I had the pleasure of meeting Mat Todd in Sydney this year – a very pleasant day. Mat’s an organic chemist and very keyed into the ideas of semantic publication, sharing information, etc. He runs a blog – the Synaptic Leap – which looks at some of these issues. Here he needs suggestions about licensing.
Tue, 2008-06-24 21:36 — MatTodd
We’re drawing up a contract (with WHO and the ARC) to cover our new grant (and hence this site). Our business office would like to know which Creative Commons licence is most suitable. I was assuming Attribution 3.0 unported, since this allows sharing and remixing under attribution. On the face of it, a better alternative is Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, since this also requires that anyone using the research has to distribute their own work under a similar licence.
Anyone have any views on this for science research? Is the share-alike clause unduly restrictive? What if a company, reading results posted on these pages, would like to develop those results for a different for-profit reason that is unrelated to our original research interest – would a ‘share-alike’ licence prevent that?
PMR: It’s a great idea to post this on a blog – I’m relaying it here so it gets to other audiences, especially from the SC and OKF communities.
My own take is very strongly influenced by the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) and Science Commons ( who are an offshoot – not a fork – of CC). I’d strongly urge CC-BY (attribution) for the “fulltext” and the Science Commons + Open Knowledge approach to the data – no licence at all but instruments such as PDDL which make it clear that the data are Open and Free as in air.
“Non-commercial” immediately raises questions as to what is “commercial”. This is almost impossible to define, so generally all it causes is problems. Is a non-profit that sells goods and services commercial? If an academic runs a course and charges fees is that commercial? And so on…
I started this blog with CC-NC, not because of me but I was worried that readers migh not wish to contribute. Then I was persuaded to change to CC-BY and haven’t regretted it. Now it’s clear that anything on this blog is free and open, as long as you acknowledge the author (not always me). If you want to set it to music, compile a dictionary of incorrect English usage, use it as a public key for cryptography you can do it. You can create an anthology of all CC-BY blogs and sell them. You can set up a web service which charges people access to these blogs…
NC-SA is a recursive nightmare. I have already covered myself in shame for having mistakenly aired views of OKF members here, but at least it got the problem into the open. CC-SA has implications for any other digital artefact it is involved with. It is theoretically viral.
For the data we should use PDDL. From WP on Science Commons:
Using data and CC licenses
Science Commons launched on 16 December 2007 the Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data in conjunction with the Public Domain Dedication License and the Open Knowledge Foundation.
The Protocol is of note because, rather than relying on copyright licenses such as the Creative Commons licenses and the GNU GPL, it provides a rationale and methodology for reconstructing the public domain of data.
PMR: This can be coupled with “community norms” – the idea that authors express – in non-legal terms – what they feel is reasonable and not reasonable to do with the data. They can’t override the basic freedoms (e.g. authors cannot prevent export to countries their givernments don’t approve of). But in some areas there are complex problems – e.g. the use of human data – and it is important to develop protocols for these. My hope is that communities will start to pick up what practices are seen as acceptable and help to formalize them, hopefully with the help of Learned Societies and International Scientific Unions.