Charting Stacks

A Path to Data Enabling the World?

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TL; DR: The Community Data License Agreement from The Linux Foundation marks a significant moment in the licensing of data.

When it comes to data there are two questions which everyone must ask

  • How is the data valued?
  • Can the data be shared, reused and incorporated into new projects or work streams?

As of now true value of data is still very nebulous. We all recognise its basic intrinsic value, but, as my colleague Rachel Stephens recently noted in her work on the possibilities of accounting for data on the balance sheet, without significant changes to accounting regulations it is not currently possible to put a dollar value on data. While we expect this to change over the medium to long term, for now the value of data is considered part of goodwill.

The second question of can data be shared, reused or incorporated into new projects is equally as complex, and no standardised approach exists. Now it should be noted that the Open Database License (ODbL) is already in existence. However, the ODbL does not adequately address the permissive licensing that some users may need. The Community Data License Agreement, announced earlier this week by The Linux Foundation, provides both a sharing (copyleft) and permissive license, under a common guiding framework, which addresses this problem.

We had the opportunity to talk to Jim Zemlin, CEO of The Linux Foundation, earlier this week about the new licenses, and some of the background to the project. Simply put The Linux Foundation would like to help prevent a reoccurrence of the proliferation of licenses that we saw across open source software in the data arena. Ultimately this will help remove friction in the sharing and usage of data – a laudable goal.

It is important to note that the CDLA does not, nor could it, supersede legislation. Legislative requirements will still need to be meet in the country in which the data resides, and the onus will be on both the organisation releasing the data and the people consuming it to ensure it complies with the relevant laws.

Credits: Social Network Analysis Visualisation by Martin Grandjean [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Disclaimer: The Linux Foundation are a RedMonk client.



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