Help text and tool tips - 7. Openly licensed?


#1

As mentioned over here, I’m proposing shorter text for the nine census questions. Here’s the 7th suggestion

Question 7: Openly licensed?
Current:

This mean the data term and conditions follows The Open Definition, which stipulates that in order for data to be open, it needs to be free to use, reuse or to redistribute. Which licenses are open? On the site of The Open Definition you can also see a directory of licenses that are certified open. How can you find the license? That can sometimes be the tricky part. Usually, license or Terms & Conditions can be found at the bottom of the website (linked in the footer) or under the website “About” section. If there is no visible license or the license is under the country’s name, for example - “Copyrighted under the state of Lebanon” and there is no terms and condition or any other information on the site, the information is not open and you should answer “No”. If the information is licenced under Creative Commons licences, like in the case of Australia for instance, then the data is openly licensed (except if they are using Creative Commons’ non-commercial licenses - the ones with “NC” or “ND” in them - these are partially open, but not fully open according to The Open Definition - and therefore in this case to be considered not open). Note that sometimes countries do not license under Creative Commons, but the terms and conditions do allow use, re-use and distribution. In that case we suggest you write to the Open Data Census list and get feedback from the community.

Proposed:

The licence must comply with the Open Definition which allows data to be freely used, reused and redistributed. The Open Definition provides a list of conformant licences. If the data uses one of these licences, it is openly licensed.

Licences are commonly found in:

  • the web page footer
  • a link to Terms & Conditions
  • the About section.

Some licences may allow re-use and redistribution but have not been assessed as conformant with the Open Definition. In this case, seek feedback on the Open Data Census support forum.

If the page has a Copyright symbol © and/or copyright statement on the page, it is not openly licensed.


#2

Two cases to bear in mind here:

(1) in a few jurisdictions (for instance US Federal Government) government information is in the public domain (at least in relation to US citizens) and is not “licensed” because the Government do not have the intellectual property rights in the first place.

(2) similar considerations where there are formal legal provisions for a particular institution’s data to be freely reused (for example ROSSTAT and some other institutions in the Russian Federation).

In other jurisdictions it is OK (and normally advisable) for the institution to assert copyright with a copyright symbol and statement. The key question is what comes next - if it is silent then the default is all rights reserved, and some governments say “Copyright © Government. All Rights Reserved”, and neither of these is open. Conversely sites such as gov.uk say “© Crown Copyright. Content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0.” which is fine.


#3

Thank you @dirdigeng. What change would you suggest? Should I simply delete the last sentence?


#4

What is missing for me here is how state and local government in the United States should interact with copyrights? Reading the United States Federal public domain content in wikipedia it looks like everything is by default in the public domain unless other wise noted? And also the Copyright symbols are no longer needed as long as the work has acquired a form. The creative commons description seems to say creative commons licenses apply only to where copyrights have actually existed. If I go by the Open Definition listed here, I tend to think that no data in any US state or local jurisdiction data repository is truly open. There are always restrictions on commercial usage. How do I determine if I actually have a copyright if I work in government? How do I determine how open I am if I allow individuals to see all the data but restrict how corporations re use the data? I looked through the Open Definition licenses and none of them seemed applicable. So I probably need some type of generic suggestion for a license that works well with a city in the United States given that only Federal law is active in this area for the city.


Is USA government data open according to the Open Definition?
#5

@cosnate Thanks for you thoughts. You’ve asked many questions here that may be better discussed in a separate topic. @Mor can you invite some of our Open Definition friends into the conversation to help here? I’m sure this must of been considered in previous census.

With respect to determining if you/the government has copyright (i.e. the right to share), this may help - but I’m no expert.

With respect to the census openly licence question, does this work any better?

The licence must comply with the Open Definition which allows data to be freely used, reused and redistributed. The Open Definition provides a list of conformant licences. If the data uses one of these licences, it is openly licensed.

Licences are commonly found in:

  • the web page footer
  • a link to Terms & Conditions
  • the About section.

Some licences may allow re-use and redistribution but have not been assessed as conformant with the Open Definition. In this case, seek feedback on the Open Data Index discussion forum.


#6

There is a proposal currently for Open Definition v 2.1 that will add language about public domain so it doesn’t require things to be licensed under some other non-public-domain terms per se. This is an important fix that will go along with several other updates for the updated OD.


Open License Requirements
#7

Hi, to comment on some of the issues raised:

  • As @dirdigeng points out, US Federal government’s work is public domain for the context US copyright law applies. But that means the data is not necessarily open for other contexts.
    I remember discussion among Japanese Wikipedians on the usability of US Federal content for Japanese Wikipedia, and their conclusion was that it was not legally usable. This was due to the treatment of those Fed works under Japanese copyright law. (They were/are protected, unfortunately).
    At another time, I chatted with some notable open access academic over this issue, and his answer was that, although he was aware of the problem, and pressed the US government to apply some globally effective license, the government was interested in keep it that way, due to some international
    negotiaon related to libraries.

  • In general, the fact that some work is public domain under one country’s law does not mean that it is globally open. Statutory openness, compared to licensing-based one, seems to have such limitation intrinsically.

  • On Data.gov, I see the statement that the Federal governemnt is offering the data “free and without restrictions” http://www.data.gov/data-policy
    Strictly speaking, how to properly rate US data openness has to do with the interpretation of this and surrounding text, I suppose.

  • I see @Stephen 's suggested edit to be good enough. If anything, as an instruction, it should recommend to check those pages anyways, because there are sometimes conflicting messages. A government web site may be saying the data is provided under CC BY 4.0 International on one hand, for example, and ToS of the site prohibits any commercial use on the other hand. Some governments really mean to restrict some use in such a way, though in other times, it is a result of some mistake.


#8

Thanks for the replies. We will discuss it in our office a bit more. It seems like we are Public Domain(not creative commons) by default unless we note otherwise. The edit for the help text here seems good to me. I was able to use it and get reasonably educated fairly quickly. I usually like the context of help to be in a single panel with few hyperlinks out. But the Open Definition and Conformant licenses links were easy to use. I am finding the Open Data Index Discussion forum initially pretty difficult to navigate accurately. But if I use it a lot I’ll get better at it.