[License-discuss] OPEN Government Data Act signed into law in US

Sander van der Waal sander.vanderwaal at okfn.org
Thu Jan 17 09:10:27 UTC 2019

*On Wed, 16 Jan 2019 at 16:34, Gil Yehuda via License-discuss
<license-discuss at lists.opensource.org
<license-discuss at lists.opensource.org>> wrote:*

> Sean,
> In trying to parse the legal definition in the sections you mentioned I
> poked around to see if there is a data equivalent to the OSD (
> https://opensource.org/osd-annotated) or FSF's four freedoms to determine
> if the legal text matches it. I came across a few things that seemed to fit
> the bill, such as http://opendefinition.org/od/2.1/en/

Thanks Gil - the Open Definition <http://opendefinition.org/> was initiated
by Open Knowledge International (my employer, aka its previous name Open
Knowledge Foundation or @OKFN <https://twitter.com/okfn>). For those
interested, I'd like to provide more context about the (government) open
data landscape from my perspective and how it aligns with the OSD.

TL;DR: In the open data space we try to learn from OSD best practices and
modeled an approach based on the OSI.

The Open Definition was very much inspired by the OSD and aims to define
openness wrt data and content. At Open Knowledge International we also
helped steward open data licenses under Open Data Commons
<https://opendatacommons.org/licenses/index.html> though they are currently
not actively maintained. The biggest user of these is OpenStreetMap, which
is licensed <https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Licence> under the ODbL v1

The suite of licenses from Creative Commons
<https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/licensing-types-examples/>  is
commonly used as well for data - though according to the Open Definition
those with Non-Commercial or Non-Derivative clauses are not deemed 'Open' -
very much in line with OSD I think - but would love to hear other people's
thoughts on this.

There was a bit of discussion
about the future of Open Data Commons and to what extent Creative Commons
licenses v4 may supersede the need for tailored Open Data licenses.  The
jury is still out on that and feel free to join the discussion there.

Finally, there is a process <http://opendefinition.org/licenses/process/> where
licensors can submit their open data license to have checked whether it
meets the criteria of the Open Definition, and thereby can be called
'open'. Governments have a tendency to want to create their own licenses
and some used this process to ensure it's really open. In the Open
Government Data space we've not managed to convince govs to use the recommended
conformant licenses <http://opendefinition.org/licenses/> to the extent
hoped. We did a research project which shows the risk for legal
incompatibility between datasets published under different licenses,
potentially making reuse more difficult (see report announcement

Feel free to contact me if you'd like to follow up on any of this (off-list
or on-list: don't want to go too much off-topic!)


Sander van der Waal

Head of Programmes  |  @sandervdwaal <https://twitter.com/sandervdwaal>
|   +31615062051

Open Knowledge International <http://okfn.org/>

Empowering through Open Knowledge

http://okfn.org/  |  @okfn <http://twitter.com/OKFN>  |
<https://www.facebook.com/OKFNetwork>Blog <http://blog.okfn.org/>

content I assume is in https://cdla.io/ and imagine there may be content
> about this data.gov (which is down with the US government).
Is there a de facto definition for "open" data that is as generally
> accepted as the one used for open source?
> Also can you elaborate on concerns you have about the text you shared?
> *Gil Yehuda: *I help with external technology engagement
> On Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 5:43 PM Christopher Sean Morrison via
> License-discuss <license-discuss at lists.opensource.org> wrote:
>> Relevant to the recent discussions about Government Open Source issues,
>> the US federal government just signed the Open, Public, Electronic, and
>> Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act into law as part of HR4174
>> (Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act).  More details at
>> https://www.datacoalition.org/open-government-data-act/ and the actual
>> law can be read at
>> https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4174/text (see
>> Title II)
>> For anyone that hasn’t been watching closely, this has been in the works
>> for about 3-4 years now, survived the change of administration and was
>> signed into law yesterday.  It’s related to efforts like code.gov,
>> code.mil, and a handful of executive directives that have been blazing a
>> path towards more Open Source and Open Data from the U.S. federal
>> government.
>> Some of the more salacious bits relevant to this group and open source
>> licensing are the definitions in section 202:
>> “(20) the term ‘open Government data asset’ means a public data asset
>> that is—
>> “(A) machine-readable;
>> “(B) available (or could be made available) in an open format;
>> “(C) not encumbered by restrictions, other than intellectual property
>> rights, including under titles 17 and 35, that would impede the use or
>> reuse of such asset; and
>> “(D) based on an underlying open standard that is maintained by a
>> standards organization;
>> “(21) the term ‘open license’ means a legal guarantee that a data asset
>> is made available—
>> “(A) at no cost to the public; and
>> “(B) with no restrictions on copying, publishing, distributing,
>> transmitting, citing, or adapting such asset;
>> “(22) the term ‘public data asset’ means a data asset, or part thereof,
>> maintained by the Federal Government that has been, or may be, released to
>> the public, including any data asset, or part thereof, subject to
>> disclosure under section 552 of title 5;
>> ---
>> Cheers!
>> Sean
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