Evolution of LCC
LCC started in October 2010 as a response to Commissioner Neelie Kroes call for “Big Ideas for the Digital Agenda” initiated by the European Publishers Council with the aim of facilitating the more effective management of rights data on the internet through the development of a cross-media standardised communication layer.
The LCC Project was initiated in March 2012 as an unincorporated, cross-media, multinational coalition of more than 40 partners from the media and creative industries, including representatives of authors and artists, working together with standards bodies to establish automated communications between rightsholders and those who wish to use content. It concluded in April 2013 with the publication of the LCC Framework.
In March 2014 LCC Ltd was formed to maintain the LCC Framework and to take forward the work initiated by the LCC Project.
Problem and Solution
There is a huge and rapidly expanding amount of digital content available through the internet, but it is often difficult for companies and individuals who want to trade in rights to find each other. Transactions are too people-heavy and therefore both expensive and inefficient. New business opportunities are deferred because of the cost of complying with multiple standards, and registries and exchanges are unable to communicate effectively or automatically.
The underlying principle of LCC, set out in the earliest LCC documents, is that "the answer to the machine is the machine". If digital rights data are complex, and getting more so by the day, then the network itself holds the key to putting these in better order: digital technology, working with well-structured, machine-interpretable data.
The LCC vision is not Utopian: there will always be problems with the creation and supply of data, and there will always be many rights transactions and data flows which cannot be wholly automated through data weaknesses or the need for human negotiation. However, there is a great deal that can be done to create a data network suited to digital needs and capabilities that puts users and providers in contact as seamlessly as possible. It has been achieved for much online commerce, and there is no reason why it cannot now be done for rights.
What the LCC is not
The LCC is neutral in relation to specific legal constraints. Laws, agreements and policies, and the values which they may attach to specific rights, are for lawmakers and rightsholders to determine. The LCC's role is to be able to represent the full range of their possible choices in simple-as-possible machine-readable ways as the data moves up and down the supply chain, and then to do all it can to encourage solutions to manage this data. The Framework must therefore accommodate rights granted under different jurisdictions, and entitlements (such as the role of administering licences or collecting royalties) which are assigned by agreement or policy and not by law.
The LCC is also neutral about business models. Rights may be exploited for value or exercised freely, according to the wishes of whoever has the right to assign them. Distinctions between "commercial" and "cultural" domains are also not relevant at this generic level: libraries, museums and archives may be acquirers and exploiters of rights and creators of content just as commercial publishers or aggregators are, as can a bank or a supermarket or a private individual loading a video or photograph onto a file-sharing service. Other apparent "anomalies" such as works in the public domain, fair use provisions or "orphan works" are also to be viewed not as exceptional cases but as other kinds of rights which should be expressible consistently alongside others.
Nor does the LCC replace any existing standards or registries: just the opposite. Its task is to design and implement ways in which existing data, identifier and messaging standards can work together (or interoperate) in the most seamless and automated ways. Only where suitable tools or standards which are needed do not exist does the LCC encourage new initiatives to fill gaps.