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Holes spotted in open government licence.

Information providers and groups that want to create new information products using public sector data should find it much easier following the launch of the UK Open Government licence. Operated by The National Archives, the licence claims to "remove the existing barriers to reusing information".

Working in parallel with other licensing models such as Creative Commons (CC) and Open Data Commons, the machine-readable licence has been welcomed by open government champion Tim Berners-Lee. "It's great to see a simple and straightforward licence for people to reuse government data in any way they want," he said.

Replacing Click-Use, Open Government covers a much broader range of information, including Crown copyright, databases and source codes. It doesn't require registration or formal application for permission to reuse information.

But, while recognising its general benefits, intellectual property consultant Naomi Korn raised concerns. Because Open Government tries to cover data and content of all kinds, it does not provide the granularity offered by other open licensing models, she told IWR.

"It is unclear if any of the terms of the licence can be overridden by other licensing terms" she added. Nor does Open Government cover moral rights, as the other two models do.

Of particular concern is the risk that the licencee might be liable for inadvertent use of third-party material embedded within the licensed content.

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Author:Owen, Tim Buckley
Publication:Information World Review
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2010
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