[geo-discuss] [Geodata] Re: Geodata in CKAN and collaboration (was Re: Responding to the consultation on opening Ordnance Survey's data)

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Tue Feb 9 16:32:54 UTC 2010

Puneet Kishor wrote:

> Lots of people are looking for ways to clearly mark their data. Trust
> me on that one, lots of people. The world of scientific data is not
> entirely made up of geographic data, and certainly not of Open Street
> Map

You say "not entirely". Where OSM is concerned, I'd say "not at all".

OSM data is principally used in the commercial environment and in  
volunteer / enthusiast projects. There is, to the best of my  
knowledge, no significant use or origination of OSM data in the  
scientific environment. It isn't intended as scientific data and isn't  
used as such.

This makes a difference because, as I wrote two years ago at  

> In the science world, for which this [Science Commons] protocol is  
> intended, citation is an everyday part of life. Learned articles  
> will always cite those whose work they are building on, and will be  
> disregarded by peers if they don't. When Science Commons speak of a  
> "non-legally binding set of citation norms", they can do so in the  
> expectation that these norms will be respected. SC's John Wilbanks  
> says as much in this interesting post: "It seemed we had to think  
> about taking all these social goals and moving them outside the  
> legal world, and into the world that scientists controlled - norms."
> That isn't necessarily the case with geographical data. If a big  
> mapping company like TeleAtlas or Navteq were to use OSM contributors'
> work in their data, there's no commercial imperative for them to credit
> us - let alone to make the rest of their data available on our  
> terms. Our work will be used outside the world that we control.

So CC may not like the ODbL approach. Indeed, John later wrote at  

> But when you call the license written by and for a streetmapping  
> community a solution for the rest of the world when the DBs and  
> norms involved vary so much...well, it's odd to then get mad when  
> the rest of the world comes in and comments on it

Which is a fair point, but it cuts both ways. If CC is only interested  
in catering for the scientific data community, that's fine; but by the  
same reasoning, it should make it explicit that it does not provide,  
let alone recommend, any particular licence or disclaimer for data  
outside the scientific community.

To get back to the original argument, my personal view is that neither  
CC, nor OKFN, nor FSF or whoever should offer NC options with any of  
their licenses. Discriminating against a field of endeavour isn't  
"open", you might as well have a "no-copying" licence. But that's not  
the same as saying CC0 should be the only game in town for factual data.


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