[okfn-be] okfn-be Digest, Vol 3, Issue 10

Miel Vander Sande miel.vandersande at ugent.be
Mon Dec 12 08:42:26 UTC 2011

In case of open source you can discuss the definition of free. What is free
and how far does it go? If we look at the 4 domains of freedom(study, use,
modify, distribute), it doesn't really say anything about retrieving the
data. Furthermore, it does not go into detail about how to use or read this
data, so the required open format stays vague. Also, the freedom of use is
there, but the freedom of commercialisation is not. Many licenses restrict
the freedom of use, but are still (called) open source. So the discussion
should also be about restrictions. Which restricted areas endanger the
openness of my source or data.

What open data is concerned, one star data is already open data, where open
licensed formats are not required. Your data also just has to be available,
but how? When I look at the definition of OKFN, they are the only ones
putting restrictions on the restrictions:
"A piece of content or data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and 
redistribute it - subject only,**at most, to the requirement to attribute 
and share-alike**"

Kind regards,

Miel Vander Sande
Semantic Web - Linked Open Data 
Researcher MultimediaLab [Ghent University - IBBT]

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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: okfn-be Digest, Vol 3, Issue 7 (Patrick Hochstenbach)


Message: 1
Date: Sat, 10 Dec 2011 14:28:40 +0100
From: Patrick Hochstenbach <Patrick.Hochstenbach at UGent.be>
Subject: Re: [okfn-be] okfn-be Digest, Vol 3, Issue 7
To: "okfn-be at lists.okfn.org" <okfn-be at lists.okfn.org>
	<7B9FEB8B52C43840BDAB17615945D3D801BD05AB at XMAIL02.UGent.be>
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Non-exclusive licenses for use, reuse and redistribution is one thing. But
there are also discussions on the format of the data. Does that matter for
the 'openess' of data? E.g. I post all my documents in the proprietary CAD
online. You need to buy the software to use and even reuse it. Is this open
data? In my opinion yes, but not grade-A open.

Also I see discussions on the mode of access. We had a discussion in the
DRIVER community where European libraries provide open access to the
metadata and full-text of research papers online. There are several projects
to create databases out of the metadata, so far so good. But when these
projects started to harvest all the full-text documents the university
repositories started to complain about high system load, decreasing
statistics, etc. In effect some started to block harvesters giving access to
the data. The same question came up by Peter-Murray Rust on the open
bibliography list where databases claim to provide open data, but only
provide at max XYZ number of queries per day. Is this open data? In my
opinion maybe, but not grade-A open. 

[Btw this touches Marc's discussion but I think this is of a different type:
"A provides data only to B when B can provide a service X (statistics) to A"
this looks like a kind of exclusive contract between A and B]

As another example: I see projects in the open source community where
vendors claim to provide open source, but hide or obscure access to it. The
tools are open for use, reuse and redistribution but are in some way hidden
from the world. Is this open source? In my opinion arguably. You miss the
public publishing aspect.

Another discussion can be on hiding or obscuring some parts of the data.
E.g. when I publish datasets where some functionality is deliberately
switched off (encrypted, watermarked, password protected) like a kind of
'shareware' for data. In many cases the data is not immediately human
interpretable (like for plain text). You need an interpreter (software tool)
or the executing environment to provide human access. If the instructions in
the data that has to be interpreted prohibit some use/reuse, is this open
data? Well this depends.

We will find and see hopefully more of these discussions here on the list. I
think we all have a clear idea what 'open' means, but things can be quite

From: okfn-be-bounces at lists.okfn.org [okfn-be-bounces at lists.okfn.org] On
Behalf Of Pieter Colpaert [pieter.colpaert at gmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, December 10, 2011 12:20 PM
To: okfn-be at lists.okfn.org
Subject: Re: [okfn-be] okfn-be Digest, Vol 3, Issue 7

The definition by OKFN uk:

?A piece of content or data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and
redistribute it - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and


On 12/08/2011 05:49 PM, Bart Van Loon wrote:

It was Thu Dec 08 at 02:43PM when Patrick Hochstenbach wrote:

Is there a good definition of what 'open' means in 'open data'? In the
library world we know the 'public domain' which is free of copyright and
there is 'open access' where there is still copyright but you have a quite
non-restrictive license for re-use.

I'm not familiar with definitions of `open' in this context, but I think
it's similar to the `free' in `free software'.

Software is free if the license provides you the following four basic
    * freedom to study
    * freedom to use
    * freedom to modify
    * freedom to distribute

It doesn't mean it's in the public domain, however. It can perfectly well
have a clear owner and stringent IP ownership applied to it. It doesn't make
it less `free' however.

Similarly, open data can perfectly well be owned by someone (as opposed to
being in the public domain), and still be open. As long as I can study, use,
modify and distribute the data, it's open to me.

iRail vzw/asbl


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