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

Marius Kempe m.kempe at qmul.ac.uk
Wed Jan 12 23:12:52 UTC 2011

Thanks everyone for the input!

Michael has put the argument for using the public domain to avoid
attribution stacking problems far more eloquently than I could have.

Michael and Tania: I believe the law you are talking about it is USC Title
17 Section 105, which specifies that "Copyright protection under this title
is not available for any work of the United States Government" -
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/105.html - see

Rufus, and all: Would you support a statement similar to the Panton
Principles but with a broader scope, directly addressing scientific text and
other communication mediums (audio/video of lectures, seminars) and pointing
to statements such as the Panton Principles, Open Biblio, and the Unlicense
for the other products of research? It seems to me that this would be very
helpful for the majority of scholars, who may have heard of open access
journals but haven't delved into the world of open science and the attendant
legal and technical issues; a clear statement and guidelines on why and how
to share scientific work, endorsed by the relevant organizations, might well
make them feel more comfortable 'opening up'.

Hence why I'm bringing up the public domain vs CC-BY - if the community
agrees that the public domain is as appropriate for writing as for data,
such a website should advise scientists to use the public domain in the
first instance and fall back on copyright licenses which meet the Open
Definition if they can't or won't use the public domain.


PS. I hope it's been clear that I use 'attribution' and 'citation' with the
same intended meanings as John Wilbanks outlined - attribution for the legal
requirement that is part of copyright and moral rights, and citation for the
non-legal standard of naming scholars when using or reproducing their work
or ideas.

On Wed, Jan 12, 2011 at 6:30 PM, Rufus Pollock <rufus.pollock at okfn.org>wrote:

> On 12 January 2011 13:51, Marius Kempe <m.kempe at qmul.ac.uk> wrote:
> > The other point that I feel is worth making is that many of the reasons
> that
> > the Panton Principles and Open Biblio give for using the public domain
> apply
> > equally to scientific texts - why should open scientists advocate a
> > confusing two-tiered system of public domain for data and bibliographic
> > records but copyright licensing for papers and books?
> [Only just catching up with this thread]
> It's important to remember that the Panton Principles specifically
> cite centrality of reuse and the *publicly funded* nature of work as a
> reason for the PD-only approach. I should also point out that PP first
> and foremost advocate 'open' data (as in http://opendefinition.org/)
> with the PD recommendation being a further recommendation on top of
> that. At least IMO (and I'm more of a social scientist than a
> scientist) I really don't see much issue with Attribution in the
> scientific area for data or publication.
> As I wrote in a follow in a post last year:
> <
> http://blog.okfn.org/2010/03/25/comments-on-the-panton-principles-and-data-licensing/
> >
> <quote>
> The Open Knowledge Foundation’s general position is one of supporting
> open data where “open” data includes data made available under
> licenses with attribution and share-alike clauses, though
> non-commercial restrictions are definitely not permitted (see
> http://www.opendefinition.org/ for precise details). The reason for
> excluding non-commercial is simple: share-alike is compatible with a
> commons open to everyone but non-commercial is not.
> Panton Principles 1-3 are, in essence, saying make data “open” in the
> sense of http://www.opendefinition.org/. Principle 4 goes beyond this
> to specifically recommend public-domain only for data related to
> published science, especially where the work is publicly funded.
> The rationale for this “stronger” position, at least for me, was that
> a) science has existing (very) strong norms for attribution (and, to a
> lesser extent, share-alike) b) science has strong up-front funding
> support from society which reduces some of the risks that share-alike
> addresses.
> That said, I should emphasize that, in my view at least, the key
> feature is that the data be made open — public domain
> dedication/licensing is “strongly recommended” but if you end up with
> an attribution or even share-alike type license that is still far, far
> better than not making the data available at all, or licensing it
> under non-commercial or other conditions.
> </quote>
> Regards
> Rufus
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