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   XML for website copyright exchange

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Just had a thought for a useful application of XML to the online 
copyright arena and wanted to get some feedback.  I do graphic/website 
design for a living and find that I spend a lot of my time creating and 
requesting written approvals for the use of other people's copyrighted 
materials.  This tends to delay my ability to publish site updates that 
have been completed but are awaiting written approval or renewal.  To 
give an example, I maintain the website for a day-spa that recently 
decided to add a page listing the companies whose products they use at 
the spa.  Each product manufacturer has a little section on the page 
that has their logo, some marketing text, and a link to the 
manufacturer's website.  In order to make sure I'm covered in case of a 
copyright infringement lawsuit, I need to keep on file a written letter 
of approval from each manufacturer that states I have their permission 
to use that particular set of images and text on that particular page.  
I know for a fact that in this particular case every one of the 
manufacturers viewed and verbally approved the work within two days of 
completion, but several of them took two or three weeks to send me the 
documentation.  There are several problems with doing things this way:

1. You are at the mercy of the copyright owner with regard to the 
language and terms of the written approval unless they agree to use a 
document that you have written.  I find that often they do not do a very 
good job of specifying which materials you can use or on which sections 
of the site they can be used.

2. They almost always include a clause requiring that you request a new 
approval if you change anything on that page. To stay within the law, 
this means I have to request a new approval just to fix a typo or a link.

3. It is difficult for other employees at either company that were not 
involved in the original approval process to tell if the material is in 
compliance, since all they have to work with is the date on the approval 
letter and what is currently on the site.

I think it would be extremely useful to have a standardized way of 
handling these approvals and proofs of approval, and XML seems like the 
perfect tool for the job.  What I am thinking is that every image or 
chunk of text within a website whose copyright owner is external would 
be wrapped in some sort of identifying tag.  The site could then have an 
XML file that lists things like the date of approval, copyright owner, 
duration of the approval (when it has to be reviewd again), etc.  I'm 
thinking that the whole system should work in a manner similar to 
security certificates, so that a third-party web service can verify / 
issue approval certificates.  If anybody has any thoughts, I would love 
to hear them.  Maybe there is already something out there that handles 
these issues?


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