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

Peter Suber peters at earlham.edu
Sat Oct 8 15:47:50 UTC 2005

Dear Rufus,
      Thanks for your detailed reply.  More below.

At 07:20 AM 10/6/2005, Rufus Pollock wrote:

>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.

Unfortunately there isn't a more authoritative place than the three 
separate public statements themselves.  However, I've tried to draw out 
their common elements and restate them more simply in my OA Overview 
<http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm>, which I know you've seen.

>>      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.

It's true that the OA definitions don't concern themselves much with the 
details of licensing.  Instead they lay down principles of access to which 
OA licenses should conform.  I think we've focused more on the principles 
than the licensing details because we agree that many licenses are 
compatible with the principles and that OA-committed users are free to use 
any of the compatible licenses.

I think this confirms what you said:  that OKD can build on OA and and 
other initiatives for open content.

>>      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).

Yes, I can see that the "integrity" constraint might be an impediment for 
some users.  The basic idea is that OA authors don't have to consent to 
copies that mangle their assertions, e.g. by adding or subtracting the word 
"not".  This reflects the fact that many scientists and scholars have 
reason to resist the kind of free user-modification that is desirable and 
essential elsewhere, e.g. in open-source software.  The best example is 
that when a scientist reports the results of an experiment, users should be 
allowed to quote and cite the report, and disagree with it ad lib, but not 
to alter the report itself.

>>      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.

Good.  This is what I was hoping.

>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 definition
>   * 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

What you say about OA here is true.  But I wasn't suggesting that OKD adopt 
the OA orientation in all respects, only that OKD adopt the OA approach to 
*access*.  For example, this would mean never charging a fee for access to 
the basic full-text, even if one charges for access to an enhanced edition.

If my original formulation ("OA plus modifiability") implied that I meant 
more than the OA approach to access, then I apologize for causing 
confusion.  I only meant the OA approach to access.

>   2. It makes modifiability seem to be an add-on to access

I don't understand the objection.  It is an add-on in the sense that it's 
an independent variable.  We don't have to say that access is somehow prior 
to modifiability or vice versa.  But they are separate parameters that 
aren't always combined.

>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.

      Thanks, Rufus.  I feel the same way.


Peter Suber
Open Access Project Director, Public Knowledge
Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College
Author, SPARC Open Access Newsletter
Editor, Open Access News blog
peter.suber at earlham.edu

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