Last week I attended a free ‘licensing clinic
‘ in Birmingham, organised by the Discovery
programme – mainly as a means of kick-starting my brain into considering the copyright/licensing issues around the CLOCK project. Here are my notes.
- The Jerome project addressed licensing in April, 2011, and the situation hasn’t really changed for us: we’re still intending to expose as much of our bibliographic data as possible using a properly open licence such as CC0.
Ed Chamberlain and the COMET project also addressed licensing and the ownership of MARC records: work that we should revisit.
The JISC Open Bibliographic Data Guide (obd.jisc.ac.uk) provides very clear advice and information useful in creating an open data business case. E.g.:
- “The licensing of data is an interesting one, since we run into a whole bunch of questions around who actually owns the information in our catalogue. Since it’s all factual information (and you can’t copyright a fact) then surely it’s a free for all – except that EU law introduces a curve ball in the form of database right. Broadly speaking this provides specific protection for collections of records, but not the records themselves.”
There is some very helpful guidance coming out of the Discovery project around building a business case for open discovery. This was summarised at the recent Discovery programme meeting (also in Birmingham) by David Kay –
- “[…]if we presume that the rationale for publication is to ensure the widest possible dissemination then adoption of a generic open data license (such as Open Data Commons or CC0) is the most effective way to make the set of potential uses unambiguous. Restrictive licenses are counter-productive[…]“
At Lincoln in March, 2012, we had a very useful visit from Sander van der Waal of OSS Watch where we discussed the University of Lincoln’s approach to openness (Open Source, Open Access, as well as Open Data). Joss Winn is following this work up with the University’s IP manager with a view to writing a University policy on open licensing of our IP.
Related to the ‘business case’ aspect is the work of LNCD (and also discussions I’ve had with Ed Chamberlain recently) about how to ensure sustainability of open services in a technical sense – what sort of systems architecture and processes do we need in place, and how do we work with university ICT support departments to ensure that projects become institutionally-supported services when it’s important for them to do so?
At this, Birmingham event, Chris Banks of the University of Aberdeen presented about the benefits and challenges of sharing from a library director’s perspective. I was particularly interested in the metaphor of “metadata as currency”: how are aggregators creating value based on the mass accumulation of metadata, and how are they selling that value back to libraries? See Chris’s blog for more. Aberdeen are clearly doing a lot around the analysis of e-resources usage and relating it back to their library strategy / information literacy, etc.
Paul Miller (Cloud of Data): one key quote “amateurs tend to do a better job of aggregating content than institutions” (e.g. collections of images on Flickr). This may be in part because individuals don’t have the same risk-averse approach, but whatever the reason
Barrister Frances Davey gave us a quick run-through of IP law as it relates to data. Key quote: “the legal repercussions of publishing data openly are pretty much nil“. Fear and uncertainty poisons initiative! Frances also touched on the business / reputation-management arguments for having an active approach to open data: people might well be getting bad copies of your data already (via screenscraping) – release it yourself and take control of the quality. Example of the British Library choosing a CC0 licence precisely because of the lack of an attribution clause – then any subsequent re-use is “nothing more to do with us”.
Then, after lunch, copyright consultant Naomi Korn ran a workshop on the practical aspects of choosing a licence for your data. Naomi spoke about the need to start by deciding how open you want to be as an institution (noting that institutions with a dedicated © person tend to have a greater appetite for risk) – then consider whether you have the resources in place to get where you want to be. Key quote: “Let’s do some attribution mapping!” Some link from Naomi’s workshop:
At the Birmingham clinic we also discussed the risks (including the risk of doing nothing) and benefits of taking an open approach. My contribution: open bibliographic data enables high-level services to be sold back to universities (c.f. Chris Banks’ notes on metadata aggregation, above). We shouldn’t be scared of this or see it as a reason to not open up our data (we can’t compete with those companies; we want their services and we’re prepared to pay for them!); but we can build lower-level, locally-relevant services as a result of releasing our own open data, and play on the web by web rules – if we don’t make our data open for re-use on the web, we can’t even have the conversation. Lincoln’s approach is entirely around open data as a means to an end: it’s the best and most natural way of sparking off new, innovative services based on unexpected combinations of our own and other people’s data.
- N.B. I’ll revisit this in a future blog post. I’m getting almost surprisingly interested in the problem of ‘selling’ the idea of open bib data to an institution, and I’ve found the Discovery work on business cases increasingly useful.
Final overall quote of the day: “Writing your own open licence is an unpleasant form of vanity“.
- The best example of this so far are the new data-driven staff profiles at Lincoln: but we’re going to need more and more convincing examples if we’re going to make a convincing business case.