Open Knowledge

Open Definition

Defining Open in Open Data, Open Content and Open Knowledge
04 December 2013 by Mike Linksvayer

License proliferation increases costs for publishers and users (more licenses to understand, evaluate, and comply with) and fractures the commons through incompatibility and non-open terms. The Open Definition Advisory Council and others have noted a surge in jurisdiction, sub-jurisdiction, and sector specific licenses intended for government data, or more generally, Public Sector Information (PSI).

Read recent posts by AC members Leigh Dodds and Mike Linksvayer, and highlighting the same issues in response to a European Commission consultation on PSI, from the Communia Association and Creative Commons.

A few themes you’ll notice across those posts:

  • The harm of license proliferation
  • Public domain as the ideal policy for PSI
  • Open Definition compliance as a harm reduction strategy, where public domain is not the default and new licenses are created

The last has been very much on the minds of AC members, and has informed our feedback on new PSI licenses in development (the OGL UK 2.0 is a notable success) and the approval process for new PSI licenses developed without our feedback.

It is also informing the development of Open Definition 2.0, which will not be a substantive change. Open will still be best summed up as “anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.” But it is an opportunity to make the definition easier to read, and either through recommendations embedded in the definition, or stressed further in the approval process – discourage license proliferation and encourage whatever new license are developed to be maximally open and compatible with existing licenses.

If you’d like to help give feedback to license proposals, vet licenses submitted for conformance, and help write OD 2.0 and improve our process, please join od-discuss. If your government is developing a bespoke license, tell them to please consult with the Open Definition Advisory Council!