with value accruing to creators and platforms that successfully distribute the content. The Universal Data License replaces the exploitative walled gardens of the internet today with win-win situations that benefit everyone.

This is the initial beta release of the Universal Data License, and is being introduced today by Forward Research to gather feedback from the community. You can read the entire text of the Universal Data License here, and the accompanying technical overview of implementing the license here.

We are extremely excited by the potential of what this license can unlock and the greater implications it has for the creator economy on the permaweb. If you are interested in getting involved in working on the Universal Data License, contact Forward Research on Twitter.

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