[okfn-be] okfn-be Digest, Vol 3, Issue 7

Patrick Hochstenbach Patrick.Hochstenbach at UGent.be
Sat Dec 10 13:28:40 UTC 2011


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 subtle.

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 share-alike”


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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