[odc-discuss] Open licensing for reference data

MJ Ray mjr at phonecoop.coop
Tue Nov 9 02:19:09 UTC 2010

George Moody wrote: [...]
> I'm curious to know if there is an interest in an ODC-BY or ODbL variant that
> omits the "free to adapt" provision.  Such a license would permit data to be
> redistributed freely in unmodified form, but not in modified form unless it is
> clear that modifications have been made.
> Some of our freely available data sets have been in use for 20 to 30 years, and
> there is a large literature of published analyses of them that makes them
> particularly valuable.  It's critically important, though, that any researcher
> who uses them should know that he or she has a complete and unaltered copy of
> the data that were used in previous studies, and not a version that has been
> modified, augmented, or abridged.  Otherwise, their analyses are not comparable
> and others may not be able to reproduce them. [...]

It would remove a key part of openness to deny the freedom to adapt,
so I feel that any such licence would not be an open data licence.

In other situations I've seen, if free and open source software has
been modified, augmented, or abridged, then that must be disclosed to
obey clauses like 5a of GPL-3.  That seems to be missing from ODC-BY
and ODbL which might be intentional or an oversight.

But if it's critically important that people should be able to
identify the original database with confidence, then I feel you should
really be using some form of authentication or signature of the
database.  That gives users an ability to check, while trying to use
copyright law to deter changes still allows bad people to distribute
bad data and cause trouble, without helping the users.

Could you sign the data?

MJ Ray (slef), member of www.software.coop, a for-more-than-profit co-op.
Webmaster, Debian Developer, Past Koha RM, statistician, former lecturer.
In My Opinion Only: see http://mjr.towers.org.uk/email.html
Available for hire for various work http://www.software.coop/products/

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