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Public Domain vs CC/Other Licenses

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  • Scott Beardsley
    I m curious about the nature of the data you have/I am collecting. I m pretty sure that most of what I ve collected has been entered into the public domain.
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 21, 2005
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      I'm curious about the nature of the data you have/I am
      collecting. I'm pretty sure that most of what I've
      collected has been entered into the public domain.
      Should I be getting official documentation for this
      assumption?

      What do people think about adding licensing
      restrictions to that processed data or the programs
      used to generate that processed data? I'd like to
      insure the tools that I create are only used for
      "good" (read: Creative Commons). I'm interested in
      generating true public domain data/tools that anyone
      can use, but I know a PD submission is forever and I'm
      afraid I might hurt the cause in the process.

      Maybe as a rule the data should remain in the PD
      (since the point is to give it back to the people) and
      any custom scripts/tools should be licensed CC or
      something similar.

      Thoughts?
      What are Govtrack's data/scripts licensed under?
      Should the license be displayed somewhere?

      Scott



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    • Aaron Huslage
      I think you re right. The raw data is naturally in the public domain unless utherwise noted by the publisher. It s my assumption that since you ve
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 21, 2005
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        I think you're right. The raw data is naturally in the public domain
        unless utherwise noted by the publisher. It's my assumption that since
        you've significantly altered that data, the outputted product is "new"
        and therefore can lie under a new copyright of your choosing. IANAL,
        but it seems intuitive this way. I'd support releasing this under a CC
        license.


        On Fri, 21 Jan 2005 10:32:42 -0800 (PST), Scott Beardsley
        <sc0ttbeardsley@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > I'm curious about the nature of the data you have/I am
        > collecting. I'm pretty sure that most of what I've
        > collected has been entered into the public domain.
        > Should I be getting official documentation for this
        > assumption?
        >
        > What do people think about adding licensing
        > restrictions to that processed data or the programs
        > used to generate that processed data? I'd like to
        > insure the tools that I create are only used for
        > "good" (read: Creative Commons). I'm interested in
        > generating true public domain data/tools that anyone
        > can use, but I know a PD submission is forever and I'm
        > afraid I might hurt the cause in the process.
        >
        > Maybe as a rule the data should remain in the PD
        > (since the point is to give it back to the people) and
        > any custom scripts/tools should be licensed CC or
        > something similar.
        >
        > Thoughts?
        > What are Govtrack's data/scripts licensed under?
        > Should the license be displayed somewhere?
        >
        > Scott
        >
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      • Joshua Tauberer
        ... The text of legislation and the status of legislation are fair game. Official information like that is not copyrighted (in my non-lawyer understanding).
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 21, 2005
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          Scott Beardsley wrote:
          > I'm curious about the nature of the data you have/I am
          > collecting. I'm pretty sure that most of what I've
          > collected has been entered into the public domain.
          > Should I be getting official documentation for this
          > assumption?

          The text of legislation and the status of legislation are fair game.
          Official information like that is not copyrighted (in my non-lawyer
          understanding). Anything else is questionable, but I wouldn't worry
          about it at this point.

          > What do people think about adding licensing
          > restrictions to that processed data or the programs
          > used to generate that processed data?

          I think this should be up to the people collecting and releasing the
          data. I'd encourage having no restrictions or CC licenses of course.
          For programs, GPL-style licenses are also a good idea. Whatever you
          feel comfortable with.

          > What are Govtrack's data/scripts licensed under?
          > Should the license be displayed somewhere?

          The data is marked as being released into the public domain on the
          source data page. I'm not sure if that's legally equivalent to actually
          releasing it into the public domain, but effectively that's what it is.
          The scripts are not publicly accessible anywhere. I don't plan on
          releasing them any time soon, but that could change.

          --
          - Joshua Tauberer

          http://taubz.for.net

          ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
        • Joshua Tauberer
          ... That s not the general rule. Everything is copyrighted by default, with all rights reserved. You need to see a specific I allow you to do this message
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 21, 2005
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            Aaron Huslage wrote:
            > I think you're right. The raw data is naturally in the public domain
            > unless utherwise noted by the publisher.

            That's not the general rule. Everything is copyrighted by default, with
            all rights reserved. You need to see a specific "I allow you to do
            this" message to use anything.

            But, when things become legislation I believe they lose their ability to
            be copyrighted.

            > It's my assumption that since
            > you've significantly altered that data, the outputted product is "new"
            > and therefore can lie under a new copyright of your choosing.

            I'm not sure about that. But if the source is copyrighted, I would
            avoid doing anything with it without permission.

            --
            - Joshua Tauberer

            http://taubz.for.net

            ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
          • Joshua Tauberer
            For those curious, here s what s happening behind the scenes lately. First, a blurb in the New York Times about GovTrack is supposed to appear one of these
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 22, 2005
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              For those curious, here's what's happening behind the scenes lately.

              First, a blurb in the New York Times about GovTrack is supposed to
              appear one of these days. Keep an eye on the Circuits section.

              Secondly, now that GovTrack is pretty much functionally complete, I'm
              shifting my focus to how websites with similar goals as GovTrack can
              share data, collaborate, and generally benefit from each other. This is
              partly what we've been talking about here regarding making the
              California-level data compatible in some sense with GovTrack's data.

              Hopefully in the next few weeks there will be a new website that will be
              a place for a community about this to develop. Once the website is up,
              I'm going to start bringing in other people interested in hacking out an
              RDF data model for political information, and then we'll start to decide
              on the specifics of the data model (e.g. how to assign IDs to politicians).

              And from there, a semantic web of political information could start to
              form. That'll be pretty neat.

              --
              - Joshua Tauberer

              http://taubz.for.net

              ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
            • Scott Beardsley
              ... I think this is very sad but also very true. ... I think our biggest hurdle (with respect to copyright) will be the Legislative Counsel which is
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 24, 2005
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                --- Joshua Tauberer <tauberer@...> wrote:
                > You need to see a specific "I allow you to do
                > this" message to use anything.

                I think this is very sad but also very true.

                > But, when things become legislation I believe they
                > lose their ability to be copyrighted.

                I think our biggest hurdle (with respect to copyright)
                will be the Legislative Counsel which is responsible
                for protecting the legislature from lawsuits. I've
                heard that they can be unreasonable protective of what
                they allow into the public.

                > > It's my assumption that since
                > > you've significantly altered that data, the
                > outputted product is "new"
                > > and therefore can lie under a new copyright of
                > your choosing.

                It'd be interesting to know what "signifiacntly
                altered" really is... Can i just change the case of a
                few words?

                > If the source is copyrighted, I would
                > avoid doing anything with it without permission.

                I agree. So we have to find the grant into PD for all
                our sources.

                Although we could leave it to the end user to track
                what is PD and what isn't I think since we are
                gathering the data we should also provide information
                on licensing or copyrights. Imagine ten years down the
                line with a huge repo of data and no idea what's legal
                and what's not.

                I just was reading about PD (at
                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/):

                "A certifier has taken reasonable steps to verify the
                copyright status of this work. Certifier recognizes
                that his good faith efforts may not shield him from
                liability if in fact the work certified is not in the
                public domain."

                So basically we are obligated to determine the
                licensing status of the content we host.

                From leginfo.ca.gov (maintained by the Leg Counsel at
                http://www.legislature.ca.gov/footer/use_privacy_policy.html):

                "Some of the information presented on this web site
                may be protected by copyright. Permission to use that
                material must be obtained in advance..."

                Scott



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              • Scott Beardsley
                ... Congrats. That s excellent news. I m happy to see mainstream media catching up with what s happening. ... Is this the govshare that I ve been seeing random
                Message 7 of 9 , Jan 24, 2005
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                  --- Joshua Tauberer <tauberer@...> wrote:

                  > First, a blurb in the New York Times about GovTrack
                  > is supposed to appear one of these days.

                  Congrats. That's excellent news. I'm happy to see
                  mainstream media catching up with what's happening.

                  > Hopefully in the next few weeks there will be a new
                  > website that will be
                  > a place for a community about this to develop.

                  Is this the govshare that I've been seeing random
                  places?

                  > Once the website is up,
                  > I'm going to start bringing in other people
                  > interested in hacking out an
                  > RDF data model for political information, and then
                  > we'll start to decide
                  > on the specifics of the data model (e.g. how to
                  > assign IDs to politicians).

                  I don't know much about RDF (yet) but I'd like to be
                  on that list of ppl.

                  > That'll be pretty neat.

                  Who are you kiddin, that'll be f___in AWESOME!





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                • Scott Beardsley
                  I also wanted to add that I think many people (particularly those currently serving as elected officials) may feel threatened by govtrack and its spawn.
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jan 24, 2005
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                    I also wanted to add that I think many people
                    (particularly those currently serving as elected
                    officials) may feel threatened by govtrack and its
                    spawn. Govtrack will bring a shift in the way
                    government operates (from ignorant to informed
                    populus). I think it's important to stay within the
                    boundaries of the existing system until we have enough
                    support and interest to push those boundaries in the
                    people's favor.

                    Scott



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                  • Joshua Tauberer
                    ... I think it s pretty fair. Before the ~1979 changes to copyright law, you had to pay a fee and formally register works with the goverment to obtain a
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jan 24, 2005
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                      Scott Beardsley wrote:
                      >>You need to see a specific "I allow you to do
                      >>this" message to use anything.
                      >
                      > I think this is very sad but also very true.

                      I think it's pretty fair. Before the ~1979 changes to copyright law,
                      you had to pay a fee and formally register works with the goverment to
                      obtain a copyright, which was a somewhat prohibitive process if you're
                      an individual and not a big publisher. So, the fact that everything is
                      automatically copyrighted puts us on the same playing field as the big
                      corporations. There are other aspects of copyright law that I'd agree
                      are sad but true...

                      > It'd be interesting to know what "signifiacntly
                      > altered" really is... Can i just change the case of a
                      > few words?

                      No, but the law is generally vague about this. The only way to know if
                      it's a legitimate action is if you're sued and ultimately found not
                      guilty. Not a great way to find out.

                      >>If the source is copyrighted, I would
                      >>avoid doing anything with it without permission.
                      >
                      > I agree. So we have to find the grant into PD for all
                      > our sources.

                      Except legislation (I'll go looking for some precedent about this at
                      some point, but I'm pretty sure it's already been tested in court) and
                      the status of legislation (which are facts and, IMO, not copyrightable
                      in the first place). For these things, I really wouldn't worry about
                      it. If you're gathering other types of data, it's more of a concern.
                      (Are you gathering other things?)

                      > Imagine ten years down the
                      > line with a huge repo of data and no idea what's legal
                      > and what's not.

                      Agreed.

                      > So basically we are obligated to determine the
                      > licensing status of the content we host.

                      Most definitely.

                      >>First, a blurb in the New York Times about GovTrack
                      >>> is supposed to appear one of these days.
                      >
                      > Congrats. That's excellent news. I'm happy to see
                      > mainstream media catching up with what's happening.

                      Well, hold the congrats till we actually see it in print. :)

                      >>Hopefully in the next few weeks there will be a new
                      >>> website that will be
                      >>> a place for a community about this to develop.
                      >
                      > Is this the govshare that I've been seeing random
                      > places?

                      In the preliminary RDF files. That was my original idea, but that may
                      not pan out. We'll see.

                      > I also wanted to add that I think many people
                      > (particularly those currently serving as elected
                      > officials) may feel threatened by govtrack and its
                      > spawn.

                      Excellent! :)

                      --
                      - Joshua Tauberer

                      http://taubz.for.net

                      ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
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