Which open data license?

Cross‑posting here on the selection of open data licenses covering non‑personal information in the domain of energy systems analysis:

Release 10 of the embedded diagram showing open data‑capable license interoperability.


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I am currently extending the above compatibility graph to include various national licenses — including from the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. In that quest, does anyone have any analysis on the legal compatibility between the OGL‑UK‑3.0 and CC‑BY‑4.0 licenses?

I have asked the same question in a number of other venues, involving software lawyers and data platform builders to name two, and have not received an answer. This question is absolutely pivotal when datasets are to be mixed to produce derivative works.

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Hi @robbiemorrison! Looks like they should be compatible: Open Government Licence terms states “These terms are compatible with the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 and the Open Data Commons Attribution License, both of which license copyright and database rights. This means that when the Information is adapted and licensed under either of those licences, you automatically satisfy the conditions of the OGL when you comply with the other licence. The OGLv3.0 is Open Definition compliant.”

Hi @lwinfree! That is not so great for the open data world. That means the CC‑BY‑4.0 is inbound compatible with the OGL‑UK‑3.0 but not visa‑versa. So material from various sources under Creative Commons data‑capable licenses, say from the European Commission or the World Resources Institute or Zenodo or from any number of scientific papers, can be mixed in with UK government data, but not be exported back out to those sources. If I was in the United Kingdom, I would certainly push for CC‑BY‑4.0 licenses on public interest information. But that’s not my patch. Many thanks for your reply. Much appreciated. I now have an arrow to place on my chart! And another data silo to label as such, regrettably.

Can anyone confirm that the OGL‑UK‑3.0 can only be applied by United Kingdom public bodies but no one else? The wikipedia article does not contradict that view. I’ve also heard it said but I would like a reliable secondary source, either way.

My next task is trying to uncover the relationship between the newly released CDLA‑Permissive‑2.0 license from the Linux Foundation and the existing Creative Commons licenses. All I have from the Linux Foundation so far is a press release that skips over much of the detail.

I think most new licenses make CC‑BY‑4.0 inbound compatibility a design requirement. To maximize their prospects in the same way that back holes attempt to.

Regarding Open Definition compliance, I am also of the opinion that the Open Knowledge Foundation should take a strategic decision to freeze all approval applications and settle on “CC‑BY‑4.0, CC0‑1.0, or something inbound compatible” as their recommendation. Legacy licenses like the ODbL‑1.0, as used by OpenStreetMap, will need to persist of course. However I note that OSM asks new registrants if they consent to dual licensing with CC0‑1.0 these days.

It is worth stressing that “interoperability” can only ever be a one‑way street. This is a basic result of formal logic. If two‑way interoperability exists, then the two interacting licenses must be legally identical in every way.

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This seems like two different decisions. There aren’t a torrent of approval applications, so there’s not really anything to freeze. The currently recommended licenses are close to what you recommend, except that ShareAlike is included, and of course corresponding ODC licenses are included. Regarding ODC, haven’t heard a peep in years, but that’s probably yet another mostly separate topic.

I will post an extended version of the directed graph shown in the top posting in due course, hopefully within the week.

Here is a very recent OKF license approval request: