Yesterday at the United Nations, President Barack Obama marked the Open Government Partnership‘s (OGP) third anniversary by announcing that in addition to the commitments outlined in the current U.S. OGP National Action Plan, “The United States will take additional steps to make our government more open, transparent, and accessible for all Americans.”
Among the multiple new commitments: “Promote open educational resources, to help teachers and students everywhere.”
The multi-pronged commitment to promote OER is described as the first item in the updated National Action Plan Commitments document (638 KB PDF):
Creative Commons licenses put the “open” in OER and we stand ready to work with governments everywhere who wish to update their OGP National Action Plans with commitments to support Open Educational Resources, Open Access, Open Data and Open Policies that require publicly funded resources be openly licensed.
Some of these developments may be dated by a month or more, but we want to make sure they are on your radar by pointing them out here.
Several open data portals have launched, including a Brazilian Open Data portal powered by the open-source data cataloguing software CKAN (run by the Open Knowledge Foundation – OKFN). The Ministry of Planning in Brazil worked with the OKFN to develop the portal, cultivating citizen participation through an open and transparent development process. Furthermore, the portal itself carries a default license of CC BY-SA. Since its May 4 launch, the portal has grown and now hosts 79 data sets and 893 resources. As noted on the OKFN blog, “the portal is part of a larger project called the National Infrastructure Open Data, or INDA. The general idea of INDA is to establish technical standards for open data, promote training and support public bodies in the task of publishing open data. This entire process is done through intra-government cooperation and cooperation between government and citizens, always aiming to achieve a real platform for open government.”
You should also take note of the Open GLAM data portal. This portal also runs on CKAN and is a hub for open data sets from GLAM institutions, aka Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums. The datasets are licensed under various open licenses, and some with no rights attached thanks to the use of the CC0 public domain waiver.
In addition to open data portals, open data initiatives like the School of Data and the Open Data Institute are taking off. The School of Data is a collaboration between the OKFN and the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) to “create a set of courses for people to learn how to do interesting things with data, from beginners to experts.” In late May, the School of Data held a week-long kick-off sprint in Berlin with a virtual component, which I participated in by helping to start an open data challenge with virtual colleagues. The challenge is still in development, and once completed it will be a part of the School of Open as well as the School of Data. You can help to build it at the P2PU platform.
The kick-off yielded a great foundation for many other data tracks as part of the School of Data, which you can read about here.
The Open Data Institute is an initiative by the UK government to “incubate, nurture and mentor new businesses exploiting Open Data for economic growth” and to “promote innovation driven by the UK Government Open Data policy.” £10m will be invested over five years by the Technology Strategy Board, a non-departmental public body. The UK government has published its implementation plan as a pdf online. You can learn more at The Guardian article from last May.
The data-driven economy is also a hot topic within the EU, with the emergence of a data session at the European Commission’s 2nd Digital Agenda Assembly taking place today and tomorrow. The workshop will “explore the potential of data, some of the most promising economic and business aspects involved, and discuss how policy for data and our investment in R&D can better address the challenges of businesses and the public sector and further support innovative business development.”
Lastly, to put all the current activity around data into perspective, is a thoughtful article by the OKFN’s Jonathan Gray on “What data can and cannot do.” The Guardian article reinforces the point that data, while valuable, when divorced from context and without interpretation, is not very effective. He encourages us to “cultivate a more critical literacy” towards data:
“Data can be an immensely powerful asset, if used in the right way. But as users and advocates of this potent and intoxicating stuff we should strive to keep our expectations of it proportional to the opportunity it represents.”
Essentially, opening up data is just the first step — and arguably, a necessary step to ensuring that data can be reused, contextualized, and interpreted in meaningful ways.
To learn more about how CC tools may be applied to data, see our landing page and FAQ on data.1 Comment »
While we gear up for the CC Global Summit that is just a week away, governments around the world continue to open up their data and adopt policies for maximum transparency and citizen engagement.
Open government developments in Austria, New Zealand, and Australia
In Austria, the City of Vienna, along with the Chancellor’s Office and the Austrian cities of Linz, Salzburg and Graz, coordinated their activities to establish the Cooperation OGD (Open Government Data) Austria. In its first session, the group agreed to eight key points, the first of which was, "All public administration will be free under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), meaning it can be reused and shared for any purpose, with only attribution necessary.” Read more.
In New Zealand, the Ministers of Finance and Internal Affairs adopted a statement detailing a new Declaration on Open and Transparent Government that directs, encourages, and invites various departments, state services agencies, and state sector agencies to commit to releasing high value public data actively for re-use, in accordance with the Declaration and Principles, and in accordance with the NZGOAL Review and Release process. Read more.
In Australia, AusGOAL, the nationally endorsed Australian Governments Open Access and Licensing Framework, recommends the suite of CC licenses for copyrighted material and the CC Public Domain Mark for non-copyrighted material. Read more. CC Korea also recently translated the excellent Australia Gov 2.0 Taskforce Report to further open government in their own region.
In other news:
- $20,000 is available via the Open Textbook Challenge by the Saylor Foundation. If a textbook is submitted and accepted for use with Saylor.org's course materials, then the copyright holders receive $20,000 while the referrer receives $250.
- Our affiliates in Europe have published a new dossier on the EU sound recording copyright extension.
- We also filed brief comments for the EC consultation on scientific information in the digital age.
- In response to the Moore Foundation's call for community feedback, we developed this idea on Data Governance. We hope you participate and vote, and not just on our idea — participation in processes like this is a great way to increase their usage by foundations in making funding choices that can benefit the commons.
- The Technical Working Group is underway for the Learning Metadata Resource Initiative (LRMI). EdTechMag recently covered LRMI in this great article. To learn more, sign up for the first in a series of webinars on LRMI.
- We documented the present state of CC licensing options in a summary on CC Labs.
- And we updated our Kickstarter page with a couple new CC licensed projects seeking sustenance. Check it out, and let us know if you are using CC for a project with an upcoming deadline.
In the past few months, the Australasian region has seen several developments building on their commitments to open government.
Last week in New Zealand, the Ministers of Finance and Internal Affairs adopted a statement detailing a new Declaration on Open and Transparent Government. The Declaration has been approved by Cabinet, and directs all Public Service departments, the New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Defence Force, the Parliamentary Counsel Office, and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service; encourages other State Services agencies; and invites State Sector agencies to commit to releasing high value public data actively for re-use, in accordance with the Declaration and Principles, and in accordance with the NZGOAL Review and Release process. More information on this statement can be found at the CC Aotearoa New Zealand blog.
NZGOAL, the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing Framework, is administered by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand, and is a guide for those using the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing Framework, which “recommends the Creative Commons BY licence as a default licence when releasing government held content and data for reuse.” NZGOAL is under a default CC BY license. Success stories of implementation via this framework are documented at opendatastories.org.
Meanwhile, AusGOAL, the Australian Governments Open Access and Licensing Framework is nationally endorsed and administered by the Cross-Jurisdictional Chief Information Officers Committee, and “provides support and guidance to government and related sectors to facilitate open access to publicly funded information.” AusGOAL is also under a default CC BY license, while recommending the suite of CC licenses for copyrighted material and the CC Public Domain Mark for non-copyrighted material.
Much of this has already been roughly documented on our wiki page, Government use of Creative Commons. Please feel free to add to this page any missing use cases or details as they come up.
Lastly, we would like to leave you with another relatively recent development by CC New Zealand — this fun animation video explaining the CC licenses called, Creative Commons Kiwi.Comments Off
For a while now, government data for the City of Vienna has been open for reuse under the CC Attribution license. In a more national effort, the City of Vienna, along with the Chancellor’s Office and the Austrian cities of Linz, Salzburg and Graz, recently coordinated their activities to establish the Cooperation OGD (Open Government Data) Austria. The cooperation aims to “to forge common standards and develop conditions in which OGD can flourish to the benefit of all stakeholders.” In its first session, the group agreed to eight key points, which were reported at the Linz Open Commons blog. The first key point was also highlighted over at the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) blog in English:
“All public administration will be free under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), meaning it can be reused and shared for any purpose, with only attribution necessary.”
This is great news for Austrian PSI and open government in general. By using CC licenses and tools to communicate broad reuse rights to the content, data, and educational materials they create, governments are stimulating economic growth, promoting citizen engagement, and increasing the transparency of government resources and services.
We will be running several sessions on government data and PSI at the CC Global Summit in Warsaw speaking to these themes and engaging CC affiliates and community from around the world. One month after the summit, the OKF will also host Open Government Data Camp 2011 in Warsaw (now open for registration). Don’t worry if you can’t make it to either event, as we will be providing updates to both on our blog. In the meantime, you can find many more examples of CC use in government at creativecommons.org/government.Comments Off
Mike Masnick at Techdirt asks Does It Make Sense For Governments To Make Their Content Creative Commons… Or Fully Public Domain?
Ideally all Public Sector Information (PSI; government content and data) would be in the public domain — not restricted by copyright or any related rights. Masnick points to the U.S. federal government’s good policy:
nearly all works produced by the [U.S.] federal government automatically go into the public domain, and don’t receive any form of copyright
Unfortunately it is not quite that good: works produced for the U.S. federal government, but not directly by federal government employees or officers are covered by copyright — including works acquired, produced by contractors, and funded by grants. Furthermore, works produced by U.S. federal government employees are only unambiguously free of copyright in the U.S., thus cannot be considered in the public domain worldwide. This is not to say that the U.S. federal government policy is not stellar — relative to policies of other levels of government within the U.S., and those of other governments worldwide, it truly is, to the particular and tremendous benefit of the U.S. people and economy. But we live in a globalized and highly interconnected world now, and even that stellar policy could be improved.
This brings us to another question: how to improve policy around PSI? The status of U.S. federal government works is specified in the U.S. Copyright Act. Crown Copyright is specified in the copyright acts of various commonwealth jurisdictions. Similarly many other jurisdictions’ copyright acts specify the status of and any special limitations and exceptions to copyright for government works. Clearly changing a jurisdiction’s copyright act or otherwise changing its default status for PSI (preferably to public domain) would be most powerful. But they aren’t changes anyone can effect relatively quickly and deterministically (historically opening up a copyright act has led to more restrictive copyright).
In the meantime (presumably many years) there’s a tremendous desire to make government more accessible and unlock the value of content and data that is funded, held, and produced by governments — and existing public sector copyright defaults are recognized as a barrier to achieving these benefits. Especially in the last few years, governments have been implementing their own directives aimed to modernize PSI while some government agencies and politicians look to move more quickly within their remits, and activist citizens push to clear barriers to the potential of “open government” or “government 2.0″ with utmost urgency. This is where government use of a standard public license, usually one of the Creative Commons licenses, makes lots of sense. An agency, province, city or other body that holds copyright or funds the creation of copyrighted works can choose to open its or funded content by releasing under one of the Creative Commons licenses, or if they are really progressive, under the CC0 Public Domain Dedication.
Many governments are using CC tools in just these ways, and we expect that many more will in the coming years. That said, if any do manage to change policy defaults for PSI such that more government content and data is automatically in the public domain — we will be cheering all the way. In fact, we already have a tool for marking and tagging works that are in the public domain worldwide. The CC Public Domain Mark is currently applicable to really old works, but it would be lovely if a government were to decide to by law make all of its content unambiguously public domain, worldwide, thus making the CC Public Domain Mark applicable (of course there is no requirement to use the mark; it is just there for people and institutions that wish to use it to signal to humans and machines the public domain status of a work).
A couple caveats. First, whether they ought to or not, many governments like using copyright to control PSI. Sometimes the desire comes from a good place, e.g, to have the information be used in a way so as to not mislead the public, imply endorsement of the government, or imply that other regulations, e.g., privacy, do not apply. CC licenses have mechanisms to address these concerns where relevant (e.g., attribution to original URL, noting adaptation, non-endorsement) and government licensing frameworks (or non-binding guidelines in the case of the public domain) that explain orthogonal rights and responsibilities (e.g., privacy) but do not create incompatible licenses are key to addressing these concerns.
Second, although as noted above, usually use of any CC license would give the public more rights to PSI than they have now. But, licenses with a NonCommercial or NoDerivatives restriction set the bar too low. Clearly to maximize the value of public sector information, business needs to have access, and to maximize the ability of citizens to do interesting things with content, adaptation needs to be permitted. We strongly prefer governments use fully free/open CC tools — the CC0 Public Domain Dedication and CC Attribution (BY) and Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA) licenses. The Definition of Free Cultural Works and Open Knowledge Definition spell out why those tools are preferred in general. We look forward to working with the Open Knowledge Foundation and others to flesh out the specific and even more compelling case for fully free/open PSI.
- Creative Commons and Public Sector Information: Flexible tools to support PSI creators and re-users
- State of Play: Public Sector Information in the United States
- Creative Commons presentation on interoperability and sustainable sharing policy at the Share-PSI.eu workshop on removing the barriers to pan European market for public sector information re-use and all position papers and slides from that workshop.
- The “Licensing” of public sector information paper from LAPSI, the European Thematic Network on Legal Aspects of Public Sector Information.
You are invited to attend a workshop titled Open Government: Open Data, Open Source and Open Standards, organized jointly by Dr. Hanif Rahemtulla, Horizon Digital Economy Research and Puneet Kishor, Creative Commons. The workshop will be held in conjunction with the annual Open Source GIS (OSGIS) Conference on June 21, 2011 in Nottingham, United Kingdom, and will take place at the School of Geography/Centre for Geospatial Science at the University of Nottingham.
This workshop builds on the Law and the GeoWeb workshop held recently at Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA, and will bring together speakers from across industry, research and academia to contribute toward some of the fundamental theoretical and technical questions emerging in the Open Data space (i.e., how to mark up and release open data; licensing models for governments and how to interface them to other open source and commercial licensing regimes; conflicts between data protection and transparency and structuring access to data by different groups).
The following speakers and topics have been confirmed:
- Dr. Peter Mooney, Geotechnologies Research Group, Department of Computer Science, NUI Maynooth (NUIM), Co. Kildare. Ireland. Producing and consuming open data
- Professor David Martin, School of Geography, University of Southampton, Southampton. Mapping the UK population over time: a universe of new possibilities
- Zach Beauvais, Talis. Linked data
- Dr. Chris Parker (GeoVation and Community Propositions) and Ian Holt (Web Services), Ordnance Survey, Southampton. Tackling global challenges through open innovation and geographic information
- Dr. Catherine Souch, Royal Geographical Society. The Open Data revolution and data literacy in higher education
- Dr. Katleen Janssen, Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT (ICRI), Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium. Privacy and legal implications of open data
- Professor Derek McAuley, Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, University of Nottingham. Exercising our rights over information about us
Proceedings of the Redmond and Nottingham workshops along with selected longer papers will be published in a special issue of the open access International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructure Research published by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
For more on Creative Commons and open data, see our wiki.3 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.Comments Off
Qatar’s Supreme Council for Information and Communication Technology, ictQatar, is among the many governments making waves by promoting openness and Creative Commons. During the welcome address at last weekend’s Digitally Open conference in Doha, the ictQATAR’s Secretary General Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber announced that “all future ICT Qatar projects will be open source, and we aim to use these solutions throughout the government. Open Source should be the solution for every government initiative.” She listed a range of domains where openness would benefit Qatari society, including education, medicine, and the arts. “Being open can even be considered a moral obligation. I am excited about the potential this country has,” Dr. Al-Jaber explained.
Governmental bodies around the world are adopting Creative Commons licenses and signaling to their constituencies that these works can be shared in simple, interoperable ways. Just this week, the current Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva released his official photostream under CC BY, while also posting a CC BY-licensed announcement to run for re-election on SoundCloud.
New Zealand recognizes that reuse of government copyright works by individuals and organizations may have significant creative and economic benefit for the country. To harness this potential and enable greater access to public sector works, the enacted NZ Government Open Access and Licensing (NZGOAL) framework standardizes licensing of copyrighted works by State Services agencies by using Creative Commons licenses and recommends the use of ‘no-known rights’ statements for non-copyright material. The Dutch government also demonstrated a great degree of leadership when it instituted CC0 as the default copyright policy of the Dutch national government’s unified website, which contains the websites of all the ministries. All content on www.rijskoverheid.nl is available without restrictions unless noted otherwise.
Creative Commons applauds these initiatives and looks forward to working with key governmental institutions such as ictQatar and others to pioneer further efforts. To foster original Arabic content and improve education and innovation, ictQatar pledged to establish policies that encourage open source solutions in governmental IT and oversee a major national digitization effort to release Arabic-language content under Creative Commons licenses. These are just a number of initiatives agreed upon during the Digitally Open conference as part of a vision to strengthen the voice of the region.
Furthermore, thanks to the generous support of ictQatar, many CC Affiliates and community members traveled to Doha to participate in the second CC Arab World regional meeting. A summary of the meeting will be published shortly, including information about the region’s roadmap and consensus-driven translations of key CC terms into Arabic. You can contribute feedback to the roadmap when published, and importantly, please consider donating today to Creative Commons to support the licensing infrastructure that many governments and other important institutions and creators rely upon.Comments Off
Earlier this month, the Australian federal government issued an official response to the Government 2.0 Taskforce report which recommended, among other things, that Australian Public Sector Information (PSI) should be released under CC BY as default. The response (licensed CC BY) included a commitment to the development of a comprehensive set of IP guidelines which would, in principle, follow the Gov 2.0 Taskforce recommendations. Via CC Australia:
Regarding the Gov 2.0 Recommendations 6.3-6.6, which state that Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) should be the default licence for PSI, the report provides “agreement in principle,” undertaking that the IP Guidelines will not “impede the default open licensing position proposed in recommendation 6.3.”
In fact, the last week has seen the release of three major Federal Government reports – the Budget, the Gov 2.0 response and the NBN Implementation Study – all under CC licences. This seems to be a great indicator that the government really means what it says – open access is going to be the default position for the Australian Federal Government from now on.
This marks an exciting time for the Australian government, as they move towards fulfilling their commitment to openness. For more information, see CC Australia’s post on the matter.Comments Off