Adding Creative Commons to RSS Feeds
Martin Hawksey, April 24th, 2012
This is a guest post by @mhawksey. Martin Hawksey is a Learning Technology Advisor for the JISC funded Centre for Educational Technology and Interoperability Standards (JISC CETIS). The majority of his work is focused on supporting theÂ UKâ€™s Open Educational Resources Programme.
So youâ€™ve decided to â€˜share your knowledge and creativity with the worldâ€™ 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. TheÂ Creative Commons licensing toolÂ 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?Â Here it is explained in plain English). There are a couple of ways to include your CC licenses in your RSS feed.Â 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 forÂ my blogÂ is already distributed using Googleâ€™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 arenâ€™t immediately apparent hereâ€™sÂ 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 hereâ€™s how you can do it.
Creating a custom Creative Commons â€˜flareâ€™
The way Iâ€™m going to show you to do this is using Feedburnerâ€™s FeedFlare option, which if youâ€™ve just setup Feedburnerâ€™s built-in CC licensing youâ€™ll know is an option to add links to the end of your RSS feed items. As part of FeedFlare you canÂ create your own custom â€˜flaresâ€™.
Custom FeedFlares are written in an XML format. Donâ€™t worry if you donâ€™t know what this is, itâ€™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 addingÂ this Google Gadget EditorÂ 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 â€˜hello worldâ€™ 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. EditÂ tag to match your chosen CC license and attribution (this is the text that will appear at the end of your post)
2. Change theÂ url to 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)
Open the FeedFlare options for your feed which are in the â€˜Optimizeâ€™ tab for your feed in Feedburner. In the â€˜(Enter or paste a Flare Unit URL)â€™ box under Personal FeedFlare paste the url copied from the Gadget Editor.
Once itâ€™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.
One final thing you might want to do is decide if you want to keep the â€˜Creative Commonsâ€™ 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 Iâ€™m not using my feed to submit content to other repositories and a machine readable CC license is on my website pages.
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 yourÂ My Feeds in FeedburnerÂ click on the feed you want to edit.Â
Adding a human readable license
1. Click on he â€˜Optimizeâ€™ tab and then on FeedFlare from the Services list
2. Tick the box in the feed column next to â€˜View Creative Commons Licenseâ€™
3. Click on â€˜Activate/Saveâ€™
Adding a machine readable license
1. Click on the â€˜Publicizeâ€™ tab and the â€˜Creative Commonsâ€™ from the Services list
2. Chose the licensing level
3. Click â€˜Activate/Saveâ€™