Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More on the Science Commons open data protocol

Thinh Nguyen, Freedom to Research: Keeping Scientific Data Open, Accessible, and Interoperable, Science Commons, April 23, 2008.  (Thanks to the Science Commons blog.)  Nguyen is the Counsel for Science Commons.  Excerpt:

...As an outgrowth of our work with the scientific community, we at Science Commons have had our own paradigm shift. The result is the Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data, a set of principles designed to ensure that scientific data remains open, accessible, and interoperable. Creative Commons' announcement of the beta CC0 waiver is another milestone in this shift; the waiver is a new legal tool, along with the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License (PDDL), that implements the Protocol....

Before developing the Protocol, Science Commons offered guidance to scientific database providers through the Science Commons Database FAQ. This document explained how and when it was best to use Creative Commons licenses for databases. In general, it encouraged providers to apply Creative Commons licenses only to copyrightable content, while also encouraging them to clarify that no restrictions or obligations were asserted on facts, ideas, and other uncopyrightable content.

There were two problems with that approach. First, it proved very difficult, not only for scientists but also for lawyers and legal scholars, to provide useful guidance on when copyright stops and the public domain facts begin. This problem is compounded when multiple jurisdictions are involved, as is the case with collaborative online global databases. Second, facts and ideas may also be protected as such in some jurisdictions under a database copyright theory, or under sui generis database rights, or both....

The core insight behind the Science Commons Data Protocol is that the solution to these problems is to return data to the public domain by relinquishing all rights, of whatever origin or scope, that would otherwise restrict the ability to do research (i.e., the ability to extract, reuse,
and distribute data). The goals of the Protocol are to keep data open, accessible, and interoperable, and its virtues lie in its simplicity, predictability, and consistent treatment of users and data....