The British Library has released three million records from the British National Bibliography into the public domain using the CC0 public domain waiver. The British National Bibliography contains data on publishing activity from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland since 1950. JISC OpenBibliography has made this set downloadable at CKAN; in addition, the Internet Archive also offers the data for download.
This is a tremendous move on behalf of the British Library and the JISC OpenBibliography project, and we would like to congratulate them on their contributions to open data. From the JISC OpenBibliography project blog,
“Agreements such as these are crucial to our community, as developments in areas such as Linked Data are only beneficial when there is content on which to operate. We look forward to announcing further releases and developments, and to being part of a community dedicated to the future of open scholarship.”
For more information, see the case study on the British Library–and help us add to and improve it!No Comments »
David Bollier writes in Viral Spiral, “Governments are coming to realize that they are one of the primary stewards of intellectual property, and that the wide dissemination of their work—statistics, research, reports, legislation, judicial decisions—can stimulate economic innovation, scientific progress, education, and cultural development” (192). The collection, creation and publishing of data has been increasingly central to government transparency and interaction with the public. Governments release datasets on census information, weather and geospatial data, food safety and product recall information, and data on foreign commerce and economic aid. In the United States there is now over 300,000 datasets made available to the public for consumption and innovative reuse via website mashups, mobile applications, and other uses.
Earlier this week open data and open government advocates gathered at the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. for the first International Open Government Data Conference. The purpose of the conference was “to gather the community of data owners, developers and policy makers from around the globe to share lessons learned, stimulate new ideas, and demonstrate the power of democratizing data.” The conference hosted a wide variety of speakers, including U.S. leaders like Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and Deputy Chief Technology Officer and Director of the Open Government Initiative Beth Noveck. There was also substantial international participation, including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the W3C and founder of the World Wide Web. Of particular interest to Creative Commons was the participation by Keitha Booth and Richard Best from New Zealand and Anne Fitzgerald and Trevor Smallwood from Australia. New Zealand and Australia have been leaders in using Creative Commons tools in sharing government information and datasets.
The open government movement has been building around the world. In the United States, the most recent catalyst of this work grew out of President Obama’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, which described the overarching principles for government operation: transparency, participation, and collaboration. Obama’s memo lead to the development of the Open Government Directive, charging government agencies to 1) publish government information online, 2) improve the quality of government information, 3) create and institutionalize a culture of open government, and 4) create an enabling policy framework for open government. The United States government efforts are collectively called the Open Government Initiative. Open government data initiatives hinge on the theory that government data should be made available to the taxpayers who paid for its creation.
New Zealand presentations
Keitha Booth is the Program Leader of the Open Government Information and Data Programme in New Zealand. She talked about the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing Framework, or NZGOAL, for short. NZGOAL was developed as a solution to some of the problems the government encountered in sharing its information. NZGOAL recommends the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license by default for works under Crown Copyright and also incorporates “no-known rights” statements for materials free of copyright. Keitha also talked about data.govt.nz, a directory of publicly-available, non-personal New Zealand government datasets. That site is licensed CC BY.
Richard Best, New Zealand Solicitor of Government Technology Services in the Department of Internal Affairs, spoke about the process behind the adoption of NZGOAL. Through consultation with various agencies, Richard discovered that policymakers and staff needed guidance on key aspects of copyright and wanted explicit procedures about how to implement the open licensing framework. He described that while the NZGOAL policies are not mandatory, cabinets and agencies must familiarize themselves with the process. Richard mentioned that while NZGOAL default license is CC BY, other Creative Commons licenses are allowed as long as agencies can justify the additional licensing conditions.
Anne Fitzgerald is Professor in Law Research at the Queensland University of Technology Law School. Anne spoke about the importance of managing rights in the process of opening up government data, and described how the Australian government leverages Creative Commons licensing in its open government framework. At the outset, Anne noted a key distinction between Australian and U.S. law. While works created by the United States Government are free of copyright restrictions within the U.S., the Australian government asserts Crown Copyright over the works it creates. This applies to informational works, research reports and databases, cultural materials, and other public sector information (PSI). Professor Fitzgerald said that the advantages of using Creative Commons licenses are aligned with the government’s recognition of copyright in the materials it creates, while at the same time supporting its open access policy objectives and avoiding financial and technical locks around taxpayer-funded resources.
Trevor Smallwood, Assistant Secretary of Cyber-Security in the Australian Government Information Management Office, spoke about some of the open government and open data initiatives in Australia that leverage Creative Commons licensing. For instance, the Australian Department of Finance and Deregulation releases the budget, government briefs, and data.gov.au content under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Other initiatives such as the Polar Information Commons, Department of Broadband, and Australian Parliament use open licensing too.
Keitha and Trevor’s presentation slides can be downloaded at the conference site or directly (PDF) here. Anne’s presentation slides can be downloaded at the conference site or directly (PDF) here. Richard’s presentation is available here.
We’ve been reporting on how governments have been demonstrating leadership in openness with Creative Commons. In addition to the New Zealand and Australia projects mentioned above, we’ve been collecting other examples on our wiki of how countries and intergovernmental organizations are adopting open licensing and public domain tools to provide increased access to government information and other public sector information. If you know of other initiatives, please add them to this wiki page.No Comments »
Last week we tweeted that Cologne-based libraries had released 5.4 million bibliographic records under CC0. This is tremendous news, as “libraries have been involved with the Open Access movement for a long time.” From the press release,
Rolf Thiele, deputy director of the USB Cologne, states: “Libraries appreciate the Open Access movement because they themselves feel obliged to provide access to knowledge without barriers. Providing this kind of access for bibliographic data, thus applying the idea of Open Access to their own products, has been disregarded until now. Up to this point, it was not possible to download library catalogues as a whole. This will now be possible. We are taking a first step towards a worldwide visibility of library holdings on the internet.”
“In times in which publishers and some library organisations see data primarily as a source of capital, it is important to stick up for the traditional duty of libraries and librarians. Libraries have always strived to make large amounts of knowledge accessible to as many people as possible, with the lowest restrictions possible,” said Silke Schomburg, deputy director of the hbz. “Furthermore libraries are funded by the public. And what is publicly financed should be made available to the public without restrictions,” she continued.
With so much library data now in the public domain, there emerges greater potential synergy for libraries and the Semantic Web:
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The North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center has recently begun evaluating the possibilities to transform data from library catalogs in such a way that it can become a part of the emerging Semantic Web. The liberalization of bibliographic data provides the legal background to perform this transformation in a cooperative, open, and transparent way. Currently there are discussions with other member libraries of the hbz library network to publish their data. Moreover, “Open Data” and “Semantic Web” are topics that are gaining perception in the international library world.