To create a voluntary copyright registry to which any digital artifact could be added for purposes of:
A website living at an appropriate domain name (redacted to protect from squatters). Users registering an account must provide:
Email address would be verified immidiately in the usual way. Telephone and mailing information could be added to a queue for human intervention later.
Only real name and email address would be publicized, unless the user specified otherwise.
Users would then upload digital artifacts, which would be stored, along with CRC32, MD5, SHA1, and SHA256 hashes.
Metadata (title, description) should optionally be provided, for ease of searching.
Permalink (domain.tld/artifact/SHA256, likely) should be provided for copyright holders to reference their claim.
Why would any copyright holder voluntarily register their artifact?
The Registry serves as a public resource. It does not serve to be a legal resource. Upon uploading an artifact, the copyright holder agrees that in the event of a third party claiming they have wrongfully registered work that is not their own, the third party may be provided with some small samples of the artifact in question for use in asertaining if infringement has taken place. The nature of these samples will be in keeping with the nature of the work in question.
If a third party, upon reviewing any such samples, believes their rights have been infringed, the artifact in question will be marked as "disputed" until such time as the two parties asserting ownership have settled their dispute in court. The Registry will not take part in such court proceedings or aid either side directly.
Should a copyright holder wish to have a shorter term of copyright applied to their artifact, they may specify the conditions of release when they upload the artifact. Should such conditions be met (for example, a certain number of years pass, or a death certificate for the copyright holder is presented) the work will then be released under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution license, ported to their nation of citizenship.
At such point as an artifact enters the Public Domain, either according to the laws of the country the copyright holders holds citizenship in, or because a modified copyright term caused the artifact to be released under a Creative Commons Attribution license, the artifact will be marked with the attribution symbol and a note about it's current status will be added to the description page. The artifact will be made available for download and submitted to the Internet Archive.
Should the artifact be accepted into the Internet Archive all download links may be pointed there and the local copy may be discarded.
The hashes and metadata will be kept by the Registry indefinitely.
Eventually, a lot of storage space would be required. It is hoped that by such time, sponsorship could be had from the community or one or more non-profits such as Creative Commons or the Internet Archive.
Hosting on shared hosting such as Dreamhost may be problematic because of security considerations.
Since most content would not be made for public download, perhaps it could live on the servers temporarily and be transferred to some other storage periodically.
https://www.registeredcommons.org/about implements many of these ideas in a working service. One thing they lack: permanent storage of artifacts. In fact, not only do they not guarantee permanent storage of the artifacts, it seems they only guarantee the metadata for 7-35 years: this is hardly enough given that the average copyright lasts 130+ years.
They have modified their FAQ in response to this document and my inquiries. http://www.registeredcommons.org/faq#f19
It seems that they, for legal reasons, only guarentee 7 years, but that they may store things longer.
They also seem basically to patently not care about being a copyright registry, and are far more interested in the poor man's copyright.
Here is their (not entirely comprehensible) reply to my inquiries:
Hi Stephen Paul,
Thank you for the feedback. Our answer has been put into a new FAQ: http://www.registeredcommons.org/faq#f19
Honestly: which organisation will be alive in 130 years from now? A nation, a bank, a company, the patent office? We are running Registered Commons as a co-operative in a public-private partnership, which is a very stable organisational construction, and are extending our partnership with a patent office. But it would be presumptuos for any service provider to guarantee its operation 130 years from now.
Your process reminds me to the drafting of our ideas within the "www.media.coop" project three years ago - together with members from the Austrian and European CC community. It took us many months to specify the service portfolio and a few weeks to program it. Finally we brought it online in Berlin together with Lawrence Lessig at the WOS4 conference.
In principle I like your idea of waiving rights (e.g. after a given number of years), but it might not be possible in many jurisdictions. In fact we are working on a feature, allowing double licensing a work anytime.
Meanwhile we are involved in a process standardising registries interoperability http://oscri.org . A next step would be to offer an OpenID service as already provided at CreativeCommons.net.