[okd-discuss] RFC: Open Knowledge Definition v0.1
rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Sun Aug 21 10:05:03 BST 2005
Below is a first draft of an open knowledge definition. The intent is to
get down in a simple but clear way what open knowledge means and the
principles that open knowledge licenses should embody. The concept of
openness has already started to spread rapidly beyond its original roots
in software with 'open access' journals, open genetics, open geodata,
open content etc.
However just as with software we can expect (or are already) seeing a
proliferation of licenses and a potential blurring of what is open and
what is not. A good definition will serve to promote compatibility,
guard against dilution and provide a common thread to diverse projects
across a multiplicity of disciplines.
This is a first draft and all comments and corrections will be much
appreciated. If it would be convenient the draft below can be made
available as html.
Open Knowledge Definition
A work is **open** if it is accessible, reproducible and re-usable
without legal, social or technological restriction.
The idea of openness and its specific expression here owe a huge debt to
Free and Open Source software movement. In particular much of the below
draws directly from the Open Source Definition available at:
Definition of Knowledge for the Purposes of this Document
Knowledge is taken to include:
1. Content such as music, films, books
2. Data be it scientific, historical, geographic or otherwise
3. Government and other administrative information
Software is excluded despite its obvious centrality because it is
already adequately addressed by previous work. In fact, it is those
efforts that provide the inspiration and foundation for this document.
Throughout the term work will be used to denote the item or piece of
knowledge which is being transferred.
The term package may also be used to denote a collection of works. Of
course such a package may be considered a work in itself.
A work is open if it distribution complies with the following:
The work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable
reproduction cost, preferably downloading via the Internet without
charge. The work must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.
Comment: This can be summarized as 'social' openness -- not only are
you /allowed/ to get the work but you /can/ get it. 'As a whole'
prevents the limitation of access by indirect means, for example by only
allowing access to a few items of a database at a time.
The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the
work either on its own or as part of a package made from works from many
different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee
for such sale or distribution.
The license must allow for modifications and derivative works and must
allow them to be distributed under the terms of the original software.
Comment: Note that this clause does not prevent the use of 'viral' or
share-alike licenses that require redistribution of modifications under
the same terms as the original.
3. Absence of Technological Restriction
The work must be provided in such a form that there are no technological
obstacles to the performance of the above activities. This can be
achieved by the provision of the work in an open data format, i.e. one
which places no restrictions monetary or otherwise upon its users. [[ed:
think this is too cumbersome + getting in to definition of open format]]
The license may require as a condition for redistribution and re-use the
attribution of the contributors and creators to the work. If this
condition is imposed it must not be onerous, for example a list of those
requiring attribution should accompany the work.
The license may require as a condition for the work being distributed in
modified form that the resulting work carry a different name or version
number from the original work.
6. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.
7. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the work in a
specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the work
from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.
8. Distribution of License
The rights attached to the work must apply to all to whom the program is
redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by
9. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product
The rights attached to the work must not depend on the work being part
of a particular package. If the work is extracted from that package and
used or distributed within the terms of the work's license, all parties
to whom the work is redistributed should have the same rights as those
that are granted in conjunction with the original package.
10. License Must Not Restrict the Distribution of Other Works
The license must not place restrictions on other works that are
distributed along with the licensed work. For example, the license must
not insist that all other works distributed on the same medium are open.
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