Open Data Licensing - Making it Clear

Alt Title: What do you mean, Open?!

Manage spatial data at MPCA, Part of team that built Commons

I am data publisher, manager and consumer (perspective)

Co-organize MaptimeMSP

Alan Levine | CC-BY |

Co-organize MaptimeMSP

Today, not representing MN.IT

Even when we say Open, it is not clear


In the context of my org not fully having its act together on this either...


I Am Not A Lawyer


Why open your data?
MetroGIS has a lot of resources

By being open, weather data fuels 10s of $ billion industries

Also look at GPS

"Open data can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose."


Title is "Open Data Licenses"

Let's start with "open"


A contract

Open License vs Copyright

In the US, you get copyright on creative works, but not on 'facts'.
The point at which a collection of facts becomes a creative work is contentious, so it is important to be explicit.

Traditional Use of Licenses

Cost recovery model.

New Approach

For open data, two different vehicles.

MN local governments have liability protection under SS 466.03, Subd. 21 with disclaimer (most are doing first one)

Well known and common simplify for consumer.

MN §466.03, Subd. 21

Local governments are free from civil and tort liability for the electronic geospatial data they produce under state statutes as long as they provide a disclaimer with the data describing its accuracy and origin.

All you need is a disclaimer



What do all of these words have in common? (see on food, personal care)

Why do we need a license, we said that it was open?

No legal definition
We need to be explicit

*This is a completely made up chart!

But, I believe that it reflects reality.

class project vs build a business on

Context, Open status of county data, LEADERS

Only one county found with license.

City of Mpls too

Credit Geoff Maas

Why are organizations opening their data?

Better to have maps,apps, etc using best data

Moyan Brenn | CC-BY 2.0 |


Think about why you are opening your data. (reflect that in license)

If you are considering licenses clauses or restrictions, will you ever actually enforce them?

Common, well known licenses

Open licenses


Run through each one.

Producers may think their data is used by itself, aggregation is reality

Public Domain

Attribution Clause

CC0 (+by) ... enables creativity and reuse, with attribution still maintained by the vast majority of people ... part of a social contract.

Dan Cohen - Digital Public Library of America

Alternative - 'Social or Ethical' attribution CC0 (+by)

"bad actors will do bad things, regardless of license"

also, he underestimated the number of good actors

I think that CC0 (+by) is the best of both worlds: the data in a free-flowing environment that enables creativity and reuse, with attribution still maintained by the vast majority of people who consider themselves part of a social contract. - Dan Cohen

Share-Alike Clause

elycefeliz | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 |


We are learning together on this

Incrementally learning

Not clear, Not open

I wanted to use data for a side project, that was published under this license

Great work by WI

CC0 with icon and link to CC site

Iowa terms of use, pdf from this page

'Public Info'

Social or Ethical attribution request

MN Hero!

Text putting in PD (CC0 would be great to see)

Social or Ethical attribution request

Quite Clear

CC-by-sa with icon and link to CC site

Great work by DC

CC0 with icon and link to CC site

Social or Ethical attribution request

Anne | CC-BY-NC-ND |

This is the start of a conversation and a process.

Think about why the data is being opened, and if the license selection matches those values/purposes.

Consider 'open by default'

Choose clear, well known, open licenses.