Symposium on Common Use Licensing of Publicly Funded Scientific Data and Publications
Academia Sinica, Taipei, TAIWAN
27 March 2009
The agenda and slide presentations for the symposium in Taiwan may be found here:
This one-day symposium reviewed the rationale, practice, and issues associated with the application of Creative Commons/Science Commons “common use” licenses to scientific literature and data in government and academia, and will explore the possible implementation of such licenses to publicly funded scientific literature and data in Taiwan. It is intended to provide an introduction to a high-level government and academic audience, and to develop some potential follow-up activities in this area. A summary report will be written and published online in Chinese.
Creative Commons licenses already have been successfully applied throughout much of the world to many kinds of creative works, including in Taiwan. Common use licenses are used by authors and publishers to make their works available to the public with only “some rights reserved”, rather than the full rights under legislative intellectual property (IP) law (copyright, in the case of digital information). For example, the author of a song, photograph, or article may wish to make the work available for any use as long as the user: (1) provides attribution to the original author, (2) uses the work for noncommercial purposes only, and (3) makes the work available to others on the same terms (“share alike”). Other options or combinations of them may be selected from a set of such click-on terms on the Creative Commons website (see:
www.creativecommons.org). The resulting common use license has 3 versions: a legally enforceable, “lawyer-readable” version that is written for lawyers; a “human readable” one for the layperson; and a “machine-readable” electronic meta-tag that is embedded in the online file and accompanies the work to all downstream users (it also makes the work searchable through Google or Yahoo! according to its license terms). The licenses are enforced by the legislative copyright law that still applies to the copyrighted work, but that is modulated by the author in a way that promotes greater availability and reuse of the work, but still protects the essential rights reserved by the author through the common use license.
Such licenses are particularly suitable for copyrighted public sector information or academic research information that has little or no market resale value, but potentially substantial socially beneficial re-use value in further research and education. For example, Creative Commons licenses are already widely used by open access scholarly journals and authors of scientific articles (see:
www.sciencecommons.org). Although the application of common-use licenses to copyrighted works is well established, there is substantial uncertainty about the applicability of such licenses to various types of data collections or data products, which may lack sufficient creativity to be automatically protected by copyright. For collections of non-copyrightable data, the Science Commons, a subsidiary of the Creative Commons, recently issued a protocol for data that relies on community practice and norms to apply attribution requirements, but reserves no other rights in the data (see
The seminar will open with a review of the history, concepts, and applications of common-use licensing in the digital context, beginning with the early application of similar licenses to open source software in the 1980s and the more recent development of common use licenses by Creative Commons and Science Commons. This first session will also present an overview of open-source software and Creative Commons licensing in Taiwan.
The initial overview session will be followed by two more focused sessions, one on the applications of common use licenses to the scientific literature and the other to scientific data. The specific licensing mechanisms and their applications will be described, as will the current situation in Taiwan with regard to policy and practice in the publishing of scientific literature.
The meeting will conclude with a panel discussion involving the main speakers and the audience in examining specific questions about the potential applications of common-use licenses to the scientific literature and data in Taiwan.