1.2 – Legal mechanisms for allowing material to be re-used and re-distributed
1.2.1 – By default re-use requires permission
0 As aid information may be protected by legal rights in many jurisdictions, any third party who wished to reuse or re-distribute either content or data pertaining to international development could be prevented from doing so or face uncertain legal risk.
0 By default, organisations who publish aid information may grant (or deny) permission to reuse their material on a case-by-case basis. This case-specific process is expensive in terms of time and resources for both publishers and prospective re-users. Submitting and processing re-use requests may take up person hours that could be used elsewhere. Also anyone wishing to re-use a collection of material where permission has been sought individually for each item, may themselves have to re-seek permission for each item.
0 For example, say John has sought permission to aggregate, harmonise and re-publish demographic statistics gathered by various NGOs and local authorities. If Sarah wishes to combine and re-publish the same material with material she has collected she will need to ask permission from each rights holder again.
1.2.2 – Using a license or legal tool to facilitate re-use
0 If those publishing aid information wish to allow others to utilise their material without having to ask permission, they can use a license or legal tool which makes permissions, restrictions and conditions of use clear. Organisations can choose to apply a license to their material that clearly allows others to reuse it without asking for further permission.
1.2.3 – ‘Bespoke’ and ‘generic’ licenses and legal tools
0 These licenses and legal tools may be bespoke, drafted for a specific person, project or organisation, or they may be generic, intended to be re-used in a wide variety of contexts 1.
0 On the one hand someone who publishes content or data may include a statement which says what others are allowed and not allowed to do with the material. For example, they may state that anyone can use the material as long as they cite the original authors, or that anyone can use the material but only for particular purposes (for personal use, for educational purposes, and so on).
0 The UK Government’s Click Use PSI License is a bespoke license, specifically drafted to facilitate the re-use of core UK government Public Sector Information (PSI). It is meant to be used for Crown Copyright material from the UK government, and is not intended to be used by other parties.
0 On the other hand there are ‘generic’ licenses and legal tools which are meant to be used by anyone. Creative Commons has developed a set of licenses to help any creator allow others to utilise their works as long as they comply with certain conditions – such as attributing the creator, not using the material for commercial purposes, or sharing any derivative works under the same or a similar license. Open Data Commons has developed a set of legal tools aimed specifically at data.
0 To give an example, Sarah may publish an article she has written under a Creative Commons Attribution license. This allows John to re-use the article in any way he likes as long as he explicitly credits Sarah. Just as important, the CC license allows Fred, after receiving Sarah’s article in John’s use to also re-use Sarah’s article.
0 These generic licenses are now in widespread use by NGOs, media organisations and government agencies as well as individual creators.
1.2.4 – Different kinds of sharing: from accessibility to openness
0 These range from minimally permissive licenses which, for example, simply allow verbatim re-distribution or copying for personal, non-commercial purposes, to fully ‘open’ licenses which impose no restriction on use or reuse other than, perhaps, the requirement to attribute or share back.
0 As well as asserting rights and permitting re-use given certain conditions, creators can alternatively make a statement to the effect that they waive their rights or dedicate material to the public domain – in effect allowing anyone to re-use it with no restrictions whatsoever 2.
0 In order to encourage third parties to re-use and build on content and data, we strongly recommend the use of a license or legal tool which complies with the Open Knowledge Definition. The Definition sets out principles to define ‘openness’ in content and data. It requires that – in addition to access – re-distribution and re-use are permitted.
1.2.5 – Making content and data open
0 As discussed in 1.1, there are different kinds of rights in different materials. Hence different legal mechanisms are required in order to make these materials open.
0 There are licenses designed to be applied to copyrighted content such as the Creative Commons Attribution or Attribution-Sharealike licenses, as well as legal tools meant for data, such as the Public Domain Dedication & Licence (PDDL), the Open Database License (ODbL) or CC0. A comprehensive list of licenses and legal tools for making content and data open can be found at the Open Definition site, as well as a detailed guide to open licensing for both types of material.
1 While publishers can use a bespoke license (as discussed in 1.2.3), we would strongly recommend that publishers use one of a small number of existing open licenses/legal tools intended for widespread use. These would be stable, actively maintained, and interoperable – ensuring material under one license can be combined with material under another.
- Attribution requirement: the requirement that anyone using the material should attribute its creators.
- Sharealike requirement the requirement that anyone using the material should license any derivative works under the same (or similar) license.
|License/legal tool||For content?||For data?||Attribution requirement?||Sharealike requirement|
Creative Commons Attribution
Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike
Public Domain Dedication & License (PDDL)
Open Database License (ODbL)
Creative Commons Zero