[open-science] Openness and Licensing of (Open) Data

Bill Hooker cwhooker at fastmail.fm
Thu Feb 5 18:49:31 GMT 2009

Am following with interest.  Agree very much with Cam:

> It's an issue of control - if researchers feel they have ownership
> of this protocol/standard then there will be fewer barriers to 
> adoption. If there is a perception that the protocol is "owned" 
> by lawyers, which is what I believe will happen if it is called 
> a license, then there will be very strong resistance.

So much as hint to a scientist that a lawyer might "take their work
away" and you have a fight on your hands.  Doesn't matter if the
perception is not accurate; it's very common (I'd say almost universal)
and likely to be very difficult to change.

Rufus says

> ...most open licenses whether in software, content or anywhere 
> else aren't 'enforced' (and won't be enforced) by recourse to
> the courts. [...]  Saying use licenses isn't saying: let's 
> settle all our disputes in courts!

and my immediate reaction is bullshit, that's exactly what it's saying!  

Then I stop to think about it, and realize that I can't think of more
than a couple of court cases involving open licenses.  My point here is
that, contrary to popular misconception, you won't get most scientists
to think beyond their immediate reaction, and evidence won't change
their minds.  Sad but true.

Cam again:

> In my view our best chance of promoting best practice and 
> "enforcement" is through a protocol that funders choose to 
> adopt for the research they support. This is a much more 
> powerful way of driving researcher behaviour than through 
> person to person contractual arrangements. 

Funder *mandates* work -- the evidence from OA is strong.  Funder
suggestions or preferences or strong recommendations do NOT work --
again, evidence from OA.  If something is not a condition of taking the
money, it won't get done.

And Cam again:

> Do we in fact agree [that data and collections of data should be 
> explicitly placed in the public domain to maximise the ability for 
> re-use] ?

A central question.  We are all familiar with John Wilbanks' argument
for public domain, and I find it entirely persuasive so that's the way I

I suspect most working scientists would agree but perhaps that would be
a good question to approach empirically: question on FriendFeed to



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