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

Heather Morrison heatherm at eln.bc.ca
Thu Feb 5 21:53:16 GMT 2009

thanks to everyone who has contributed very useful and thoughtful  
discussion on this important topic!

The problem and the reason why licenses are needed, in my opnion, is  
not scientists, but rather commercial for-profit businesses.  I would  
argue that taking stuff that starts out free and selling it under  
locked-down conditions IS the norm.  This is fine is the original  
free version is there - but this will not always be the case.

For example, consider the OCLC takeover of OAIster, and OCLC's  
current view of IP and data.  If OCLC continues to keep up (including  
growing and developing) the free version of OAIster, all well and  
good, along with a toll-access version for OCLC customers, all well  
and good.  If, however, the free version is abandoned, or simply not  
kept up so that it becomes less and less useful, then people are in  
the position of giving away data for free, for someone else to profit  
on with no obligation to share themselves.

An appropriate sharealike-style license for data would likely prevent  
this situation, and if it did not, would give the free sharing  
community a legal means of stopping it.

The primary purpose of the licensing approach would not be to go to  
court or even to clarify the rules, but rather to clarify the  
expectation of sharing and so avoid the means to go to court.

Any opinion expressed in this e-mail is that of the author alone, and  
does not represent the opinion or policy of BC Electronic Library  
Network or Simon Fraser University Library.

Heather Morrison, MLIS
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

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