[Open-Legislation] Public domain US legal data and code

Eric Mill eric at sunlightfoundation.com
Mon Oct 8 17:44:45 UTC 2012

Yeah - I think putting the data itself under CC0 (and letting unlicense
just cover the code) is probably the way to go here.

On Mon, Oct 8, 2012 at 1:23 PM, Timothy Vollmer <tvol at creativecommons.org>wrote:

> On Fri, Oct 5, 2012 at 7:57 AM, Eric Mill <eric at sunlightfoundation.com>wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I've been working for the last month or two with Josh Tauberer (of
>> GovTrack.us <http://govtrack.us>) and Derek Willis on a project to
>> produce a public domain scraper and dataset from THOMAS.gov<http://thomas.gov>,
>> the official source for legislative information for the US Congress.
>> It's a reasonably well documented set of Python scripts, which you can
>> find here:
>> https://github.com/unitedstates/congress
>> We just hit a great milestone - it gets everything important that THOMAS
>> has on bills, back to the year THOMAS starts (1973). We've published and
>> documented <https://github.com/unitedstates/congress/wiki> all of this
>> data in bulk, and I've worked it into Sunlight's pipeline, so that searches
>> for bills in Scout<https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/search/federal_bills/freedom%20of%20information>use data collected directly from this effort.
>> The data and code are all hosted on Github on a "unitedstates<https://github.com/unitedstates/>"
>> organization, which is right now co-owned by me, Josh, and Derek - the
>> intent is to have this all exist in a common space. To the extent that the
>> code needs a license at all, I'm using a public domain "unlicense<https://github.com/unitedstates/congress/blob/master/LICENSE>"
>> that should at least be sufficient for the US (other suggestions welcome).
> re: other suggestions
> We've talked with some U.S. federal agencies about potentially using a
> tool like the CC0 Public Domain Dedication [1] to indicate that the
> content/data they release is in the public domain. However, CC0 is meant to
> be a worldwide waiver of all copyright and related rights. Section 105
> prohibits the attachment of copyright under U.S. law, but doesn’t preclude
> a U.S. government work from being protected by copyright under the laws of
> other jurisdictions. [2] So, the work may only be in the public domain as a
> practical matter within the United States; thus U.S. federal agencies have
> been reluctant to adopt CC0 for content/data created under 105.
> [1] http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
> [2]
> http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:H.R._Rep._No._94-1476_(1976)_Page_059.djvu
>> There's other great stuff in this organization, too - Josh made an
>> amazing donation of his legislator dataset<https://github.com/unitedstates/congress-legislators>,
>> and converted it to YAML for easy reuse. I've worked that dataset into
>> Sunlight's products already as well. I've also moved my legal citation
>> extractor <https://github.com/unitedstates/citation> into this
>> organization -- and my colleague Thom Neale has an in-progress parser
>> for the US Code <https://github.com/unitedstates/uscode>, to convert it
>> from binary typesetting codes into JSON.
>> Github's organization structure actually makes possible a very neat
>> commons. I'm hoping this model proves useful, both for us and for the
>> public.
>> -- Eric
>> --
>> Developer | sunlightfoundation.com
>> _______________________________________________
>> open-legislation mailing list
>> open-legislation at lists.okfn.org
>> http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-legislation
> --
> Timothy Vollmer
> http://creativecommons.org/about/people/#timothyvollmer
> phone = +016086982403 | skype = timothyvollmer | tw = @tvol

Developer | sunlightfoundation.com
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