[od-discuss] Open Government License - Alberta

Herb Lainchbury herb at dynamic-solutions.com
Sun Jun 9 04:48:41 BST 2013

I am thinking that this technically would meet the definition, however, as
I have mentioned before (
http://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/od-discuss/2012-June/000153.html) , we
continue to see rights clearing issues.

The other thing we are seeing is publishers saying essentially, "here is
some data and this is a license, but we're not telling you if this license
applies to this data, because we don't know if we have the right to
distribute it, or if it's got personal info in it, and if we don't, we are
not taking any responsibility."

It's a bit hard to see how this can be justified, given how copyright is
handled elsewhere.

My analogy:
Some of the music in my collection is creative commons, which means I can
share it with you.  Some of it is not, and some of it I am not too sure
about because I haven't checked.  Imagine I give you the non-shareable
music files with a license that says:

1. You can use this music for any purpose including giving it to others.
2. The music provider (me) is not liable for any errors or omissions in the
music files, and will not under any circumstances be liable for any direct,
indirect, special, incidental, consequential, or other loss, injury or
damage caused by its use or otherwise arising in connection with this
licence or the music files, even if specifically advised of the possibility
of such loss, injury or damage.

I don't think that would protect me.   Why do data publishers think that it
will protect them?

Having said that, the definition doesn't currently require any sort of
rights clearing, or publishers saying specifically what the license applies
to.  I seem to recall someone (Mike?) saying that some versions of CC have
similar clauses that presumably protect the publisher in case they
inadvertently publish someone else's work.   I guess my concern is mainly
that this policy leaves the consumer on their own to figure out if a right
is being infringed, even though they are typically the least equipped to do
so, often having no way to establish the origin of the data.

If the definition was to address this practice of publishing data with a
license that may not apply in some cases I think we would have to come up
with a way to describe that practice so we can add a new conformance
condition.  On the other hand, maybe we should rely on existing copyright
law that prohibits parties from publishing other parties' works without
their permission, and on privacy law which prohibits public bodies from
publishing personal information without consent?  I am not sure there is
anything that one could put in a license that would protect downstream
consumers from publishing errors, except perhaps some form of indemnity,
but I don't really see that happening.

In any case, as it stands, I don't think this license fails any of the
current conditions of the open definition but am still looking.


On Tue, Jun 4, 2013 at 3:57 PM, Mike Linksvayer <ml at gondwanaland.com> wrote:

> On Tue, May 28, 2013 at 1:32 PM, Herb Lainchbury
> <herb at dynamic-solutions.com> wrote:
> > Alberta, one of our Canadian Provinces, just released their open data
> portal
> > today using a license they are calling Version 2.0 of the Open Government
> > License - Alberta.
> >
> > http://data.alberta.ca/licence
> >
> > Would appreciate thoughts from the group.
> Pretty good. But first, "any lawful use", is that necessary? Not
> present in OGL-UK nor in proposed OGL-Canada, and seems superfluous --
> if use is not lawful, user has other problems.
> Second, two comments replicated from
> http://opendefinition.org/2013/01/31/ogl-canada-proposal-feedback/
> * “This Licence does not grant you any right to use: … Information
> subject to other intellectual property rights, including patents and
> trademarks.” This might be placed even more strongly in the exemption
> category if merely stating that no patents are trademark permissions
> are granted, rather than removing any right to use information subject
> to any of these.
> * The complete exclusion of “personal data” raises the issue of
> personal data which is a matter of public record, for instance the
> names of senior officials or the names of Directors in a company
> registry. This is also an issue in OGL-UK. Some of these downstream
> uses may constitute “unfair processing” in terms (in the UK) of the
> Data Protection Act (eg using the data for a junk mailing list), but
> that is a matter for general law not the licence. At the moment the
> licence would seem not to cover any use of personal data such as
> published names.
> Mike

Herb Lainchbury
Dynamic Solutions Inc.
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