[okd-discuss] Re: RFC: Open Knowledge Definition v0.1

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Thu Oct 6 11:20:57 UTC 2005

Dear Peter,

Apologies for the delayed reply but I have been working on v0.2 which I 
hope to get out soon and which incorporates many of your comments. Below 
are my responses to your last mail.



Peter Suber wrote:
> Dear Rufus,
>      Yes, please feel free to distribute this to the discussion list.  
> Here are few quick replies.  I cluster them here at the top, since it 
> starts to get hard to follow long emails with many levels of quotation.

>      1.  I think Open Knowledge (OK) should be free of charge.  I can 
> see that the current definition deliberately leaves option of charging 
> for it, but I still don't see why.  Open Access (OA) is free online 
> access to the basic full-text version of the content, but it's 
> compatible with charging for access to an enhanced edition of the same 
> content.  One example of charging for OK that you mention below is 
> charging for the "provision of a warranty regarding accuracy".  This 
> could be handled the way OA handles enhanced content:  the basic 
> knowledge ought to be free online, but if someone wants an edition 
> that's more expensive to produce (such as one protected by warranty), 
> then it's fine to charge for that.

In that case I think we are both in agreement with only fine details of 
wording getting in the way. In this area I am simply porting the open 
source definition approach.

>      2.  Open Access (OA) does not encourage or require dissemination of 
> content that authors would rather keep to themselves.  It only applies 
> to content that authors choose to disseminate.  OA is based on author 
> consent.

I did not mean to suggest otherwise but I can see how my point gave rise 
to this interpretation and I think I will erase it any future text.

>      3.  You quote (in your Section 2 below) the OA definition from the 
> Bethesda statement (repeated in the Berlin statement) and call it the 
> BBB definition.  It's not.  The Bethesda statement is one of the three 
> that make up the BBB definition, but the BBB definition consists of the 
> common ground of the three, not their idiosyncratic features.  The 
> points on which you criticize the Bethesda statement are also points on 
> which I criticize it; moreover, the OA movement has left those points 
> behind in favor of the BBB common ground.  They're history.

I apologize for this misinterpretation and I am also glad you agree (and 
have no doubt have already made) these criticisms of the BBB. Would you 
be able to point me to an authoratitive place for an OA definition so 
that I can correct my summary.

>      4.  You say, "[T]he aim of the OKD is a very narrow one and is 
> focused on cementing the existing consensus on what is and is not an 
> **open license** across **diverse** fields (data, content, civic 
> information etc). It builds on ideas from Open Access (and many other 
> areas) but Open Access is about far, far more."  But this statement 
> doesn't differentiate OK from OA.  OA also applies to data, content, 
> civic information, etc.  OA is a kind of access, not a kind of content.  
> It's compatible with every kind of digital content.

I was not intending to suggest that OA did not also apply to these 
fields. The first sentence was simply stating the aim of the OKF the 
second was suggesting how it differed from OA. It may be my error but I 
have often received the impression that OA includes commitment to 
archiving etc as well as simply licensing the work. This is what I meant 
by far, far more. This is borne out in your overview 
(http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm) where only a small 
part of the summary deals with the actual licensing terms.

>      5.  You say below that the Budapest statement is less specific than 
> the Bethesda or Berlin statements.  I'd like to correct this, just for 
> historical interest.  I know it's not relevant to the conversation about 
> OK.  Here's the key section of the Budapest statement:   "There are many 
> degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By 
> "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the 
> public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, 
> distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, 
> crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for 
> any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical 
> barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the 
> internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, 
> and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give 
> authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be 
> properly acknowledged and cited."

I shall add this in to my summary of OA. I note in passing that 
integrity issues have been a big sticking point in creative commons 
license drafting and certainly place a significant burden on the user 
(do i once again have to seek permission for each re-use to check I am 
not doing something that isn't allowed).

>      6.  Bottom line, I'm not persuaded that OK needs to be different 
> from OA except by adding modifiability.  The common ground of the three 
> BBB definitions, for example, as I summarize it in my OA Overview 
> <http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm>, is not confusing and 
> not different from what you seem to have in mind for OK --except that 
> you want to permit charging for access to OK content and you want to 
> permit modifiability.  As I've said, I don't see the need to charge for 
> access except for optional enhancements to the basic content.  
> Modifiability is a significant difference, which is why I suggested a 
> basic approach of OA plus modifiability.
>      I'm worried about open-source people call forking.  OA has been 
> evolving since well before the internet 
> <http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/timeline.htm> and has significant 
> momentum and mindshare.  I think it would be a lost opportunity to fork 
> away from it rather than to build on it.  I'm encouraged by your 
> response that you'll try to incorporate my comment into the next draft.  
> I look forward to it.

I too understand your concern about forking. However in my view OKD 
isn't an attempt to fork just as the open source definition wasn't an 
attempt to fork -- it was an attempt to summarize and bring some 
coherence to an area already prolific in licenses. For example we 
already have:

Open Access:
   * Definition of what would be an OA contribution/license
   * No licenses (?)
   * currently focused on academia with emphasis on access (for example

Creative Commons:
   * Several licenses some of which count as 'open' under OKD or OA 
   * Focus seems to more heavily on cultural content though this may be 
changing with science commons
   * Little discuss

   * GFDL (used e.g. by wikipedia and heavily for software documentation)

Creative Archive Licence Group
   * new UK only licence for access to content from BBC and other archives
   * incompatible with CC

It is also noticeable that different groups emphasize different aspects. 
Thus Open Access focuses on access rather than re-use while Creative 
Commons tends to emphasize re-use (remix culture) at least as much, and 
perhaps more, than straightforward access. For software I think it has 
always been the case that re-use is the most important aspect of what it 
means for it to be Free Software or Open Source software.

Thus saying OA + modifiability concerns me both because:

   1. OA in many people minds connotes far more than a definition of 
license and has strong identification with academic research
   2. It makes modifiability seem to be an add-on to access

At the same time I agree that there seems much common ground. The next 
draft of the OKD will therefore certainly include a strong indication of 
this correspondence as well as your suggestion of equating it to 
OA+modifiability. As you say, it is far better to build upon the huge 
basis that OA has -- and that Creative Commons etc have -- rather than 
go sideways, and that is certainly my intent.



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