The following guest post is from Jim Michalko, VP in charge of the OCLC Research Library Partnership. Karen Calhoun, former VP of Metadata Applications, who has previously been working on these issues, has recently left OCLC to relocate and begin the first phase of her retirement. She has transitioned her role as OCLC’s spokesperson for record use policy issues to Jim Michalko.
In a recent presentation to OCLC Global Council, OCLC provided some preliminary thoughts on open data licensing of member library catalog data. A number of OCLC members and groups have contacted OCLC staff in recent months asking for OCLC’s views on open data licensing of WorldCat metadata. These tend not to be casual inquiries; many libraries around the world have substantial amounts of metadata derived from WorldCat in their local or group catalogs.
A few libraries, like the University of Michigan, have begun providing MARC21 and/or MARCXML original cataloging records under a Creative Commons CC0 license. OCLC is, of course, paying close attention to these developments. These developments are of particular interest in the context of the recent implementation of a new OCLC record use policy, called WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative. The policy covers not only WorldCat itself, but also the metadata stored in library catalogs whose source was the WorldCat bibliographic database.
The policy is a “code of good practice” founded on the premise that OCLC members value WorldCat as a comprehensive, timely, and accurate reflection of the consolidated holdings of those members. The policy’s intent is to encourage the widespread use and reuse of WorldCat bibliographic data while also supporting the ongoing and long-term viability and utility of WorldCat and of WorldCat-based services such as resource sharing, cataloging, and discovery. To that end, the policy sets out a framework of self-governing behaviors intended to sustain WorldCat, the services based on it, the outcomes those services produce, and the cooperative itself over time.
Essentially, the OCLC policy confers broad rights for members and others to use, reuse, and transfer WorldCat metadata, while asking OCLC members to exercise these rights in the context of some responsibilities. Notably, the policy asks members to abide by the policy, assure awareness of it, make reasonable efforts to attribute the OCLC cooperative when appropriate, and make reasonable efforts to assure that reuse is consistent with the policy’s intent, OCLC member community norms and OCLC’s chartered public purposes.
When a number of inquiries about open data licensing began to arrive some months ago, OCLC closely investigated the open data licenses and best practice guidelines that were available at that time. After looking at many sources, OCLC has gravitated to the Open Data Commons Attribution (ODC-BY) license. The ODC-BY approach in general seems to be a better fit for the type of data in library catalogs than other open licenses. ODC-BY provides for attribution and is compatible with the obligation in section 3.B of WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities asking OCLC members to ensure awareness of the policy. Further, the ODC framework permits a set of Community Norms (in this case, WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities) to be linked with the ODC-BY license. OCLC thinks it is possible to draft an implementable ODC-BY license notice and suggest it to OCLC members wanting to release their library catalogs under an open data license structure that is consistent with WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities.
By contrast, OCLC is concerned about the release of substantive amounts of WorldCat-derived bibliographic data under CC0 and ODC-PDDL licenses. These two licenses are inconsistent with WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities, the community norms it articulates, and the policy’s intent. Specifically, WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities asks OCLC members to exercise their rights with respect to WorldCat-derived bibliographic data in the context of certain responsibilities, such as appropriate attribution and ensuring that subsequent re-use is (a) consistent with OCLC’s public purposes and the policy and (b) supportive of WorldCat’s long-term viability The CC0 and PDDL licenses do not require attribution and place no limits on subsequent re-use of any kind. The CCO and PDDL licenses also explicitly purport to waive all other relevant rights or claims in or to the WorldCat-derived bibliographic data.
OCLC has a preference for ODC-BY and major reservations about PDDL and CC0. This is where OCLC’s thinking is at the moment. OCLC intends to formulate a proposed course of action based on real world requests and then seek additional input from OCLC members and the community of stakeholders around open data licensing and Linked Open Data. Because open data licensing is relatively new and there isn’t a long tradition of best practice to rely on, OCLC has engaged Jordan Hatcher, an attorney with considerable expertise in this area, to consult with OCLC on the broad issues as well as particular use cases.
As many may know, OCLC has been gaining experience with Linked Data. Two examples already in production are VIAF and dewey.info. We are also providing for experimentation with Linked Open Data with a subset of records from WorldCat. As a result, OCLC is part of the community with a keen interest in developing best practices around low-effort/low-barrier implementations of open data licenses (from the point of view of both developers and re-users of the data).
As we continue our work, your comments on this blog post and your messages sent to firstname.lastname@example.org are invited and most welcome.