Jeanne Holm, evangelist, invited the World Wide Web eGovernment Community to a conference call presentation and discussion this yesterday on Creative Commons licensing of open government data (OGD) and services.

Creative Commons licensing addresses issues surrounding credit to contributors, that there is no endorsement and no misrepresentation. It can get rather complicated to the non-lawyer. But this video clip helps put it into perspective.

The expert speakers were Dr. Anne Fitzgerald, University of Queensland, and Sarah Pearson and team, Creative Commons, and a detailed chat log was keep and is made available afterwards.

The event prompted me to ask two questions beforehand: Are we having these presentations and discussion because there is consideration being given to licensing OGD to protect it (and if so, from what?); or allow someone to make money off of it (to which I’d say, really?); or some other reason?

I received two responses I wanted to share:

1. Actually I think the discussion is an to attempt to avoid errors in such licensing, or related Intellectual Property Rights that would preclude use in an open manner.

2. More fundamental than that – the eGov community needs a clear understanding of:

  • What legal mechanisms (and precedents) are available and/or required to declare “Open” data?
  • What technical mechanisms (vocabulary, markup methodologies) are available and/or required to assert such terms to machines and people? There is no “Linked Open Data” without the “O,” stated clearly. Providers’ claims must be legally valid, unambiguous, and accessible by both people and machines.

I thought these response were more helpful than what I heard during the actual conference call, which was primarily from a lawyer working on Open Government Data in Colorado which seemed to go over the heads of the others.

In the U.S. Government, there is no copyright ascribed in data, but there is a clear policy framework prescribed by the U.S. OMB in Circular A-130 Revised.

One can learn more about Creative Commons at their web site.

I do not see the need to have Creative Commons licensing of government data and services in the United States given our copyright laws and OMB policies.