Friday 28 March 2014

“Science, Data and Creative Commons”

Puneet Kishor with Darius Whelan and Louise Crowley
Picture:  Pat Rice 
At a recent Creative Commons Ireland talk, hosted by the UCC Faculty of Law, Puneet Kishor spoke on the topic of “Science, Data and Creative Commons” (click here to see the talk in full). Mr Kishor is manager of Science and Data Policy at Creative Commons (CC) in Mountain View California where he works on all aspects of the scientific information lifecycle to make it systemically open and collaborative.

The talk began with a brief introduction to CC for those who were unfamiliar. Mr Kishor outlined the vision of CC for the attendees namely; “Our vision is nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity”, and explained the “open by default” vision for CC over the course of the next 10 years. In outlining CC Mr Kishor explained that CC is in fact based on copyright. He stated that the 6 licenses lie somewhere in between ‘no rights at all’ and ‘all rights reserved’ and give users permission based on certain conditions. As to where exactly on the spectrum it falls depends on the combination of the “building blocks of licenses” used that CC has created. The three layers of the licenses were then outlined. From the perspective of the human observer CC can be seen through the various badges which visually  represent the licences. However, there is also the machine readable html code and tags as well as the associated legal code. Mr Kishor ended this section of the talk by stating that his own personal philosophy on CC is that it is “not just tweaking the law it is also tweaking the culture of sharing.” Essentially, he opined that the CC licences are part of a fundamental change in the way that society thinks about sharing.

In the second part of the lecture Mr Kishor discussed the latest version of the CC licences which were launched in November 2013. This new version took approximately two and half years to develop and are a product of crowdsourced consultation. The uptake of CC licenses was then explored with the speaker coming to the conclusion that there is no good way of measuring their use but that when platforms incorporate licenses their uptake increases dramatically. However, it was made clear that this use is indeed extensive (over 305 million licenses on Flickr alone was a standout statistic). A key development introduced by the CC 4.0 licenses was that the licenses are now finally appropriate for data sets. More specifically; “‘Makers’ of databases can use CC licenses to license sui generis database rights (SGDR).” As an explanation Mr Kishor summarised that; “This means that if you see a CC license on a database, you know how you may use the database without worrying about what jurisdiction you are using the database in or where the database was created.”   

In the third part of the talk Mr Kishor outlined some key elements and concepts behind the CC structure. He outlined the nature of the license and stated that one can only license rights which one holds. Mr Kishor further distinguished the concept of a license from that of a contract and concluded that a key point is that contract remedies do not apply. Interestingly he also observed that; “A license is a signal to the good folks, a guide to the unsure, and meaningless to the bad folks” and also noted that less open licenses do not necessarily do what would be expected. As a final point in this section Mr Kishor also noted that when using several differently licensed works in a new work, all individual pieces must be marked individually. This requirement presents obvious challenges however, until there is one standardised license it will be necessary.

In the final part of the seminar Mr Kishor outlined his work as head of the science programme. He highlighted the increasing popularity of text and data mining because of increased computer power. Mr Kishor expressed his plans regarding the setting up of various workshops to discuss the practicalities and legal intricacies of text and data mining. This area is clearly dominated by a tension between privacy and openness. The speaker proffered that instead of focusing on the importance of protecting privacy the benefits of openness could be communicated and that thus access to information could be granted through informed consent. This raised an interesting issue in relation to the use of personal data for a public good and hence the finding of an appropriate balance. 

To end the talk Mr Kishor expressed his desire to establish a network of scientists to increase awareness and to involve the scientific community in CC. He expressed his wish to appeal to the developing countries as the open science and open data movements are dominated by developed countries. The idea behind this move is that by involving scientists they may become advocates and hopefully may be able to make a constructive difference in the structures around scientific funding. The lecture ended with an interesting Q&A session that involved some thought provoking debate.  

Damian Clifford (UCC Student - LLM IP and E-Law)

No comments: