21 April 2006 by Ian Davis
Today I published the first public draft of the Talis Community Licence which is going to play a key role in our technology platform. It gives users and contributors of all kinds of platform data some fundamental rights with one important restriction. Basically it…
- Grants the freedom to use the data for any purpose
- Grants the freedom to modify and mix the data
- Grants the freedom to redistribute copies
- Prevents any attempt to deny those freedoms to others
We’re expecting the Talis platform to manage and make available under this licence a huge variety of data ranging from MARC to RDF and everything in-between – that’s 4 decades of data formats!
The licence has its roots in the GPL and includes the same sort of redistribution clauses. So, for example, if you wanted to use any of the data from the Talis platform in your application then you are free to do so. If you want to make that data available to the public then that counts as redistribution and you must licence the output under the Talis Community Licence. Our goal here is not only to preserve the initial pool of freely available data but to expand it by encouraging more and more data to be licenced in the same way. You’re free to sell the data from the platform for any amount, perhaps to cover distribution costs, but you must still issue it under the licence which means that someone who pays your fee can take the data and give it away to others.
Our licence is one of the first to be based on database right rather than copyright. In most countries in the world you cannot assert copyright over facts held in a database but can copyright the database structure and then apply Creative Commons goodness to it. Database right is a different right supported by many countries that enables curators of databases to assert some protection over its entirity. Our licence takes advantage of that to preserve access to data forever.
We don’t want this to remain solely a Talis initiative and we have a small community of experts in this area that we have been consulting with. We’re looking to work with anyone who has similar goals to us in this area and wants to expand this type of licence to cover data from across the spectrum.
I’m expecting this licence to provoke a lot of discussion since it’s new and different from other types of licencing and I think it has huge ramifications for the way data is shared and made available in the long term. The best place to discuss and ask questions is over at the Talis Developer Network. Hope to see you there.