A few days ago I applauded (blog post) ChemSpider for releasing their data under CC-SA and I still do. CC-SA is compliant with the BBB defintion/declaration.
There has been some apparent criticism of this created because I unintentionally posted a private list to my blog. I apologize. to John, Chemspider and other members of the advisory board. The language reflects the type of discussion that a small community uses in private.
John has now blogged this
04:17 10/05/2008, john wilbanks' blog
This is a comment I posted on the ChemSpider blog, one of two I tried to post. I’m cross posting here to make sure it’s public. Make sure to click through to the blog, it’s on the topic of using CC licenses on data. I sent an email to a list that got blogged, before I could get a chance to reconcile everything and contact the Chemspider guys. I think they should get complimented for their intentions and that they deserve tea and sympathy, because this licensing stuff is really complicated, and all they wanted to do was share.
In short, it’s a demonstration of how confusing data licenses make the position of data providers essentially untenable. From my perspective, the answer is either go public domain, or don’t. If you don’t, please make the metadata public domain. Anything is simply too confusing to figure out, and it’s going to be worse.
Part of the problem is that we have created a cargo cult around licenses. A contract will come from the heavens and make us free! But in data we’ve got the public domain right there to teach us. All we have to do is look up from the lawyer’s desk and follow the yellow brick road…er, the NCBI’s lead.
I tried to post a comment but don’t know if it got through.
I did not intend for my comments to become public – that was a post to an advisory board list, intended to highlight precisely how this issue demonstrates the difficulty providers have in understanding licensing of data.
Creative Commons licenses were built for cultural works, like this blog or a website or music. They weren’t built for data. Data has different qualities and characteristics and thus requires different licensing approaches.
I would recommend you read the official CC position on this, which is the Science Commons Open Access Data Protocol (http://sciencecommons.org/projects/publishing/open-access-data-protocol/) and that you look at the best available legal tool to achieve the protocol (http://www.opendatacommons.org/odc-public-domain-dedication-and-licence/). These are regimes that facilitate data integration, unlike the CC BY SA license.
Please know that I salute your intent here and don’t want to slander you – you’re trying to share, and you’re confused on how to do so. I do believe that in our conversations I did indeed recommend to you the idea of releasing an RDF dump of your database in the public domain, using only the NCBI approach listed on this very blog. That’s essentially what we recommend at CC, as you’d see in the protocol.
Again, it was not my intent for this to go public before I could reach you, and I’m very sorry for that. It is never fun to make a decision and get pummeled for it, and from my perspective you don’t deserve the pummeling.
I’ll cross post this to my blog to make sure it gets online.
PMR: On the assumption that no lasting harm has been done, some good comes out the the episode:
- I will take greater care to make sure what I repost
- As there is very little general understanding of the benefits and disadvantages of licences it is clear that we (SC/OKF) have to work hard with each new community, some of whom have virtually no experience of licencing.
- We have had the chance to publicize how much we care about getting the mechanics of Openness right and what the issues are. We do not want fuzzy borderlines