As mentioned previously on this blog recent developments, particularly the increase in ‘Software as a Service’ approaches, have created the need to think hard about what would constitute an `Free/Open Service’ (as opposed to just plain Free/Open Source software or Free/Open Knowledge).

Following extensive discussion in the last couple of months on the okfn-discuss mailing list (see this thread in particular) with contributions from, among others, Luis Villa, Mike Linksvayer, Saul Albert and Francis Irving, a first draft of an `Open Service Definition‘ has been put together and posted at:

The definition has intentionally been kept simple, and builds in a straightforward way on existing definitions of both the open source and open knowledge / data:

An open service is one:

  1. Whose data is open as defined by the open knowledge definition ( with the exception that where the data is personal in nature the data need only be made available to the user (i.e. the owner of that account).
  2. Whose source code is:
    1. Free/Open Source Software (that is available under a license in the OSI or FSF approved list — see note 3).
    2. Made publicly available.

More details including clarificatory notes on the definition’s main page: (which is currently world editable so as to allow the easy addition of comments and amendments by the community). Important remaining issues to resolve include that of ‘identity’ ownership and to what extent dependencies on external closed services should be permitted.

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Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge.