The video commons encompasses all videos that can be freely used. This means these videos are either devoid of copyright restrictions (in the public domain) or are licensed under an open license such as one of the Creative Commons licenses. Platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, the Internet Archive and many more have openly licensed videos available. In total we believe there are around 19 million videos in the video commons.


There is no comprehensive map of the video commons; we don’t know how many of these videos are duplicates published on multiple platforms. We also don’t know if videos are substantially shared and reused across the Internet. With Videorooter we map the video commons to provide insight in this media field. In 2016  we published an index of around 70.000 freely reusable videos that we could find.


Videorooter fingerprints the files in the index we create of the video commons. We do this by algorithmically assigning a code (hash) to each video. This way we can publish a whitelist of openly licensed videos. Based on the whitelist, you can retrieve provenance information about any video in the video commons.

Videorooter initially stored fingerprints of about 70,000 openly licensed videos from  platforms like Archive.orgEuropeana, Wikimedia Commons and Open Images. The hashes are stored together with other metadata such as title, maker and license on our whitelist.


Videorooter is a small contribution to a stronger and more open Internet in several ways. Most importantly by finding means to protect the maker of openly licensed videos. Second, the technology is made available for others to use. To make it easier for third parties to use and implement our technology, the algorithms are translated in open standards for video fingerprinting. We hope to create an Internet on which makers dare to share and enrich one another’s work.


Videorooter is an initiative of the Dutch Kennisland and the Swedish Commons Machinery. Kennisland is a think tank that among other things works on strengthening the digital commons. Its work in the heritage sector has made clear that ownership on the Internet is a complex issue, for which thus far no good solution has been offered. We find it particularly important to provide a solution for makers who release their work under an open license. They deserve proper attribution when their work is shared or reused.

Commons Machinery is a research and development company working on developing technology to power the Commons. Commons Machinery has previously developed similar technologies for image fingerprinting in their project and practically shown how important it is for a healthy Commons to recognise the origin and license of digital works as they traverse the vast space of the Internet. Videorooter builds on a body of knowledge and experiences from the past.



The Videorooters are:

Jonas Oberg, founder and CEO, and software architect at Commons Machinery,

Maarten Zeinstra, advisor copyright & technology at Kennisland,
Photo by Giorgos Gripeos (CC BY)

Tessa Askamp, concept developer technology and society at Kennisland,
Photo by Marcel Oosterwijk, Kennisland (CC BY)


Videorooter is made possible with the support of the Dutch SIDN fund and the Creative Commons Awesome Fund.