11 December 2012

My Submission: Open Government License - Canada

Here is what I submitted to the comments form for the new Open Government License - Canada.
Thank you for your work on this.  I think you have done a great job on this license.  I would like to make one important suggestion and I thank you for the opportunity to do so.
I would very much like to see Canada's new license be conformant to the Open Definition published and maintained by the Open Knowledge Foundation here : http://www.opendefinition.org/okd/ 
The open definition is an important tool in the open data space.  It assures users of open data that the license associated with the open data they are considering using has undergone some scrutiny by a community of people who know about open data, and it's been deemed open and thus interoperable with other forms of open data released in other jurisdictions.  This interoperability is an important factor in enabling people in various jurisdictions and disciplines to work with data from various sources.  The definition is one to that helps people assure themselves that they have the legal right to do so without having to be legal experts in every jurisdiction whose data they want to use. 
Ultimately, we do open data in the hopes that someone will use our data.  Data is becoming increasingly important in our modern world.  Data literacy is still an evolving skill and part of this effort is also to encourage people to become more data literate and thus expand the pool of people who can work with data.  In a sense, Canada is competing with other jurisdictions for the attention of folks who can work with this data today.  The better job we can do at making it clear and simple that we want people to use our data the more likely they will do so.
My suggestion then is that the clause:
"ensure that you do not use the Information in a way that suggests any official status or that the Information Provider endorses you or your use of the Information;" 
would be better placed in the exemptions section. 
So, as part of the exemptions section it could read:
This Licence does not grant you any right to use the Information in a way that suggests any official status or that the Information Provider endorses you or your use of the Information." 
This would change the clause from a (redundant) restriction on the data being released into a reaffirmation of permissions the license is NOT granting, much like the other exemptions listed. 
I think that the effect would be that the license would be considered conformant to the open definition. 


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