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Licensing and other legal issues

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment

This post will discuss the licensing issues that have emerged during the project.

In addition to creating new content in the form of Linked Data, this project will be making available the software that was used to process the data. The software will be made available under a GNU General Public Licence.

As for our data, whilst we intend to make it openly available (in keeping with Trenches to Triples’ obligations as a JISC-funded project), we have encountered a number of interesting issues that have prevented us from placing all of our data under one particular licence.

During the course of this project, we have produced nearly 1,500 new index terms, which have been imported into AIM25. As part of the process of marking-up our selected catalogue content, we will be making use of this dataset. We will also be using some of the many other authority records that exist in AIM25-UKAT.

By submitting our data to AIM25-UKAT, we have tacitly accepted that our terms will be licensed in the same way as the rest of AIM25-UKAT’s data. As it happens, the authority records that are held in AIM25-UKAT are currently unlicensed. The founding of AIM25 pre-dates the advent of Creative Commons and Open Data Commons; however, it would appear that AIM25 approves of its data being used for a multitude of research purposes.  The only discernible caveat is the following statement, which appears on the UKAT website:

… UKAT data should not be used for commercial purposes or sold without prior permission from the UKAT project.

This statement expresses the sentiments of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Licence (BY-NC), although it is not, of course, legally binding.

Having incorporated our dataset of authority records into AIM25, we have surrendered the right to license our data separately. This is not necessarily a problem, as AIM25 shares our ideals of openness. However, it does mean that our set of First World War-related terms remains unlicensed.

The main aim of this project has been to make a selection of First World War-related catalogue content available in the form of Linked Data. The catalogues themselves fall under the copyright of King’s College London. Therefore, in order to make our data openly available, we have chosen to apply the Open Data Commons Attribution Licence (ODC-BY) to all of our catalogues. Those who are familiar with the principles of Creative Commons and Open Data Commons will understand that this does not amount to a surrender of copyright; it simply means that we are giving legal consent for the reuse of our data.

We chose the Open Data Commons Attribution Licence after carefully considering a number of licences. Following the guidance offered by Naomi Korn’s and Professor Charles Oppenheim’s Licensing Open Data: a Practical Guide, we looked at the following licences: the Creative Commons Zero Licence (CC0), the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication & Licence (ODC-PDDL), the Open Data Commons Open Database Licence (ODbL), and the Open Data Commons Attribution Licence (ODC-BY).

We decided against using either the Creative Commons Zero licence or the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication & Licence, since both of these licences include no restrictions, and we wanted to ensure that we would be attributed as the creator of our data. The Open Data Commons Open Database Licence is similar to the Open Data Commons Attribution Licence, except that it also stipulates that adaptations of the licensed database must be made available under the same licence – a condition that we regarded as too restrictive. Thus it became apparent that the Open Data Commons Attribution Licence was the most appropriate for our requirements. Each of our catalogues will include a statement confirming that the content has been made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution Licence.

There was some concern that out-of-date versions of our catalogues might be disseminated long after we have updated our catalogues. In an attempt to prevent this from happening, we have opted to include with our licence statement an additional statement, which notifies our users that our catalogues may be updated from time to time, in order to reflect any additional material and/or emergence of new information regarding material.

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