Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, February 22, 2008

Profile of the Open Data Commons Project

Jordan Hatcher, Implementing Open Data: The Open Data Commons Project, Open Source Business Resource, February 2008.  Excerpt:

...With the funding and support of the information management company Talis, the Open Data Commons project (ODC) was founded in the autumn of 2007 to provide legal tools for sharing data. This project started through funding licence development by Jordan Hatcher and Dr. Charlotte Waelde of the University of Edinburgh. This resulted in the creation of the Public Domain Dedication & Licence (PDDL) legal tool which will be maintained by the Open Knowledge Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation promoting open knowledge. The PDDL dedicates the data and databases to the public domain, a position that offers a wide degree of flexibility for users of data and helps freely enable semantic web projects based on using large amounts of data....

In December 2007, Science Commons released their Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data. This protocol, written in the same style as a Request For Comment (RFC), outlines a legal standard for open access to data based on three principles:

  • the protocol must promote legal predictability and certainty
  • the protocol must be easy to use and understand
  • the protocol must impose the lowest possible transaction costs on users
Guided by these three principles and Science Commons' experience in maintaining their database FAQ on Creative Commons licences and data, they arrived at an approach that calls for waiver of relevant IPRs so that data could be treated as close to being in the public domain (without IPRs) as possible. Thus the protocol calls for waiver of:
  • copyright
  • the sui generis database right in the European Union mentioned above and similar protections
  • implied contract rights and rights in tort or delict such as unfair competition or trade secrets....

In implementing the Science Commons protocol, the ODC project set goals of:

  • making the protocol international
  • writing the legal document in plain language
  • clearly stating what rights were and were not covered....

The end result of the Science Commons Protocol and the implementation by ODC are solutions for those wishing to further data integration projects and to openly share their data. The PDDL together with the accompanying Community Norms statement will be particularly useful for scientists wishing to share their research data. But scientists are not the only anticipated users, as government sector data services, and private companies involved in data generation and sharing will all have an interest--as both consumers and producers of data--in having an option that allows for use and re-use of databases without restriction. The goal of the ODC project is to grow with the support of its users to meet the need for accessible legal tools for the creation of a web of open data of all types.

Should you wish to support the ODC's efforts to create data licensing solutions either financially or with your time, please contact us.