Open Knowledge; London meeting and later

The  Open Knowledge Foundation has a clear and pragmatic approach to making knowledge (data, creative works, monographs, etc.) Open. It’s very clear what Open Knowledge is (The Open Knowledge Definition) (unlike Open Access which is still working out what it is). Last week the OKF had a London meeting – it meant to blog it (a) during the meeting, but I was much too intested in the business and (b) after we got back from the pub. So just to say that we were a diverse set of people – from academia, transport, government, etc. OKF has achieved a lot already – it’s respected, it keys into organisations such as Science Commons and it has made major contributions to defining the meaning and the practice of Open Knowledge. We’re not an advocacy group, but we do want to evangelize OK. Jonathan Gray ran the meeting and it was nice to meet again – among others  -Cameron Neylon – who is Opening science in the laboratory – and Jordan Hatcher who was the major engine behind the legal apparatus of Open Knowledge.
What is Open Knowledge? One idea we left with was to create a 10-minute vidcast showing what sorts of things people are doing and why it is so valuable. I think Jonathan will be following this up.
John Wilbanks of Science Commons is one of the advisory board and here’s a substantial post from him. I add a few comments at the bottom…

I second the motion.
I would add to it that I'd like to see a meaningful discussion of the
risks of Share Alike and Attribution on data integration. Chemspider's
move to CC BY SA fits into this discussion nicely - it's a total
violation of the open data protocol we laid out at SC, which says "Don't
Use CC Licenses on Data" - but it does conform inside the broader OKD.
It'd be nice to articulate when and how the goals of integrating
databases fit in the OKD. If you're not trying to integrate data, then
SA and BY are ok I suppose. But in data, the *most restrictive license
wins* - which creates inherent problems with at least SA and NC clauses.
This is the opposite of software code in which the virally open license
can defeat closed licensing, and is a reflection of the inherently
different behavior of data from a copyrights and sui generis rights
For example, given the lack of clarity on the database directive, and
the fact that any query result from a database might well qualify as
"substantial extraction" then the rational assumption is that answers to
database queries should be regarded as "derivative works" under
licensing regimes like the ODL. This would also apply to any query to an
integrated knowledgebase like our Neurocommons. It would also in theory
apply to a Google result if that Google result touched the database
licensed underneath (especially if the Google result brought back a lot
of the underlying database, somewhere in its "5,000,000 results" set).
This is the case of any query to a federated web if the results of that
query touch on the database, as the result of a query to a database is
most definitely itself a data product and thus subject to the license...
This is, at least, the conclusion of the nearly two years of legal
research we did at SC. We continue to look for holes in the reasoning
and welcome any and all feedback from this group on the topic...
jo [email] wrote:
> On Thu, May 08, 2008 at 01:08:30PM -0700, Jonathan Gray wrote:
>> Peter Murray-Rust and I also recently discussed how it would be great to
>> have a document, or a series of documents, on the rationale behind not
>> including licenses with non-commercial restrictions in the OKD.
> I'd *really* like to see this especially if it includes a strong
> account of the economic case for "public sector" organisations not
> placing non-commercial restrictions on data (a compromise viewed as
> "politically acceptable" too much ...  Rufus et al's recent paper on
> Trading Fund potential models for distribution of raw/unrefined data
> made some useful points but it was all kind of enmeshed in the local
> policy context...
> jo
> --
> _______________________________________________
> od-coord mailing list
PMR: I agree with John. Licences are not appropriate for data (and when I applauded Chemspider it was for the motivation rather than the actual mechanism - CC-SA is conformant to the OK definition, but difficult to operate for re-use). That's why we use the OKF's OpenData sticker on CrystalEye.
Note that Science Commons' promotion of the idea of Community norms is very important. The bisocience community does not licence data because there is a general agreement (Community Norm) that it is Open and re-usable. Whereas in chemistry the Community Norm is copyright it, protect it, sell it back to the authors, stop it being integrated, send the lawyers, etc. Some chemical information organizations (no names) have lots of lawyers and seem to get a lot of practice by suing people. So maybe chemistry needs licences as it drags itself out of the information swamp.
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3 Responses to Open Knowledge; London meeting and later

  1. Peter, I think we applaud the choice for ChemSpider’s choice of license too, because we are happy about people using the Academic license (in parallel to the BY clause), or the GPL (in parallel to the GPL). I do not see a fundamental reason why we should treat data different from other kinds of knowledge, viz. algorithms.
    I have written things up in my blog in a bit more detail:
    I understand John wish to have more freedom when combining data sources, but that’s not different from the viral aspect of the GPL. It’s just caused by John’s desire to not use the CC-BY-SA himself, I think. License incompatibilities are not new, and it should not make us less happy about the statement of ChemSpider towards Open Data.

  2. Pingback: Plausible Accuracy » Blog Archive » Data should be public domain, and more esoteric blog-based ‘rasslin’

  3. Pingback: ChemSpider Blog » Blog Archive » ChemSpider Removes Creative Commons Licenses

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