[pd-discuss] Contact between Wikimedia Foundation and Wellcome Trust regarding image collections?
jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Mon Jan 17 10:26:13 GMT 2011
Michael: the main reason for restricting ourselves to material that is
'open' (in the sense articulated on opendefinition.org) is that this
is the main purpose of the Open Knowledge Foundation, as written into
our articles of association. Legally, as an organisation, we are
obliged to have a focus on material that is open in this narrower
sense. We are not called the 'Freely Available Online Foundation'.
This doesn't mean that we don't (e.g. personally) think that its great
to see more non-open but freely available material on the internet for
all to access, but this is not our focus. I think its amazing that
e.g. Project Gutenberg includes material that has been donated by
authors, and great that James Boyle puts his books online (under a
An analogy: imagine we are called the 'Open Source Software
Foundation' and we have a repository of open source software which
others can freely use and reuse. Should we include freeware, shareware
and other non-open software in the repository? Perhaps we should have
something like Ubuntu's 'universe' or 'multiverse' repositories, which
includes software which is not open source (which indeed we do: if you
search for 'public domain' on CKAN, you can see that we include plenty
of - unfortunately - non-open collections of public domain material,
i.e. material in which organisations have asserted full rights in
their digital copies ). Nevertheless we should still retain a focus
on material that is fully open source, as that is the raison d'etre of
Also the OKF is keen to promote policies, practices and legal
mechanisms (such as CC0, and the Creative Commons Public Domain mark)
which enable everyone to use digital copies of public domain works
without restriction. To 'keep the public domain in the public domain',
rather than limiting how it can be used. E.g. so that one could take a
plain text file of a novel that is in the public domain hosted by a
library or an academic department and add it to Project Gutenberg or
Wikimedia Commons. As I mentioned in a previous message, The Public
Domain Manifesto and the Public Domain Charter both articulate this
quite clearly .
Does this make sense? If this thread boils down to 'should the Open
Knowledge Foundation extend its focus to start to *promote* non-open,
publicly available material?' then I'm not sure how far we'll get.
As a compromise, with respect to PublicDomainWorks.net, I suggest that
if and when we start to include links to 'resources' related to a
given work (e.g. a plain text file on Gutenberg, a scan of a
manuscript or an edition, an audio file, etc.) we include information
about the openness of each resource, much like we already do on CKAN.
Hence a work page would include the following rights related
information (note: this would not be the full record, only the
rights/reuse related stuff and enough other information for it to make
1) Name of work (e.g. 'Hamlet')
a) Is the underlying work in the public domain in country X? (e.g.
'yes' in the UK)
b) Where can I find digital copies of this work?
i) Name/origin of resource (e.g. 'The Shakespeare Quartos Archive')
ii) URL (e.g.
iii) Is this resource open? (e.g. Not open, under Creative
Commons Attribution Noncommerical license)
This would mean that we acknowledge non-open material for others to
use, but explicitly flagged it up as not fully open. We could even use
this in conjunction with something like our 'Is It Open Data?' service
 for scientists and others, to start to systematically contact
organisations to clarify the legal status of digitised material, where
there is no explicit statement on this.
All the best,
 cf. http://publicdomainmanifesto.org/ and
On Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 6:24 PM, Michael S. Hart <hart at pglaf.org> wrote:
> On Sun, 16 Jan 2011, Rob Myers wrote:
>> On 01/15/2011 10:27 PM, Michael S. Hart wrote:
>> > I just think that materials released for "all but commercial
>> > applications" should be included in any public domain online
>> > site. . .with the appropriate identification as such. . . .
>> > No reason to leave them out.
>> Other than that they are not public domain.
>> > I should add that thousands of Project Gutenberg files would
>> > have to be eliminated under such a policy as I thought was a
>> > suggestion earlier. . .as they are copyrighted.
>> If they are copyrighted they are not in the public domain and it would be
>> misleading to claim that they are.
>> Project Gutenberg makes no such claim so I don't understand what the
>> problem might be.
>> - Rob.
> Please see my other reply just given.
> It covers similar questions.
> But I still don't understand why you, Rob, want to limit collections.
> Please let us know.
> Thank you,
>> pd-discuss mailing list
>> pd-discuss at lists.okfn.org
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