[okfn-discuss] Data put under CC-BY in MashupAustralia competition

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Mon Oct 5 13:07:01 BST 2009

2009/10/1 Mr. Puneet Kishor <punkish at eidesis.org>:
> On Oct 1, 2009, at 8:19 AM, Mr. Puneet Kishor wrote:
>> On Oct 1, 2009, at 7:59 AM, Jonathan Gray wrote:
>>> Would be great to have thoughts and opinions of people here!
>> Give a person a hammer, and all data starts looking like an opportunity to
>> get attribution.
>> For ages now we have been creating knowledge in academia and giving it
>> away, expecting, but not contractually requiring recognition. The norms of

There's also an awful lot of secrecy and data concealment :)

>> our disciplines have ensured that ripping off someone else's work without
>> giving due credit gets censure that is worse than any contractual penalty
>> could ever be. Ask yourself -- what would you rather? loss of face or some
>> penalty that your contract provides for?

I think it depends: there are those, especially outside of academia,
who may not care much about the "loss of face"

>> Let's look at it another way -- if you have CC-BY data, and I take it but
>> don't give you any attribution (because I am just a prick and don't want to
>> give you attribution, and because norms wash off me like water off a duck),
>> what is it exactly that you are going to do to me? Come after me with what?
>> If your data are really worth any money, sure, bind it in a contract and
>> wrap it in a license and track it with a beacon to make sure you get your
>> pound of flesh. But otherwise, it is just pointless.

Right, but by this logic it is not doing any harm either -- and the
contract does at least provide a very clear statement of what the
situation is. Furthermore it is not always impossible to enforce
formally (though I would agree that in most cases it is not a good
option ...)

>> Let's not even get into the issue that contracts apply only between the
>> two parties that agree to the contract. So, if you agree to the contract
>> with the original data provider, and then give the data to me without any
>> contract, heck, I am bound by no contract at all.

Yes, this is a specific contract point -- however, in Australia, and
many other jurisdictions, there are rights in the data which can be
licensed (by the way in common-law jurisdictions CC "licenses" can
arguably be construed as contracts ...)

>> Isn't it just better to let the normative processes of our disciplines,
>> our society and tradition, guide our actions?
> So, if not CC-BY for data then what?

One could obviously use a data-specific license such as the
Attribution-Sharealike Open Database License that Open Data Commons
provide in addition to the PDDL:


However, this obviously includes SA in addition to attribution which
is not what they want. Perhaps it would be worthwhile for Open Data
Commons to produce an attribution license.

> I should have mentioned that I am in the "use ccZero or PDDL waiver for
> public data" camp. Licenses are more appropriate for creative content, and
> contract useful when you actually want something in return *and* can enforce
> a payback if you don't get the return.

I'm not at all clear why data is different from content here, or more
relevantly code (in general -- one could argue for a different
approach in e.g. public science). Attribution and share-alike
licensing seem to be fully accepted within the free/open code and
content domains and I really don't see why the same is not true for
data(bases). I won't go on much about this here as I have written
about this quite a bit before :) e.g.




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