[School-of-data] Is data open if you can not create derivatives?

Michael Bauer michael.bauer at okfn.org
Fri Jul 11 08:06:42 UTC 2014


According to the OpenDefinition (http://opendefinition.org/) these datasets
are _not_ open.


On Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 12:44:18PM +1000, Simon Cropper wrote:
> Hi Everyone,
> I am currently collating some public datasets on nutrition as fodder for
> some community data wrangling projects and events I am planning.
> https://github.com/SimonChristopherCropper/Food_Data_Analysis
> Interestingly I have discovered that most datasets are released under a
> limited license -- put simply, the custodian agencies allow for
> redistribution of the dataset with attribution but derivatives of any kind
> are not allowed or allow you to look at their data but not even download
> them. Most nutritional datasets released worldwide fall into this
> category[1].
> To me this data is not open. Open data, in my mind, should allow for
> derivatives to be created and redistributed. I understand that agencies wish
> to be attributed and in some cases disclaimers included with any derivatives
> as means of indemnifying the source agency, but having constraints on
> 'working [2]' on and 'working' with the data makes the dataset of no real
> value.
> For the record -- the only datasets I have confirmed allow derivatives is
> the Australian, USA and Swiss Datasets, and maybe the UK dataset (still
> waiting for official confirmation of the ambiguous license documentation on
> the UK website).
> What is your opinion regarding 'openness'?
> When looking at licenses or terms of use statements, what attributes are you
> looking for? Do you have a preferred license type?
> Open Data in my mind has the following attributes:
> - freely downloadable/accessible in a common data format
> - the data is clearly described so other people can understand
>   what they are seeing (e.g. no undefined acronyms)
> - the methodology and sources of the information presented,
>   and any inherent problems, are clearly described and this document
>   freely available
> - there are no restrictions on working with the data and redistributing
>   your results (attributing the source and including disclaimers are
>   not considered to be restrictions in this definition)
> [1] This statement is based on inspection of the term of use for all the
> database identified from General Internet Searches using Google and all the
> databases specified in the list of Food Composition Databases managed by
> EuroFin (http://www.eurofir.org/?page_id=96)
> [2] Definition of 'working' -- cleansing, standardizing, wrangling, munging,
> coding, geocoding, summarizing, graphing, analyzing, etcetera.
> -- 
> Cheers Simon
>    Simon Cropper - Open Content Creator
>    Free and Open Source Software Workflow Guides
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