[Open-access] NISO Recommendations on Open Access Metadata

Cameron Neylon cn at cameronneylon.net
Tue Jan 7 10:22:43 UTC 2014

>> The first was that any such element could easily be inconsistent with the actual license. So if the license_ref link is to CC BY but someone encodes non-derivative in metadata which do you believe? And inconsistency is already a problem as Daniel repeatedly tweaks us about (with good cause!). So avoiding the risk of adding to that is important.
> I acknowledge this point. However ...
> Without this, the specification is essentially useless. It's not
> machine-readable metadata in any but the thinnest, most legalistic
> sense. The specification boils down to "here's a URL to a licence
> text, get your lawyer to download it and look it over". I can't do
> anything with that.

No I disagree. I accept its less useful for non-standard and proprietary licenses but having gone over this I don't think it is either legally, or possibly even theoretically, possible to build a general machine readable standard for rights - and the core problem is that those non-standard licences are just less useful anyway, because they're non-standard. In practice the way to do this, as you say is for a single organisation to create a widely used standard that everyone understands. CC have done that - the URL to a CC license is as good as machine readable. And to the extent it isn't then there's CC-REL.

> Yes. A huge job that will either never happen, or be ready to use in
> ten years, by which point this specification will have been left in
> the dust by whatever pragmatic solutions wins out when the standard
> turns out not to meet the actual need.

And that specification will be CC licenses. For which the recommendation will support better standardised transmission and the adoption by Crossref means we've got a centralised place for collecting those license statements. The place to standardise is the licenses themselves, not the transmission mechanism. I'm more or less convinced that nothing else can work - but am happy to hear arguments to the contrary.

> Really? "Not a step back" is the level of our aspirations now?

When the risk was allowing certain parties to say "But NISO says that 'free-to-read' means Open Access so how can you argue with that?". Yep, and avoiding that alone was worth the six months that I sunk into it. That we got agreement from a diverse set of stakeholders that they should a) put their licenses at a defined place on the web and b) provide the URL to those terms with core metadata was a bonus. That we've separated metadata elements on reading rights from re-use rights is also good.

You have to defend the flanks as well as lead the advance. 



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