[okfn-discuss] Licenses and Waivers

Mr. Puneet Kishor punkish at eidesis.org
Wed Sep 15 14:30:50 UTC 2010

On Sep 15, 2010, at 4:02 PM, Keith Alexander wrote:

> Hi,
> I want to update the documentation for voiD[1] (an RDF vocabulary for
> describing datasets) to include discussion of waivers and the Waiver
> Vocabulary[2].
> Currently, the voiD guide recommends using dcterms:license[3] to point
> to the license of a dataset. The waiver vocabulary introduces
> wv:waiver to point toa document waiving rights over a dataset.
> .
> Two things worry me:
> * It's not always obvious whether to use dcterms:license or wv:waiver.
> eg: PDDL is a license, and declares a waiving of rights?
> * to work out the terms of use of a dataset, you have to look at the
> values(s) of both dcterms:license and wv:waiver.
> Would it be wrong to use dcterms:license to point to a waiver?
> Could wv:waiver be regarded as a more special kind of dcterms:license
> or is it a different thing?

IANAL, but from what I understand, a license is not a contract, and a license is not a waiver [1-4].

Creative Commons specifically terms CC0 as a waiver of license, while its traditional CC licenses are, well, licenses. 

It is common but inaccurate assumption to think of licenses the same as contracts.

Copyright is a license, and is governed by federal laws in the US. A contract requires at least two parties to agree to certain terms and conditions, and is governed by state laws in the US.

According to my law dictionary, a license is a unilateral permission granted by a property owner to do certain things with the licensed property.

A waiver is the absence of a license.

I wish this confusion were resolved, and the popular usage and the bookish definitions would come into conformance.

[1] http://emoglen.law.columbia.edu/my_pubs/lu-12.html
[2] http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20031214210634851
[3] http://lwn.net/Articles/61292/
[4] http://punkish.org/Licensing-Geographic-Data

> Thanks
> Keith
> [1] http://rdfs.org/ns/void/guide
> [2] http://vocab.org/waiver/terms/
> [3] http://purl.org/dc/terms/license
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Puneet Kishor http://punkish.org
Carbon Model http://carbonmodel.org
Charter Member, Open Source Geospatial Foundation http://www.osgeo.org
Science Commons Fellow, http://sciencecommons.org/about/whoweare/kishor
Nelson Institute, UW-Madison http://www.nelson.wisc.edu
Assertions are politics; backing up assertions with evidence is science

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