Thursday, February 14, 2008

We need to Standardize License Agreements

After reading this post, I thought that we should standardize privacy policies and license agreements. Let me explain what exactly I mean by that.

In class Dr. Chen expressed the need of having information in a machine readable format. For this purpose we mainly use standards like FOAF, OWL etc. Companies are supporting development of such standards because its in their interest to have all data on Web in machine readable format. They can make money out of it.

Similarly, why shouldn't we have a standard for license agreements and privacy policies? E.g. a site like Orkut or MySpace should publish usage and license information in some standard format.


<company > Google </company >
<application > Orkut </application >
<profilemode > public </profilemode >
<informationlifetime >forever:) </informationlifetime >
<othertags>value </othertags>

This way, I will be able to decide whether I want to join a particular site or not. I will use some automated "Software Lawyer" that tells me the risk associated in joining a particular site.

But I am sure that these companies won't have such a thing because they all want to use our information in abnormal ways and they want to hide this fact using those 10 page license agreements.

What do you guys think? Or does there exist something similar to what I just proposed?


Wes said...

This is an interesting concept, I'm not aware of anything that currently exists like this. It would be interesting to see if the major sites would buy into this if it existed.

Mike said...

Oh man this would make things so much easier... a great idea if everyone would agree to it.

Harry Chen said...

I think an RDF format representation of the Creative Commons (CC) license could be used to implement a system similar to what you have described.

While CC allows users to express concepts like "Reproduction", "DerivativeWorks" and "CommercialUse", but it doesn't cover useful concepts for modeling privacy protection -- the design of CC is not intended for describing End User License Agreements.

It will be an interesting project to study whether or not it's feasible to extend CC RDF vocabulary to cover EULA. A new language of such may allow us to create the kind of "Software Lawyer" that you have described.

Kishor said...

A blogger pointed me to P3P that seems to propose a similar thing.