open data: are licenses needed?

Now that I’m back to regular rhythms and the intensity of scifoo has subsided I’m back to the current main obsession of this blog: access to data and its re-use. It’s catalysed by a post from Peter Suber commenting on David Wiley’s posts on open content licences. I shall quote a lot. (Yes, I could simply transclude by link, but I think it’s useful to highlight the words that DavidW uses.)
I was asked yesterday to summarise for a reporter why I had issues with certain publishers (I’ll post when the report appears). What I am trying to do on this blog at the moment is (a) to find out what the current situations for data access and re-use ARE and (b) then to highlight the cases which I and others think are unsatisfactory for modern data-driven research. I am not “anti-publisher” or “anti-capitalist”, but I am “anti-fuzz” and “anti-FUD”. I try to be relatively fair and I have lauded two publishers whose policies are now clear to me. Sometimes the discourse here seems tedious and repetitive – but that’s the way it is at present.
Since I am a physical scientist and a programmer I often see things in a literal and algorithmic way. If “open access” is defined in a declaration, and everyone in the publishing industry knows about that declaration then I assume by default that the words have a logical constraint or enablement on the content . But that is clearly not true. Various publishers (and I am not rehashing their words today) assume that “open access” can be used in whatever way they choose to define. Perhaps. But it isn’t generally helpful. Similarly others assume that copyright and licences are linked in some manner that is obvious to them but not to me. So, it seems that clear copyright and clear licences are going to have to be part of the future. “Data are not copyrightable” is a simple algorithm but (a) not everyone agrees what data are and (b) some people (especially Europeans) think it doesn’t apply in some cases.
I should also stress that when we use robots to read the literature (as we are now doing) we have to have clear licences. A robot is generally less smart than an adult human and needs telling clearly what it can and cannot do. If that clarity is missing, then default assumptions will be detrimental to some or all of the parties.
So, as this is a long post already, here’s the link to David Wiley’s posts:
Open Education License Draft and Assymetry, Hypocrisy, and Public Domain
the next posts [*][*] comment on issues therein.

This entry was posted in data, open issues. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to open data: are licenses needed?

  1. Pingback: » Open science and licensing » business|bytes|genes|molecules

  2. Pingback: Can a personal genome sequence get a creative commons license? : The Personal Genome

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *