On November 26th, 2012, the Government of Canada released for comment a proposed new Open Government licence for public feedback. The new licence removes restrictions on the reuse of published Government of Canada information data and aligns with international best practices. We are pleased to report that we received a substantial amount of positive and constructive feedback, both from within Canada and from the international open government community. We are currently revising the licence in light of that feedback.
Comments on the proposed licence came via multiple channels. The feedback form posted with the licence was used frequently. As well, on 11 December 2012, the Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for FedNor, held an interactive discussion on Twitter. The Twitter Chat also generated useful feedback on the licence. Our call for comments also attracted a number of thoughtful blog posts and community discussion through mailing lists.
We have categorized the comments received into a number of broad categories below.
There were a number of general comments on the licence. It should be noted that no comments were received that opposed the direction and intent of the licence.
- "I appreciate that the proposed license is written in ‘plain language’. A mere mortal can actually understand what is expected of them. This is a terrific practice. Bravo!!"
- “The proposed government licensing agreement will help build data capacity for all communities; profit/ non-profit and create the ability to develop new commercial means especially for small organizations … & help aid in economic development.”
- “I like it. Short; to the point; in plain, clear language that identifies what you can and can't do with the data.”
One of the few requirements of the OGL is the need for users of government information to acknowledge the source of that information. The attribution statement section [insert hyperlink to section “You Must …] generated feedback. Some examples include:
- “I feel strongly that your attribution statement is too firm for truly open data. I would much prefer to see a clause similar to Ontario's new open data license. Note the ‘should’ and “where possible’.”
- “The change of the attribution statement from OGL v1.0 to be one specific to the federal government reduces the ability to reuse this license by other jurisdictions (e.g. provinces) and will increase the number of licenses that have to be analysed.”
C. Crown Copyright
The relationship between the Open Government Licence and Crown Copyright also generated a conversation.
- Teresa Scassa, a Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, posted an entry on her blog about the new licence, where she raised issues on a number of subjects including Crown Copyright and the several definitions in the licence.
- The Open Definition mailing list followed up on her post and its contributors made several comments: http://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/od-discuss/2012-December/000233.html
D. Database Rights
The proposed new licence, following the model of the Open Government Licence of the United Kingdom, included mention of database in the definitions section. This generated a number of comments.
- “The definition of information includes database rights. Unlike Europe there is no database directive here and the sole protection is copyright.”
- “Best I can tell, database right is recognized in the EU but not in Canadian law. If that is the case, what definition of database right applies in this [C]anadian context?”
E. Open Definition and Creative Commons Communities
We also received substantial comments from open government licensing advocates, including the Open Definition Advisory Council and Creative Commons Canada. The Open Definition Advisory Council “sets out principles to define ‘openness’ in relation to content and data such that the ‘open’ in open access, data, education, and government remains meaningful and interoperable” http://opendefinition.org/advisory-council/ . The Council discussed our proposed licence and sent us the following comment: http://opendefinition.org/2013/01/31/ogl-canada-proposal-feedback/ .
Creative Commons Canada, an affiliate of Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that releases a variety of different open licenses provided comprehensive comments on our licence that can be reviewed on: http://creativecommons.ca/en/oglc-consultation.