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Re: [govtrack] Public Domain vs CC/Other Licenses

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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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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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