Getty Images recently announced that it will allow free noncommercial embedding of 35 million of the images in its stock photography database. This is a good step toward better supporting a variety of users. Getty is clearly seeing its images appear across the web anyway, so it’s decided to go down the embed road, similar to how other content providers like YouTube handle the media they host. By requiring embedding, Getty will be able to track where its photos are being used online, and reserves the right to display advertisements. The announcement demonstrates a general understanding that Getty needs to meet users halfway in providing content in ways that is affordable, useable, and aligned with how people wish to share online today. At the same time, users may run into roadblocks in using Getty content, and openly-licensed resources could provide a straightforward alternative.
The Getty terms also state that images “may not be used … for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship…”. The British Journal of Photography, in an interview with Getty Images representative Craig Peters, clarifies Getty’s interpretation of the boundaries of noncommercial use.
Blogs that draw revenues from Google Ads will still be able to use the Getty Images embed player at no cost. “We would not consider this commercial use,” says Peters.
Creative Commons has maintained a static definition of noncommercial use in its licenses over the years (which has earned its share of criticism). In license version 4.0 “NonCommercial means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”
The CC licenses are irrevocable. This means that once you receive material under a CC license, you will always have the right to use it under those license terms, even if the licensor changes his or her mind and stops distributing under the CC license terms.
Finally, the Getty terms prohibit uses “outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer”, which means that you can’t use the Getty images in remixes, videos, or really anywhere that doesn’t use embeds. On the other hand, CC-licensed images permit reuse in any medium. The licenses grant users authorization to exercise their rights under the license “in all media and formats … and to make technical modifications necessary to do so.”
It’s good that Getty Images is providing free online access to millions of images. But the advantages of CC-licensed photos is clear: users can’t have the content pulled out from underneath them, the images can be used for any reason in any format, and in many cases images are licensed for broad reuse and modification. And remember, there’s a huge trove of Creative Commons-licensed images out there too (not to mention millions of photographs in the public domain for use without any restrictions whatsoever!). Flickr now contains over 300 million CC-licensed photos. Wikimedia Commons hosts over 20 million multimedia files (a large proportion which are openly-licensed photographs being used on Wikipedia). Or even check out Google Images or Bing to easily discover CC-licensed images.4 Comments »
Yesterday the European CC Leads have under their regional identity CC Europe responded (PDF) to the ‘Public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules’, run by the EU Commission through its Internal Market and Services Directorate. Like several other groups, the CC Leads have stressed the need for more robust and flexible exceptions and limitations throughout the region, especially regarding transformative uses in general and educational uses in particular. They also urge the EU Commission to find ways for copyright law in Europe to better recognize creator’s wishes to contribute to the ‘voluntary Public Domain’ through legal tools like CC0. They also highlighted once more the fact that CC Licenses are a patch for certain aspects of the copyright system but not a fix that substitutes legislative action. According to the Commission, all responses to the 80 question consultation will be published at some point in the future.Comments Off
Creative Commons would like to invite you to a breakfast discussion “Really Open Education. Domestic Policies for Open Educational Resources”. The event will take place on the 18th of February 2014 and be hosted in the European Parliament by Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, MEP.
The event will highlight open education initiatives currently implemented in European member states, with a particular focus on primary and secondary education. With the event, we would like to draw the attention to the development and use Open Educational Resources as a key aspect of the new “Opening Up Education” initiative.
Invited panelists will present projects that deal with open e-textbooks and supplemental resources, repositories for open resources created by teachers, and policies developed in support of open education initiatives. We aim these examples to support the development of open education in Europe within the scope of current educational initiatives and programs, such as Erasmus+.
Program of the event
Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, MEP
Presentations of country-level activities and key issues related to Open Educational Resources:
- Hans de Four (KlasCement, Belgium): the role of KlasCement, an open educational resources repository, in Belgian education;
- Teresa Nobre (Creative Commons Portugal): legal aspects of Open Education, in the perspective of EU copyright reform;
- Robert Schuwer (UNESCO Chair on OER, Open Universiteit, Netherlands): development of Open Education in the Netherlands;
- Krzysztof Wojewodzic (Centre for Educational Development, Poland): Polish open e-textbooks project and the „Digital School” program.
Presentation of the “Opening Up Education” Initiative:
Ricardo Ferreira (DG Education and Culture, European Commission)
Questions and answers.
The meeting will be moderated by Alek Tarkowski (European Policy Advisor, Creative Commons).
The event will take place on the 18th of February (Tuesday) at 8.15-10.00, in the Members’ Salon, Altiero Spinelli Building, European Parliament.
Please note that badges are needed to enter the European Parliament building. Badges will be handed out to participants at the Place du Luxembourg entrance. Persons with European Parliament badges should enter through the rue Wiertz entrance (closer to the salon).
If you plan attending the event, please RSVP by sending email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: The bill was signed by President Obama January 17, 2014.
Both the U.S. House of Representative and Senate have passed the 2014 omnibus appropriations legislation (2.9 MB PDF). President Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly.
What’s so special about this legislation? Federal agencies with research budgets of at least $100 million per year will be required provide the public with free online access to scholarly articles generated with federal funds no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The agencies affected by the public access provision of the appropriations bill include the Department of Labor, Department of Education, and Department of Health and Human Services (which includes research-intensive sub-agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
According to SPARC, the bill “ensure[s] that $31 billion of the total $60 billion annual U.S. investment in taxpayer-funded research is now openly accessible.”
The inclusion of the public access provision builds upon existing initiatives, such as the NIH Public Access Policy. And it echoes the more recent push for public access to publicly funded research advocated through the introduction of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) and the White House directive. But with FASTR tabled in Congress last year and the federal agencies dragging their feet on complying with Obama’s public access directive (plans were due in August 2013), the passage of the 2014 spending legislation is a welcome measure for increasing access to publicly funded research.
SPARC thinks the language in the bill could be strengthened by adopting a shorter embargo period (e.g. six months), which would benefit the public without harming journal publishers. In addition, they suggest that research articles be shared via a central repository similar to PubMed Central and incorporate provisions to ensure the ability to conduct text and data mining on the entire corpus of federally-funded articles. Creative Commons and other groups have also communicated the need for not only free public access, but also access whereby publicly funded research is made available under open licenses.
Open Access icon was created by Duke Innovation Co-Lab and in the public domain.
U.S. Department of Education seal is in the public domain.
U.S. Department of Labor seal is in the public domain.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seal is in the public domain.
The public domain is the DNA of creativity. Whereby current copyright law requires permission in order to use a work, the public domain is a copyright-free zone whereby anyone can use the work for any purpose without restriction under copyright law. One way works rise into the public domain is when the copyright protection term expires. Over the years, copyright terms have been extended again and again, making it really difficult for creative works to enter the public domain. While most early copyright terms lasted only a few years, a majority of copyright terms today last for the duration of the life of the author + 50-100 years. Increasing copyright terms have stymied creativity, drastically raised the prices of books, and exacerbated the orphan works problem (where authors of works can no longer be located to ask permission to use a work).
But the extremely long term of copyright is not the only problem for the public domain. The contours of copyright law grant certain rights to the author automatically, and without any necessary action from the creator. This seems like a reasonable thing to do for some creators, but it doesn’t support those who simply wish to make their content freely available, or who wish to opt out of copyright in the first place.
Authors should be able to say what they want to do with their creativity. The Creative Commons license suite provides a flexible way for creators to indicate the rights they wish to grant and those they wish to retain. Creators can use the CC licenses, which are a nonexclusive license that relies on existing copyright law for enforceability. And the CC license lasts for as long as the copyright term, after which the work will then be in the public domain. The CC licenses help to lower transaction costs by communicating certain rights in advance. That way, users don’t have to hunt down authors to get their permission to use a work. The permission is granted in advance by the author, so long as the user follows the terms of the license.
Another way for works to enter the public domain is when creators proactively waive their copyrights–they can place works in the public domain before the copyright term is over. Creative Commons has developed the CC0 (read “CC Zero”) Public Domain Dedication tool to allow authors to do this. The CC0 tool is used by authors who want to release all copyrights to their work and fully break down all barriers to downstream reuse.
CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright- or database-protected content to waive those interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.
The CC0 Public Domain Dedication is used widely by creators to waive all copyright and put their content in the worldwide public domain. It is used by open access publisher BioMed Central, who has adopted a policy whereby it now requires that data supporting its published articles be released into the public domain using CC0. Europeana uses CC0 to describe 30 million cultural objects in its massive collection. And even video game creative assets are being released into the public domain under CC0. And there are many more cases where creators and institutions in all fields are releasing their cultural, scientific, and educational works into the public domain.
CC0 allows authors to place their work into the public domain prior to the expiration of the copyright term. But what about works that are already in the public domain, such as really old works where it’s clear that the copyright has expired? To help label those works as already part of the public domain, CC has developed the Public Domain Mark.
[The] Public Domain Mark enables works that are no longer restricted by copyright to be marked as such in a standard and simple way, making them easily discoverable and available to others.
One particularly interesting use of the Public Domain Mark is from Europeana. Whereas Europeana uses the CC0 tool to dedicate to the public domain the metadata that describes cultural works (so anyone can use it to create interesting representations or applications), they use the Public Domain Mark to signal which of the works in their digital collection (e.g. the very old paintings, sculpture, etc.) are in the public domain already because the copyright term has clearly expired. In this way, it’s easy for users to filter the catalog to view works that are already in the public domain and which may be used for any purpose because their copyrights have expired.
Advocacy & policy change
Even with tools making it easier for authors to communicate the rights they want attached (or not) to the works they create, we need to support public policy efforts to increase access to the public domain. One such effort is led by the International Communia Association, whose mission is “to foster, strengthen and enrich the public domain.” Communia originally developed the Public Domain Manifesto (which you can sign here), and also has generated 14 policy recommendations that lay out ways that the public domain should be supported through public policy changes and community action. Recommendations include reducing the term of copyright protection overall, making the process of identifying public domain works simpler by harmonizing rules of copyright duration and territoriality, and mandating that digital reproductions of works in the public domain should also belong to the public domain.
Another way to support the public domain is to highlight and champion community-generated norms. For instance, Creative Commons has been a longtime supporter of the Panton Principles, which advocates that scientific data should be made available in the public domain.
By open data in science we mean that it is freely available on the public internet permitting any user to download, copy, analyse, re-process, pass them to software or use them for any other purpose without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. To this end data related to published science should be explicitly placed in the public domain.
We can also support the development of public domain policies where they make the most sense. Creative Commons and other groups have provided feedback to policy consultations on a variety of areas whereby the public could benefit from the adoption of public domain policies. For example, in the recent consultation in the European Union on public sector information (PSI), we argued that there should be no conditions attached to the re-use of PSI.
The best case scenario would be for public sector information to be in the public domain, exempt from copyright protection altogether by amending national copyright laws. If it’s not possible to pass laws granting positive re-use rights to PSI without copyright attached, public sector bodies should use the CC0 Public Domain Dedication (CC0) to place public data into the worldwide public domain to ensure unrestricted re-use.
In the United States, federal agencies are determining how they will support the President’s Directive requiring public access to federally funded research and data. In addition, the White House itself is trying to figure out how to guide implementation of another Executive Order on open data. We said that any data generated using federal monies should be marked clearly as being in the public domain (possibly using a tool like CC0) and immediately deposited in a scientific data repository. And the US Federal Government has heard from other public domain advocates for government information, who’ve drawn up the Best Practices Language for Making Data “License-Free.”
Building and defending a robust public domain requires work on multiple fronts–from the ongoing development and support of tools that can grow the pool of creative works in the public domain–to the active participation in policy change and copyright reform. While content in the public domain is owned by no one, the responsibility for strengthening this absolutely crucial resource should be shared by all who care about the future of creativity.Comments Off
Over the last year we’ve been working on developing two new projects: the Open Policy Network and the Institute for Open Leadership. Both of these initiatives arise out of a direct identified need from the Creative Commons community. Let’s explain a bit more about each of these projects.
Over the last several years, Creative Commons and related organizations have been contacted by multiple institutions and governments seeking assistance on how to implement open licensing and develop materials and strategies for open policies. By “open policies” we mean policies whereby publicly funded resources are developed and released as openly licensed resources. The $2 billion Department of Labor TAACCCT grant program would be considered an open policy. There is a pressing need to provide support to policymakers so they can successfully create, adopt, and implement open policies. And CC affiliates from around the world have asked for an informational hub where open policies could be shared and discussed.
The open community needs access to existing open policies, legislation, and action plans for how open policies were created, discussed and passed. Advocates need to know what barriers were encountered and how they were overcome, and because politics and opportunities are local, open advocates may need support customizing an open policy solution and strategy. This is why we need the Open Policy Network (OPN).
The mission of the Open Policy Network is to foster the creation, adoption and implementation of open policies and practices that advance the public good by supporting advocates, organizations, and policy makers with information and expertise, and connecting policy opportunities with those who can provide assistance.
Description of activities
The OPN supports the creation, adoption, and implementation of open policies around the world. We will engage in the following activities:
- Connect policy makers and other interested parties to expert open policy advocates and organizations who are able to provide assistance and support when open policy opportunities arise.
- Identify and build new open policy resources and/or services only where capacity and expertise does not currently exist, by providing needed resources, information, and advice.
- Provide a baseline level of assistance for open policy opportunities as they arise, to ensure no open policy opportunity goes unfulfilled.
- Link to, catalog and curate existing and new open policies and open policy resources from around the world.
- Connect open policy advocates and organizations on a listserv and monthly phone conference to maximize knowledge transfer and cooperation.
- Build new constituencies and advocates in support of open policies.
- Operate in a manner respectful of member organizations’ existing messaging, communities, and business models.
- Release all content produced under the project under CC BY and data under CC0, in a fully transparent manner on the project website.
- The adoption of open policies can maximize the return on public investments and promote a global commons of resources for innovative reuse.
- Publicly funded resources should be openly licensed resources.
- Open policies should require, as a default, licenses compliant with the Open Definition, with a preference for open licenses that at most require attribution to the author (such as CC BY) for publicly funded content and no rights reserved (such as CC0) for publicly funded data. We recognize that there may be limited exceptions to the default.
- The OPN is a open network free for anyone to join as long as they agree to contribute and abide by the mission and guiding principles.
- The OPN work is aligned with the recommendations of existing initiatives such as the Budapest Open Access Initiative, Paris Open Educational Resources Declaration, Cape Town Declaration, Panton Principles, and the Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest.
Join this project!
For the time being, the Open Policy Network is being led by Creative Commons, but we envision that the coordination of the Network can be transferred to another group after some time. We are looking for interested individuals and groups to join the network, and we’ll begin monthly organizing conference calls soon. You can sign up to the Google group now.
The Open Policy Network is committed to facilitating adoption of open policies around the world by improving access to resources and expertise for advocates of open policies. Creative Commons will begin to host an Institute for Open Leadership (IOL) to train new leaders in education, science, and public policy fields on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies, and practices. The Institute will be a tangible project under the umbrella of the OPN.
The Institute for Open Leadership will select twenty applicants per year–through a competitive application process–to participate in an intensive weeklong training session with leading experts in open fields. Each participant will develop an outcomes-based plan for a capstone open project, and report on progress within one year. Through training and the project period, participants will develop the skills, relationships, and motivation to become leaders for openness in their institutions and fields. The Institute complements and strengthens the OPN’s mission, and generates open policy projects by training a new corps of leaders ready to inculcate open policies and practices in their institutions and across their professional communities. We will initially run two cohorts of the Institute (2 years), though the goal is to make the Institute an annual event.
Problem meant to solve
There is significant and growing demand for leaders to support open initiatives in educational, cultural, and scientific institutions, as well as governmental agencies. At the organizational level, our capacity to meet this demand is limited. Yet we believe that there is strong potential to transfer and scale leadership experience to new champions for openness, and to systematically cultivate a broad network of leaders to meet the increasing demand. There is also significant interest among discretionary institutional funding programs (such as publicly funded national and state/provincial grants) to learn about and adopt CC licenses. A new and broader group of leaders could address this interest by reaching and educating institutions and professional communities about copyright and the benefits of open licensing and open policies.
As open movements approach mainstream status, there is a vastly increased need for more leaders who share the values of open licensing, the understanding of openness best practices (e.g. open technical formats, modular design, and accessibility standards), and the desire to guide some portion of this ecosystem. The IOL will relieve the strain on existing leaders and resources by recruiting and training a new group of experts who can meet the demand for expertise on open licensing, pursue new opportunities for publishing and using open content, and directly influencing policy decisions in institutions and across fields of work.
Application and selection process
Creative Commons will solicit applications from interested persons around the world to participate in the Institute. We will select a maximum of twenty participants each year for two years. We plan to target persons who are mid-level managers and/or potential leaders who are not currently involved in the open movement, but who are moving toward leadership positions in their institutions or fields of work over the next 5-10 years. The selection criteria will include an evaluation of which candidates the committee estimates will have the highest impact when they return to their home institution/government. All applicants will be required to propose a capstone open project they will complete after attending the IOL. These projects must be properly scoped and must contain a strong open policy component and contribute to increasing openness within their institution and field.
Once selected, participants will be required, prior to attending, to complete any two online School of Open courses (e.g., copyright and open licensing, open education, open science, etc.).
Immersive training period
The IOL will be held at an appropriate conference facility or university campus. All participants and instructors will stay in the same accommodations and spend the majority of time together, creating the potential for informal discussions and relationship building. Institute instructors will be drawn from the top experts/leaders in the fields of open access, open science, open educational resources, open culture, etc. Each day of the week-long workshop will feature a concentration on open licensing and policy in one of the fields and include time for participants to consult directly with the instructors on their own open project plans.
Capstone project work
By the end of the workshop week, participants will have polished and expanded their proposed capstone projects and have integrated open policy aspects more thoroughly based on their newly acquired expertise and the assistance of the instructors. The point of the capstone project is for the participant to transform the concepts learned at the Institute into a practical, actionable, and sustainable initiative within his/her institution. Capstone open projects can take a variety of forms depending on the interests of the participant and the type of institution where the project will be implemented. Common features of a successful capstone open project will be to:
- Increase the amount of openly licensed materials in the commons;
- Increase awareness among colleagues or related stakeholders about the benefits of openness;
- Propose an open policy within the participants’ institution with an action plan to implement the open policy;
- Demonstrate measurable results and complete report after 12 months that analyzes project progress, challenges, and sustainability.
An example of a successful capstone open project might be a librarian at a university that is able to foster an open access policy at their institution whereby university faculty agree to contribute publicly funded research into the university repository under open licenses.
In addition to the written reports (shared under CC BY 4.0), there will also be a webinar scheduled 12 months after the Institute to share the outcomes of each participant’s project. All webinars will continue fostering the development of a new open leadership cohort.
Update June 2014: There’s a new timeline for the Institute for Open Leadership.
- March-May 2014: Cohort #1 application period
- July 2014: Cohort #1 week-long institute
- November 2014-January 2015: Cohort #2 application period
- March 2015: Cohort #2 week-long institute
- July 2015: Cohort #1 12-month follow up webinar & open projects completed
- March 2016: Cohort #2 12-month follow up webinar & open projects completed
We’re excited to get these two exciting initiatives up and running, and we look forward to working with many individuals and organizations to make them a success. Many thanks to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Open Society Foundations for funds to kickstart these projects!Comments Off
In November we released version 4.0 of the Creative Commons license suite, and today the Open Definition Advisory Council approved the CC 4.0 Attribution (BY) and Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA) International licenses as conformant with the Open Definition.
The Open Definition sets out principles that define “openness” in relation to data and content…It can be summed up in the statement that: “A piece of data or content is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.”
Prior versions of Creative Commons BY and BY-SA licenses (1.0 – 3.0, including jurisdiction ports) are also aligned with the Open Definition, as is the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. Here’s the complete list of conformant licenses. None of the Creative Commons NonCommercial or NoDerivatives licenses comply with the Definition.
The Open Definition is an important marker that communicates the fundamental legal conditions that make content and data open, and CC is working on ways to better display which of our licenses conform to the Definition. We appreciate the open and participatory process conducted by the Open Definition Advisory Council in evaluating licenses and providing expert assistance and advice to license stewards. Individuals interested in participating in the Open Definition license review process may join the OD-discuss email list.1 Comment »
Last month, Creative Commons and several other groups responded to the European Commission’s consultation on licensing, datasets and charging for the re-use of public sector information (PSI). See our response here. There were 355 submissions to the questionnaire (spreadsheet download), apparently from all EU Member States except Cyprus. The Commission hosted a hearing (PDF of meeting minutes) on the issue on 25 November.
This week the Commission released a final summary report (PDF) to the consultation. There were several interesting data points from the report concerning licensing. First, the questionnaire respondents preferred a “light-weight approach, limited to a mere disclaimer or consisting of allowing the reuse of data without any particular restrictions…” (pg5). In our submission, we said that there should be no conditions attached to the re-use of public sector information, with the best case scenario being for public sector information to be in the public domain, exempt from copyright protection altogether by amending national copyright laws.
Second, when asked about licensing conditions that would comply with the PSI Directive’s requirement of ‘not unnecessarily restricting possibilities for re-use’, the most respondents indicated support for the requirement to acknowledge the source of data. In our submission we said we believed every condition would be deemed restrictive, since ideally PSI would be removed from the purview of copyright protection through law. At the same time, we realize that if the Commission were to permit public sector bodies to incorporate a limited set of conditions through licensing, then they should be expected to use standard public licenses aligned with the Open Definition. The preference should be for “attribution only” licenses, like CC BY.
The report noted that a majority (62%) of respondents believed that greater interoperability would be best achieved through the use of standard licences. And 71% of respondents said that the adoption of Creative Commons licenses would be the best option to promote interoperability. The report states, “this may be interpreted as both a high awareness of the availability of standard licences and a genuine understanding of their role in ensuring licencing interoperability across jurisdictions” (pg7).
The report also mentions the fact that several respondents chose to provide feedback on which Creative Commons licenses would be deemed suitable for PSI re-use. It noted that the most prevalent licenses mentioned were CC0 and CC BY, while a few respondents suggested BY-SA. Others provided a more general answer, such as “the most open CC license could be used…But [the] BEST OPTION is no use of any of license: public domain” (pg9).
The report concludes (pg16):
There is also a widespread acceptance of the need to offer interoperable solutions, both on the technical and licencing levels. And even if opinions differ as to the exact shape of re-use conditions, the answers show that a general trend towards a more open and interoperable licencing system in Europe, largely based on available standard licences is gaining ground.
This post originally appears on the Communia Association blog. Creative Commons is a founding member and active participant in Communia.
Last week Thursday the European Commission launched its much anticipated public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules. This consultation is the first visible sign of the second track of the Commission’s attempt to modernise the EU rules (the first track consisted of the rather unsuccessful Licenses for Europe stakeholder dialogue). In the words of the Commission the focus of the consultation is on:
… ensuring that the EU copyright regulatory framework stays fit for purpose in the digital environment to support creation and innovation, tap the full potential of the Single Market, foster growth and investment in our economy and promote cultural diversity.
With regards to the contents of the consultation, a first reading reveals a mixed bag of questions, with a surprising amount of them actually touching on issues that are closely related to our own policy recommendations. The consultation comes in the form of a 37 page document with a grand total of 80 questions that cover everything from the functioning of the single market for copyrighted works, linking and browsing, copyright term duration, registration of copyrighted works and exceptions and limitations for cultural heritage institutions, education, research, persons with disabilities and “user generated content”. In addition, there are questions about private copying and levies, the fair remuneration of authors and performers, respect for rights, and even the possibility of a single EU copyright title. Finally there is an open question for everything else that stakeholders might want to tell the Commission.
The deadline for providing answers to all of these questions is the 5th of February, which if one takes into account the upcoming holiday period is rather short. Read More…Comments Off
Creative Commons has responded to the European Commission’s consultation on recommended standard licenses, datasets and charging for the re-use of public sector information (PSI). See our response here. The Commission asked for comments on these issues in light of the adoption of the new Directive on re-use of public sector information. The Directive 1) brings libraries, museums, and archives under the scope of the Directive, 2) provides a positive re-use right to public documents, 3) limits acceptable charging to only marginal costs of reproduction, provision, and dissemination, and 4) reiterates the position that documents can be made available for re-use under open standards and using machine readable formats. CC recognizes the high value of PSI not only for innovation and transparency, but also for scientific, educational and cultural benefit for the entire society.
The Commission has not yet clarified what should be considered a “standard license” for re-use (Article 8). The dangers of license proliferation–which potentially leads to incompatible PSI–is still present. But it’s positive that the Commission is using this consultation to ask specific questions regarding legal aspects of re-use.
Part 3 of the questionnaire deals with licensing issues. One question asks what should be the default option for communicating re-use rights. We believe that there should be no conditions attached to the re-use of public sector information. The best case scenario would be for public sector information to be in the public domain, exempt from copyright protection altogether by amending national copyright laws. If it’s not possible to pass laws granting positive re-use rights to PSI without copyright attached, public sector bodies should use the CC0 Public Domain Dedication (CC0) to place public data into the worldwide public domain to ensure unrestricted re-use.
Another question first states that the Commission prefers the least restrictive re-use regime possible, and asks respondents to choose which condition(s) would be aligned with this goal. Again, we think that every condition would be deemed restrictive, since ideally PSI would be removed from the purview of copyright protection through law or complete dedication of the PSI to the public domain using CC0. If the Commission were to permit public sector bodies to incorporate limited conditions through licensing, then they should be expected to use standard public licenses aligned with the Open Definition (with a preference for “attribution only” licenses). A simple obligation to acknowledge the source of the data could be accomplished by adopting a liberal open license, like CC BY. Such a license would also cover other issues, such as acknowledging that an adaptation has been made or incorporating a waiver of liability. Some of the conditions listed would be detrimental to interoperability of PSI. An obligation not to distort the original meaning or message of public sector data should be deemed unacceptable. Such an obligation destroys compatibility with standard public licenses that uniformly do not contain such a condition. The UK’s Open Government License has already removed this problematic provision when it upgraded from OGL 1.0 to OGL 2.0.
In addition to mentioning CC licensing as a common solution, the questionnaire notes, “several Member States have developed national licenses for re-use of public sector data. In parallel, public sector bodies at all levels sometimes resort to homegrown licensing conditions.” In order to achieve the goals of the Directive and “to promote interoperable conditions for crossborder re-use,” the Commission should consider options that minimize incompatibilities between pools of PSI, which in turn maximize re-use. As far as we are concerned that means that governments should be actively discouraged from developing their own licenses. Instead, they should be encouraged to adopt standard public licenses aligned with the Open Definition. But even better would be to consider removing copyright protection for PSI by amending copyright law or waiving copyright and related rights using CC0.1 Comment »