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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Licencing is key to open data, because if you are looking to use open data, unless you know what– well that it’s open– and what you can use it for. It can be very, very difficult to operationalise it. How important is licencing? Licencing is absolutely critical in open data. One of the biggest fallacies on the web is that just because something is on the web, I can use it. That’s not true, that’s simply not true. There is still a lot of content on the web that is copyrighted. For example, the biggest one that exists out there that is intended to be a lot of people trying to use is Twitter.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds Actually the copyright of a tweet, the ownership of a tweet, is yours. So when you tweet something, it’s your intellectual property. You own it, you are responsible for it. And you do grant, because you’re using Twitter’s platform, you grant them a royalty-free licence to use it for whatever they like. But at the same time, you don’t grant that to other people, so they can’t gather your tweet. So just because something is on the web, doesn’t mean you can use it. And this is where licencing is so key to open data. Licences provide that clarity that this piece of data, this piece of content, you’re available to use.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 seconds So you can have the intent to make some data open, but then people just simply can’t use it if it’s not properly licenced? Yeah, there are a good number of open data portals out there that even say the words open data on the bottom of them, but then you read the terms of use at the bottom and you find it’s copyright, all rights reserved. Which means you can’t do anything with it. But interestingly, there is a download link, but at the bottom in the terms and conditions, it says you are not permitted to download, transmit, or copy the information. But there’s a download button. So even for the publishers who are saying we do open data, it’s conflicting.

Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds Because they’ve got a standard bit at the bottom of the web site, which says copyright all rights reserved. But the top of the website, in the title of the page you’re on, says open data. So without a licence that says, this is open data you are permitted to use, reuse, share it with others, you can’t even put a commercial licence on it. So it must be even available for commercial, otherwise we don’t have these economic benefits that come from other businesses using it. So open data has to be available to exploited commercially.

Checking licensing

How open is Open Data? Data may accessible on the internet, but that doesn’t mean it can be used for any purpose.

Even Open Data sources are subject to rules and restrictions that govern how it can be used. Sometimes you can use Open Data freely, but other times there may be restrictions that limit commercial use, for example. The best way to find out how you can use Open Data, is to check its licensing.

Let’s hear what Dr Dave Tarrant from the ODI has to say about the importance of Open Data licensing…

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Using Open Data for Digital Business

Royal Holloway, University of London

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