Chemspider adopts CC-SA licence

I am DELIGHTED to report that Chemspider has adopted a CC-SA licence for its data. I comment below:

05:23 06/05/2008, Antony Williams,
Over the past year ChemSpider has been challenged over the nature of our offering in terms of Open Data etc. A small number of people focused a lot of time talking about this while we remained focused on improving the website and having it available for people to use as a Free Access website. I spoke to Peter Suber about Open Access and then John Willbanks about Creative Commons.
Since ChemSpider is the aggregate of a number of people’s work (including provision of software by collaborators) I had to get into conversation to see what licenses would be acceptable to those groups.
With the redesign of the website we have structured ourselves in a way to add licenses as we see appropriate now. So, as of today we have added the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 United States License and the appropriate logo is on all sections of a Record View except for the predicted properties. Once we get approval from our collaborators for this same license (and discussions are underway) then the whole record view will be Licensed.
At that point, you are free :

  • to Remix — to make derivative works

Under the following conditions:

  • Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
  • Share Alike. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same, similar or a compatible license.
  • PMR: This is wonderful. As far as I know Chemspider is the only commercial chemical information company offering data under this licence, which is completely compatible with the Open Knowledge Definition. (It is also BBB-compliant, though data and publications are different animals).
    For those not familiar with Chemspider (Chemspider official site) it is a commercial company which inter alia aggregates data from public sources, and offers to host data from individuals and organisations, combining them through a common linkbase, primarily of chemical structure identifiers.
    Chemspider has moved a long way since its beginnings which did not originally include an Open model for the content, and they deserve great kudos for having made the transition.
    Note that this sort of data sharing is common in biosciences, astronomy and a number of other sciences. though generally the support comes either from public funding, industrial subventions or marginal resources from the community. In those areas licences are often not used as there is an ethos of Community Norms where researchers are expected to make their data avaliable, wheareas in chemistry the ethos is to control access and charge for it.
    Chemspider has similarities to the NIH’s Pubchem which also aggregates chemical data, often by donations from agencies, suppliers and research collections. As CS notes the data were originally produced by the community and so they should have access to them.
    The real tragedy of chemical information is that the data produced in the primary literature cannot go directly into Chemspider, Pubchem or any other database because the publishers would send lawyers. Chemspider have tried to get ACS to allow them to use the CIF data which we collect in CrystalEye. I assert that these data, which the ACS copyrights, are facts and so can be re-used as facts without breaking copyright. Antony Williams has asked the ACS on more than one occasion whether they can use these data, and the ACS have been unable to say yes or no, but mainly mumble. It’s this sort of lack of help from learned societies which makes it such a hard struggle. Chemspider and ourselves now have a lot in common and I’ll address some of this when I reply to their CrystalEye post. (Makes a change from trying trying to work out what Open Access is).

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