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Audio Commons: An Ecosystem for Creative Reuse of Audio Content

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Novel tools to make freely distributed audio content reusable in the creative industries

The way multimedia content is created, shared, used and reused has changed, producing significant amounts of user-generated multimedia resources mostly shared under open licences. Needing to reduce production costs to remain competitive, there’s an opportunity for the creative industries to incorporate such content in their productions, but they lack the technology to do so.

Digital Economy

A huge amount of audio material like sound effects, field recordings, musical samples and music pieces is uploaded by amateurs and professionals alike to online repositories and made available under Creative Commons (CC) licences. “We refer to this content as the audio commons,” says Dr Frederic Font, coordinator of the EU-funded AudioCommons project. “However, there are no practical ways in which audio commons can be embedded in the production workflows of content users in the creative industries, and licensing issues aren’t easily handled across the production chain.” As a result, most of this content remains unused by industries like video game, film and music. Technology to support a sustainable and growing ecosystem AudioCommons set out to bring CC licensed audio content to the creative industries, enabling its creation, access, retrieval and reuse in innovative ways. It promoted the use of open audio content and developed technologies to support the so-called AudioCommons ecosystem (ACE) comprised of content repositories, production tools and users. These technologies enable the reuse of such audio material. The project team developed about 20 tools, services and prototypes for creators, developers and researchers. The most relevant are AudioTexture Free and the music and sound search tool (MuSST). AudioTexture Free is the free version of AudioTexture, an audio plug-in that loads content from the online repository Freesound, and then generates infinite variations of sounds and loops. Another product that also incorporates audio commons content called SampleSurfer will soon be available from industry partner Waves Audio Ltd., an Israeli developer and supplier of professional digital audio signal processing technologies and audio effects. MuSST is an online search engine for easily searching and filtering the content of several AudioCommons providers. It also provides links for downloading and licensing the content, when available. Project partners developed tools to automatically analyse audio content. Most importantly, the timbral models are capable of characterising perceptual qualities of sound that were never developed before. They also developed a tool referred to as the AudioCommons mediator that integrates some existing content repositories and a common data model for audio content called AudioCommons ontology. Both facilitate the interconnection of stakeholders in the ACE. Seamlessly incorporating CC audio content in production workflows AudioCommons promotes a model for content creation based on the reuse of CC content. “CC licences support the idea of an open shared culture and a read/write culture,” explains Dr Font. “This provides an alternative to working with content with traditional copyright limitations, an alternative that we think is better suited for today’s digital economy.” The developed tools “increase the value of CC audio content by giving it more visibility, making it more accessible and facilitating its integration in multimedia production workflows.” “AudioCommons has raised awareness of CC in the audio domain, and has brought CC audio content closer to the creative industries, practitioners and the general public,” concludes Dr Font. Audio producers, musicians and content creators can use the tools and prototypes to integrate CC content into their creative workflows. In addition, tool developers can conceptualise new products and ideas arising from the incorporation of CC content.


AudioCommons, audio, CC, audio content, creative industries, music, production workflows, audio commons, Creative Commons

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