[okfn-discuss] New project - Open Data licence

peter murray-rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Sun Sep 2 07:32:46 UTC 2007

At 07:35 30/08/2007, Jordan Hatcher's lists wrote:
>One of my newer projects is to lead the update to the Talis Community
>Licence, which is an open data licence that is listed as being
>compliant with the OKFN.  This email is just to notify the list and
>ask for anyone who wants to contact me about the update to feel free
>to do so and to solicit any comments you might have at this time.
>I'll post a draft of the update whenever it is ready.

Thanks Jordan, this is good news and I am pleased to see the 
initiative. As you know I have been involved in setting of the WP 
page on Open Data and also the SPARC mailing list. These are 
essentially placeholders for the community to (a) report on and (b) 
discuss aspects of formalising Open Data.

>The idea for the licence update is:
>-- expand it beyond the EU Database Right to cover Database copyright
>as well
>-- make it compliant with existing law by scaling back the scope of
>the rights it covers
>-- try to make it as universal/worldwide in scope as possible
>-- keep it OKFN compliant
>The licence itself doesn't do too much in terms of restrictions
>except for a Share Alike requirement.  It has been suggested to me
>that SA would be particularly bad for the sciences and data
>integration projects.  I very much would like to hear your thoughts
>on what you'd like to see with the licence.

It is probably going to be very hard work to get something 
"absolutely right" for the sciences. "data" can overlap with 
materials, with "text" and with "code". Simplistically I have taken 
the view that "data are not copyrightable" and this phrase was also 
used by Elsevier in a reply to me about re-using their data (although 
I strongly suspect that other officers in Elsevier will change that 
simple view).

I can suggest the following axioms:
* there is a very large class of scientific data for which the 
creators wish to claim no royalty, no reach-through restrictions and 
no explicit permissions. This is what I am most concerned with 
personally. The authors simply wish re-use, attribution and 
non-corruption. There are, however, cases where authors welcome 
community enhancement of the data.
* the current position, relying on "non-copyright" and "BBB OA", 
though logically supportable is not workable. There are too many 
variations of opinion and logic. We therefore need *something* that 
authors can add to their data which must be transmissible to 
derivative works if required.

I suggest that for the immediate future it would be valuable to have 
something *very* simple - i.e. at least as simple as BSD - which asserts:

"we authors state that this is Open Data and freely re-usable for 
whatever purpose. It may not be constrained by third-party copyright 
or other restrictions." In practice we have simply labelled our 
CrystalEye as "OpenData" using the OKFN logo with a hyperlink.

If you wish to work out a consistent scientific licence you are 
probably going to have to talk to at least CODATA and Science Commons 
and this inevitably won't be short. I suggest that in the interim we 
create a simple placeholder "Open Data" with a 1-line statement of 
intent, and links to the OKFN site.


Talis Community Licence
>J S Hatcher
>okfn-discuss mailing list
>okfn-discuss at lists.okfn.org

Peter Murray-Rust
Unilever Centre for Molecular Sciences Informatics
University of Cambridge,
Lensfield Road,  Cambridge CB2 1EW, UK

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