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Licensing of Linked Data

The ways in which resources comprising the Linked Data Cloud are currently licensed

As part of a workshop at this year’s International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC), former colleague Leigh Dodds prepared an interesting diagram on the ways in which resources comprising the Linked Data Cloud are currently licensed.

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For various reasons, I was unable to make it to Virginia for the event, but a scan through the presentations from Leigh, Tom Heath (another former colleague), Jordan Hatcher (with whom I worked on earlier iterations of the Open Data Commons license), and Creative Commons‘ Kaitlin Thaney, it looks like they did a great job covering the bases on this critically important aspect of the evolving Data Web.

If we are to encourage the sorts of break-out use of data that Tim Berners-Lee and Tim O’Reilly were discussing at last week’s Web 2.0 Summit, we need to move past the current laissez-faire approaches adopted by too many and ensure that there are licensing regimes in place to enable, facilitate and encourage widespread re-use.

As Leigh’s work demonstrates, we have a long way to go. Only around a third of the current Linked Data projects are explicitly licensing their content, and several of those may be mis-licensing by applying copyright-based licenses such as those from Creative Commons to data not covered by copyright legislation.

With the current state of data licensing, and the reliance of CC0 and Open Data Commons’ Public Domain Dedication and License upon the public domain as a means of overcoming territorial differences, will we find enterprise use of Linked Data increasingly relying upon the more cumbersome tool of contract law… to the detriment of a free and flexible exchange of ideas?

Linked Open Data Rights Survey‘ image by Leigh Dodds, shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database. He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.