[okfn-discuss] Licenses for a wiki containing data from copyrighted scientific articles.

Finn Aarup Nielsen fn at imm.dtu.dk
Thu Feb 26 18:05:20 UTC 2009

I have recently started a wiki with scientific data and text in 
neuroscience: Brede Wiki, http://neuro.imm.dtu.dk/wiki/

I started with triple licenses of the share-alike type: GPL, GFDL and 
CC-by-sa: http://neuro.imm.dtu.dk/wiki/Brede:Copyrights

After browsing the Open Knowledge web-site and following links 
to licenses it seems to me that the situation is more complex.

I manually extract data from scientific articles (more precisely results 
from statistical analyses in neuroimaging experiments) and encode them in 
MediaWiki templates so my Brede Wiki now contains content like "{{Brain 
volume | n = 1 | region = Left hippocampus | mean = 0.940 | std = 0.208 | 
unit = cm3 | group = Major depression patients }}", see the wiki page:


Such data would typically be found in tables of the scientific paper. Some 
of the papers are CC-by, but most are copyrighted by commercial 

I have thought that such data would be "facts" or "measurement" on nature, 
not be subjected to copyright, but that I and other wiki-contributors 
would be able to gain Database Rights when they become aggregated with 
other results. I have seen the "Open Database License" which seems 
appropriate for distributing the database. However, it is not clear to me 
whether "left hippocampus 0.940" constitutes a copyrightable entity (a 
creative work?) belonging to the publisher or it can be considered a fact 
falling in under "Open Data Commons - Factual info licence". The worst 
case would be that publishers regard this data as under their copyright 
and regard its presentation on the web-site and its copylefted 
distribution as a violation.

Any thought on this? I have just seen that there is some discussion in the 


          Finn Aarup Nielsen, DTU Informatics, Denmark
  Lundbeck Foundation Center for Integrated Molecular Brain Imaging
    http://www.imm.dtu.dk/~fn/      http://nru.dk/staff/fnielsen/

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