[okfn-discuss] Creating a Universal Content Liberation tool

Erik Moeller eloquence at gmail.com
Mon Apr 18 21:43:27 UTC 2016

As alluded to in the post quoted below, I've been working on this for a bit:


It's a (fully free/libre) tool for downloading your content
contributions to supported websites (currently Yelp, Amazon.com, IMDB,
TripAdvisor) and, optionally, publishing those contributions under an
open license. To publish on freeyourstuff.cc, you need an account on
the site.

The main tool is a Chrome/Chromium extension [1]. This makes it easy
to download the user's contributions without the need to request/store
credentials. It's limited to text contributions right now, e.g., the
text of all your Yelp reviews.

I'm looking for early alpha-tester feedback (data may be lost during
this test). To install the extension, please follow the instructions
in: https://github.com/eloquence/freeyourstuff.cc

I would also welcome collaborators. If you'd specifically like to add
support for a new site, please see https://freeyourstuff.cc/plugins
for the plugin developer documentation.

Finally, I've tried to make it easy to mirror content liberated with
this tool. Would you be able to run a mirror? If so, please follow the
instructions here: https://freeyourstuff.cc/mirrors

I look forward to your feedback, privately or on the dedicated
listserv for this project:

I can also be found on #freeyourstuff on irc.freenode.net. :)



[1] I moved away from the idea of using Electron because it would lead
to a huge download and would make it harder to manage credentials. I
haven't looked into what it would take to port it to Firefox yet.
Firefox has support for JavaScript extensions similar to Chrome, but
there might be issues with the security model. Worth investigating.

2015-10-14 1:14 GMT-07:00 Erik Moeller <eloquence at gmail.com>:
> Hi all --
> Millions of people contribute content to sites with restrictive terms of
> service. This content is typically under traditional copyright, with license
> granted to the site to redistribute, but to nobody else. Bulk download is
> often against ToS, and if any re-use is permitted, it's frequently in the
> form of excerpts or "for non-commercial purposes".
> When I say "content", I mean everything from Yelp/Amazon/IMDB/... reviews,
> to Instagram photos, to tweets, essentially what's often described through
> the lovely phrase "user-generated content".
> What can we do to begin to dramatically shift the balance of power in favor
> of users, giving them control over their content?
> Google did something pretty cool a while ago through their "Google Takeout"
> tools: https://www.google.com/settings/takeout
> I think it would be great to have a universal "Takeout" style app, with
> plugins for specific sites like Yelp/Amazon/IMDB, that lets users download
> content, synchronize their local copies, and upload to remote repositories
> under a free license. As more people hear about it, more plugins would get
> written, and eventually we could cover all the top sites. This tool would
> have to just scrape the content in many cases, due to lack of APIs that give
> you the goods without restrictions.
> Does such a thing already exist in some form? If not, are folks interested
> in working with me to build it?
> A bit more:
> I don't know how many people would care to use such a toolset. I do know
> that campaigns like Philip Neustrom's http://i-am-cc.org/ got thousands of
> people to care about using CC licensing for their content. And I suspect
> that many folks who spend hours writing reviews of products would like to
> make sure that their work doesn't disappear with the next dotcom implosion.
> The combination of "local backup + easy re-licensing/re-publishing" could be
> very powerful, IMO.
> My personal motivation: I think this could be a way to break the network
> effect that keeps proprietary efforts to monetize communities in business.
> If we make it easy to migrate and re-license data, then community forks
> become plausible. We've seen this time and again in the world of wikis,
> where free licensing is the norm and migrations are often straightforward
> (MediaWiki->MediaWiki). But how would the community of Yelp or IMDB or
> Instagram users fork -- if we don't give them the tools to make that
> migration possible? Building these tools seems entirely feasible to me: we
> can automate anything a user with a web browser can do.
> Warmly,
> Erik

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