[okfn-discuss] License for GroupsNearYou

Philippe Aigrain philippe.aigrain at sopinspace.com
Fri Mar 7 13:50:25 UTC 2008

Le vendredi 7 mars 2008, Jordan Hatcher's lists a écrit :
> On 6 Mar 2008, at 07:10, Philippe Aigrain wrote:
> > For pure data, the term license (in the sense of using a right to
> > restrict
> > usage - IP title for instance - to create a commons) is not adapted.
> I'm assuming you mean factual information when you say "pure data".
> I agree that if there is no underlying property right, then it would
> not be accurate to call this a licence. However, for a database,
> there can very likely be copyright in some aspect of it, and so
> saying "licence" is accurate. This can be true even if it is a
> database of wholly factual information not protected by copyright in
> the particular legal system, as their could be copyright over
> different aspects of the database.
OK, but one should be cautious not to create a spillover of rights from one 
(the copyrighted aspects) on the other (the pure data).

> I don't think that there is a problem with using database rights in
> the EU for open licences -- if you don't address them then people
> don't have permission to use the data/database and so that defeats
> the purpose of having an open licence.  You can address them but
> waive or fully license them, or you can use them as a part of the
> approach for the license to the problem by using them to restrict (BY-
> SA for example) what happens with data apart from the database.
> FYI, database rights and database copyright are not mutually
> exclusive, and it is not merely collections of data that get the
> rights -- there has to be a database.
I understand your point and it is legally sound. Hovever, I am at the same 
time a practitioner (of information commons) and an activist on norm setting, 
I am reluctant to use schemes whose suppression I am advocating (even when 
the usage is for valuable aims). For free software or CC licenses applied to 
media, I do not have such problems as I am not advocating the suppression of 
copyright (just going back to reason on the way in which it is implemented 
and the necessary recognition of use rights).

> See what we did for the Open Data Commons PDDL and accompanying
> Community Norms Statement. This allows for a dedication and backup
> licence so that the work is as close to the public domain as
> (hopefully) possible, and sets out a non-binding set of terms for its
> use.
> http://opendatacommons.org
In terms of aim, I fully agree with Open Data Commons, including on community 
norms. Just that I think it is not optimal or even sometimes not possible to 
use a license mechanism (see below).

> How is this:
> -- not a licence if database rights or copyright is involved?
This is partly a philosophical issue. Licenses are bilateral agreements. They 
fail to capture the ternary relationship that exist with a commons : I give 
to the commons, you take from them and have possibly duties to the commons. 
See my paper:
Towards a positive recognition of commons-based research and innovation in 
international norms
But of course, until such a recognition is obtained, licenses are needed 
to "simulate" commons ... when they can be applied. And when a commons status 
will be defined, some act (dedication or donation to the commons) must 
replace the act of licensing.

> -- is not at the very least a contract?
If a protected commons status norm exists, a dedication to this status becomes 
possible. "Protected" is for protected against possible reproprietarization 
when the issue arises (f.i. through adding some data or metadata in a way 
that makes the original data alone much less valuable that the combined form 
to be point of being unusable. The status may also make room for attached 
rules (similar to community norms) of acceptable behaviour with data (and 
related governance). But these rules must not open the door to cancelling in 
effect the commons aspect.

> Also, what do you mean by "universal commons"?
This is in constrast to the closed commons of the past (grazing land or 
forests) where access rights were restricted to a member of a particular 
community, but also in contrast to some licenses such as BiOS (Cambia) that 
claim to create a protected commons, but in reality create a private club 
with asymetric rights between the originator and users. 

> The new Science Commons protocol would perhaps be the best starting
> place on their site:
> <http://sciencecommons.org/projects/publishing/open-access-data-
> protocol/>
> <http://sciencecommons.org/resources/faq/database-protocol/>
Indeed this is a very good starting point, though some aspects call for 
further discussion (f.i. around copylefting or not for data, f.i. in the case 
of geographic data).

> Thanks!
The same for your thoughtful comments.
> ~Jordan
> > Best,

More information about the okfn-discuss mailing list