Copyright©2008 Antony Williams
ChemSpider has taken some thrashing over the past year. We’ve been hit on science (and proven our point many times), on Open Access versus Free Access statements, on whether or not we have Open Data or not. There has been encouragement to define what the data on our site is in terms of Open Data or not. We’ve adopted Open Data tags on deposited data from users after pressure there. When I’ve asked more about Open Data I have heard that it is not ratified at the same level as Creative Commons licenses and they would be better to use. A week ago we put up Creative Commons Licenses in what I hoped was a GOOD move for the ChemSpider site and would relax the criticism of our site and potentially receive their blessing and support.
We received a blessing for all of 72 hours. In his blog post Peter Murray-Rust was DELIGHTED with our decision to do this. I quote: “I am DELIGHTED to report that Chemspider has adopted a CC-SA licence for its data.” and espoused “PMR: This is wonderful. As far as I know Chemspider is the only commercial chemical information company offering data under this licence, which is completely compatible with the Open Knowledge Definition. (It is also BBB-compliant, though data and publications are different animals).”
I assumed therefore we’d done a good thing. There was no indication to me that our postion was anything other than positive.
There has been a conversation going on in the blogosphere for a couple of weeks now about Strong and Weak Open Access. I’ve read, watched and simply let others share their opinions because they’ve been in Open Access discussions for a number of years and have more context, background and passion to stay engaged in these discussions. They ARE important discussions and will come to a conclusion.
It appears that “I” am confused by Creative Commons licenses. This based on the fact that 72 hours we had done a good thing and got a blessing but 3 days later I read yet another post this time with a comment from John Wilbanks stating “I’d like to see a meaningful discussion of the risks of Share Alike and Attribution on data integration. Chemspider’s move to CC BY SA fits into this discussion nicely – it’s a total violation of the open data protocol we laid out at SC, which says “Don’t Use CC Licenses on Data” – but it does conform inside the broader OKD.”
Uh-oh. ChemSpider is in Total Violation of Creative Commons Licenses. As we say in Wales in times of distress … “Hell’s Bells” (My dad was a builder..if you believe he taught me to curse like that well….)
Peter followed it up with a comment “PMR: I agree with John. Licences are not appropriate for data (and when I applauded Chemspider it was for the motivation rather than the actual mechanism – CC-SA is conformant to the OK definition, but difficult to operate for re-use). That’s why we use the OKF’s OpenData sticker on CrystalEye.” Hmmm…
Again, when I’ve asked about the OpenData sticker I’ve been informed that this is not yet ratified.
There have been many discussions about Openness I’ve been involved with..just one example here. It has been difficult. Openness and licensing remains confusing…see here an example and this is just about a blogsite!
So the question is what now? Do we remove Creative Commons Licenses? Do we adopt Open Data licenses or do we just get ourselves out of the middle of this entire confusing discussion until all is resolved and settled. And IF we remove CC licenses and don’t post other licenses I know we’ll get criticized for that too. But let’s be honest…we’ve been highlighted for NOT having licenses up to this point. Now we are highlighted FOR having them. Maybe we can hope that no press is bad press. I’ll await feedback on this post and make a decision about what to do in the next 48 hours. Blog away…Stumble it!