[open-bibliography] WorldCat API and Licensing

Adrian Pohl adrian.pohl at okfn.org
Tue Jan 11 09:11:34 GMT 2011

As Peter says this is an important discussion and I think the OKFN's
Open Knowledge definition[1] takes the right stand by denying NC
licenses the status of openness. Instead of repeating the arguments I
provide a list of three posts on this topic worth reading:

* The "classical" text on this topic by Erik Möller ""The Case for
Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons -NC License":

* A post by Rufus named "Why Share-Alike Licenses are Open but
Non-Commercial Ones Aren’t":

* The article "CBC decision highlights Creative Commons
drawbacks"shows how CC-NC licenses even cause someone not to use CC
licensed works at all:


[1] http://www.opendefinition.org/okd/

2011/1/11 Peter Murray-Rust <pm286 at cam.ac.uk>:
> The NC versus non-NC argument is an important one and will continue for a
> long time. I can see that there are areas where NC is a useful pragmatic way
> forward. We've been having these discussions with a publisher who - after
> several years - has allowed <0.1% of its corpus to be made available for us
> as training data to support our text-mining software (which is
> OSI-licensed). That means that if we use the data for training our software
> we cannot licence the data as compatible with OSI (F/OSS). We cannot
> distribute our software unless we say - "you can't train this software if
> you are a commercial entity" - you cxan use it but not develop your own
> models using this corpus. We've argued with the publisher but we are stuck
> on this. So we cannot distribute the training data.
> The same would be true of bibliographic data. Suppose I wanted to develop
> machine-learning on bibliographic data  - something I may well wish to do.
> The NC makes it not compatible with F/OSS.
> There is a huge friction associated with negotations. Many rights holders
> don't reply, many set additonal restrictions. We've spent 15 months with a
> publisher whos has said "yes, we can text mine their data" as long as all
> the results belong to them and we don't publish any of our work. Wasted huge
> amounts of our time. By contrast I can use OKD - F/OSS material without
> spending more than a minute or so looking at the licence.
> On Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 1:41 AM, Jim Pitman <pitman at stat.berkeley.edu>
> wrote:
>> Peter Murray-Rust <pm286 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:
>> > I'd agree with what Tom says. There may or may not be uses for
>> > NC-bibliography but it cannot be included in Open Bibliography as we are
>> > using it. The increasing availability ofg NC may help change the culture
>> > but
>> > at the bottom we have to have complete Openness.
>> I dont see why an NC clause significantly inhibits free exchange of
>>  bibliographic data.
>> That is enough for my purposes. Generally, I see the arguments against NC
>> as greatly overstated.
>> There are an increasing number of agents who seem to be willing to
>> tolerate NC, so I think it is
>> important to take them at their word and demonstrate significant NC
>> applications of their data.
> I have no objection to anyone using NC if it works in their field of
> endeavour and they are able to work with agents who tolerate NC. But it
> doesn't extend to OKF activities any more than it extends to GNU/FSF. There
> are NC software licences but they don't work with any OSI-software.
>> Also, just because some component of bib data I use comes with an NC
>> clause does not seem to prevent
>> me from saying my contribution is CC0. I claim no additional copyright
>> layer, I declare where my
>> data come from and who has checked them, and move on to other things.
>> Others can do whatever they
>> want with the data.  What is wrong with this picture?
> We believe - and we are going ahead with the pragmatics - that individual
> data are not copyrightable. Thus if you or I wil our own efforts create a
> bibliographica datum that's fine. If, however we get 100,000 entries from a
> supplier who puts non-OKF restrictions on them we cannot extract the items
> from that set. The supplier can - and as you and others hint - probably will
> challenge that.
>> > We assert that individual bibliographic components are Open so that we
>> > can
>> > reasonably show that we have not taken them from someone else's
>> > collection.
> The issue is about taking them from a collection. I don't believe that there
> is any practice of licensing individual data.  If there is then we simply
> get the datum from another source.
>> I dont see how "we" can make individual bibliographic components Open by
>> saying they are.
>> Either they are by law, or they aren't, and some copyright ownner, not us,
>> can make them so.
> It is our belief that individual items are not copyrightable any more than -
> say - a street sign or a postcode are copyrightable. Open Streetmap goes
> round roads and records the names of streets. They are scrupulously careful
> not to take them off copyrighted maps.
>> > Since most of these are normalizable data then once we have got them,
>> > they act as a permanent record.
>> OK
>> > If we take them from NC collections then they contaminate the rest of
>> > our Open collection.
>> So what? Why is that so bad? I just dont get the virulence of the argument
>> against NC. What I do see is there
>> are a large number of major biblio data providers in the article space
>> where I think I could fairly easily persuade
>> them to provide data NC, by arguing e.g. the OCLC has already done so, its
>> the emerging standard, .... but it
>> may be very tough to get a full CC0 declaration from these sources. I'm
>> willing to try, but I'm not going to
>> spend a lot of hours on this. I'd rather spend the hours doing creative
>> processing of data I can get hold of with NC.
> that's fine and we aren't stopping you. Were simply making it clear that it
> can't be part of OKF's Open Bibliography.
>> > I am optimistic that as we get momentum then there are enough
>> > OKD-compliant data that we can build the mass of Open Bibliography quite
>> > quickly.
>> I agree with this  in the Book biblio space, but not in the Article space.
>> I think the vested interests which hold most of the article data,
>> which are not the libraries but the publishers  and A&I services, may be
>> too entrenched  to yield this data easily. Certainly, I see great
>> resistance in the field of mathematics.
> This in a sense is the point. There are major interests at stake. Any
> negotiation is (a) costly in time (b) usually unclear (c) often fails.
> I'm going to be pragmatic - I have to concentrate my energies on Launching
> Open Bibliographic Principles on Monday. I hope the authors will be present
> virtually.
> P.
> --
> Peter Murray-Rust
> Reader in Molecular Informatics
> Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
> University of Cambridge
> CB2 1EW, UK
> +44-1223-763069
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