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What do you think about Norway’s new open data license?

The following guest post is from Sverre Andreas Lunde-Danbolt who works for the Department for ICT and renewal in the Norwegian Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs, and who is a member of the OKF’s Working Group on Open Government Data

The Norwegian Ministry of Government Administration and Reform have just sent a draft version of a new Norwegian Licence for Open Data (NLOD) on a formal hearing here in Norway (the hearing documents (in Norwegian), and a blog post about the licence and the hearing (also in Norwegian)). After the hearing, we intend to recommend all government agencies in Norway to use this licence when they publish data.

Government agencies publishing data are not always very good at specifying the terms under which the information can be reused. In Norway, at least, the introduction of a new sui generis licence for each new data set has become a predictable exercise. This is confusing to the reuser, adding an uneccessary layer of uncertainty, and, in some cases, even impeding legitimate reuse.

The Ministry has therefore decided to establish one common licence. This will reduce the number of open data licences in Norway (one licence to rule them all). The licence is a rather straightforward attribution licence under Norwegian law. Its main purpose is to enable reuse in Norway, but to make sure data under NLOD can be combined with other data as well as reused internationally, the licence states clearly that it is compatible with Open Government Licence (v1.0), Creative Commons Attribution Licence (generic v1.0, v2.0, v2.5 and unported v3.0), and Open Data Commons Attribution Licence (v 1.0).

The most important details in the licence are the following:

  • Personal data is not covered by the licence. This is the same as in Open Government Licence.
  • The reuser cannot distort the information or use the information to mislead. The NLOD definition of this seems to be less restrictive than the definition used in Open Government Licence.
  • NLOD specifies that the licencor can provide more information on the quality or delivery of data, but that this kind of information is outside the scope of the licence. NLOD only covers the rights to use the information.
  • Information licenced under NLOD will also be licenced under future versions of the licence, provided that the licensor has not explicitly licenced information under v1.0. This gives the Norwegian Government more sway over public sector information, and reduces the chances of data ending up as a kind of orphan works in the future.

What do you think?

4 responses to What do you think about Norway’s new open data license?

  1. Thanks for the post! I originally posted a few comments at: http://www.jordanhatcher.com/2011/norwegian-open-data-license-draft-now-out/

  2. Hi Jordan,

    I saw the comments on your blog, and they are very interesting!

    First of all, the concept “community norm” is intriguing. This is something we will certainly consider after the hearing is over (the hearing deadline is August 10). It has been our objective to make attribution flexible. We’re trying to avoid the situation where a map is rendered useless by overlaying it with the logos and names of all the sources, for example. Rather than naming every single data element that is reused, attribution could happen at an About-page. The general principle should be that it should be pretty easy for someone using a service to be able to find out where the data comes from. Also, under Norwegian copyright law, the author of a work is not allowed to give away his or her right to be named as the source of the work. I don’t know if this is also the case in other countries, but in Norway, at least, and insofar as the data is protected by copyright, attribution is necessary.

    Secondly, the question about “another open data license” is an important one. As I mentioned in the blog post, the main reason to establish a Norwegian licence at all is to reduce the number of licences used in Norway. That being said, the logic behind the “one licence to rule them all”-principle applies just as much internationally as nationally. This is one of the main reasons for mentioning CC and OGL as “contractually compatible licences” at all. And as long as there is no better solution, the Norwegian Government will be monitoring available licences and update the compatibility list as needed (this is also one of the reasons there is a specific clause about new versions of the licence).

    As to a better solution, what do you think about the following idea: If there existed an international Open Government Data Licence that could have somewhat the same role as the unported Creative Commons licence, each government could translate this licence into its own language and adapt it to fit with its own legal system, just as the CC-licences are translated. Are the relevant countries similar enough to create one, standardized licence like this? Would it make sense?

  3. Interesting – definitely a big step forward, but I’m unclear about: * “The reuser cannot distort the information or use the information to mislead.” – Is this defined in a clear, legal way? There is a big grey area between genuine difference of opinion, and the intention to mislead. * Given this restriction, I would assumed that it this license is then incompatible with any CC licenses as none contain such a clause – yet you Sverre) say in your reply above that CC (which CC license do you mean?) is a “contractually compatible licence.” How does this work?

    Thanks

  4. The intention is to clarify that fraudulent use of data is unlawful, and could be seen as nothing more than a reminder. Fraud is already covered by criminal law, after all. Moreover, it is not much different from “ensure that you do not mislead others or misrepresent the Information or its source”, from Open Government Licence. But we’ve already had several comments on this in Norway, and will look into it.

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