[open-science] Should scientific text be put in the public domain rather than licensed with CC-BY?

Michael Nielsen mn at michaelnielsen.org
Wed Jan 12 17:46:55 UTC 2011

On Wed, 12 Jan 2011, Thomas Kluyver wrote:

> On 12 January 2011 15:38, Marius Kempe <m.kempe at qmul.ac.uk> wrote:
>       One day not very far from today, scientific texts will be the raw data of
>       natural language science knowledge engines, and then the situation for
>       text will be exactly the same as that for data. Using CC0 today will make
>       this easier in the future, for all the same reasons that you support CC0
>       for data.
> Copyright on writing protects an arrangement of words. If this hypothetical knowledge
> engine reuses enough of that arrangement in some response to potentially infringe
> copyright, there's no reason it can't include a link to their source (attribution),
> and I would want it to. What use would it be without pointing to its sources? If it
> doesn't reuse that arrangement of words, it can't infringe the writer's copyright. I
> can't see a situation in which you'd want to copy text verbatim without referring to
> the source.
> I don't think "CC-BY for writing, CC0 for data" is too complex.

To play Devil's Advocate: if my database has been produced by data mining 
other people's texts, at what threshold level of use of their texts do I 
start to need to attribute?  How should my software decide?

> Puneet:
> > What could we do if all scientific writing were CC-BY that couldn't be done if it
> were all CC0?
> To play devil's advocate: sue anyone who distributes it without attribution. To put
> it plainly, CC0 potentially leads to:
> - Some unwanted potential outcomes (people are free to rip your work off without
> giving you any credit)

I don't think this is likely.  My understanding is that much US Government 
research is released into the public domain (indeed, some of mine was, 
when I worked at Los Alamos National Lab).  But I've never heard anyone 
complain that this causes problems with plagiarism.  I'm sure there are 
cases scientists have sued one another before over this kind of thing, but 
I've never personally witnessed an instance.  On the other hand, I've 
personally seen dozens or hundreds of instances where community pressure 
has been brought to bear on issues around atttribution.


More information about the open-science mailing list