open [English]

Syndetic Relationships

InterPARES Definition

adj. ~ 1. Available and accessible for use due to an absence of restrictions. – 2. Available and accessible for use as the result of license.

General Notes

While the term 'license' often suggests restrictions, some, such as Creative Commons licenses, are designed to be permissive. Open Knowledge International's definition of 'open' stresses "a robust commons in which anyone may participate, and interoperability is maximized" noting "knowledge is open if anyone is free to access, use, modify, and share it – subject, at most, to measures that preserve provenance and openness" (Open Knowledge International, 2014).


  • Barns 2013 (†356 ): "It’s hard not to get excited by the promise of a more enriched and open digital ecosystem that makes the way we digitally interact with governments a whole lot better. But as we stand at the cusp of this open data-driven transformation, we should also take a deep breath and consider how “openness” is being used to drive public sector change. ¶ ...One of the problems with the way “openness” is treated in the Gov 2.0 agenda is that it’s never quite clear whether “open” is a means or an end. ¶ If it’s a means to an end – for example, the interoperability and therefore resilience of software systems – then clearly this is not the same openness as government transparency, and will have little effect on the process of reducing government secrecy or corruption. ¶ An “openness” that lets digital entrepreneurs manage the design and delivery of government services may improve usability, but it’s also a radical revisioning of the role of the public sector – a shift towards what Irish tech guru Tim O’Reilly coined “Government as Platform”, or what others might simply call “privatisation”. ¶ If the “open government” agenda has more ambitious goals like government transparency and democratic participation, then this will require more than a healthy digital ecosystem. Opening up data alone does not necessarily equate to citizen engagement, appified or otherwise. (†343)
  • James 2013 (†520 ): Open can apply to information from any source and about any topic. Anyone can release their data under an open license for free use by and benefit to the public. Although we may think mostly about government and public sector bodies releasing public information such as budgets or maps, or researchers sharing their results data and publications, any organisation can open information (corporations, universities, NGOs, startups, charities, community groups and individuals). . . . ¶ There are 2 important elements to openness: · Legal openness: you must be allowed to get the data legally, to build on it, and to share it. Legal openness is usually provided by applying an appropriate (open) license which allows for free access to and reuse of the data, or by placing data into the public domain. · Technical openness: there should be no technical barriers to using that data. For example, providing data as printouts on paper (or as tables in PDF documents) makes the information extremely difficult to work with. So the Open Definition has various requirements for “technical openness,” such as requiring that data be machine readable and available in bulk. (†815)
  • Jee 2013 (†354 ): "[Jeni] Tennison [technical director of the Open Data Institute] explains that ‘opening up’ technology is crucial if the government is to succeed in its plans to reform technology and break away from a reliance on a small pool of suppliers. ¶ She says, “What I think is really interesting here is how open source, open standards and open data all come together to support the same agenda. Government doesn’t want to be locked into massive IT contracts with a small set of suppliers. “Open" helps because when you have open data being published then you have a level playing field about what people know. When you have open standards being used then you have a level playing field about what tools can be used. And when you have open source established you have a level playing field about really just getting started with using that data and using those standards. ¶ …[The] other thing that you have to be extremely careful about within government is ‘open-washing’ that sometimes goes on. So, for example, you will get an API that is described as an ‘open API’ where in fact it doesn’t mean that the data is open data or using an open standard. The underlying standard that is used is open but the actual language, the vocabulary itself, is developed by one company and only one company uses it." " (†341)
  • Open Data Institute 2013 (†331 ): Open data is information that is available for anyone to use, for any purpose, at no cost.¶ Open data has to have a licence that says it is open data. Without a license, the data can’t be reused (†850)
  • Open Definition (†350 ): A work is open if its manner of distribution satisfies the following conditions: 1. Access The work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably downloading via the Internet without charge. The work must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form. Comment: This can be summarized as ‘social’ openness – not only are you allowed to get the work but you can get it. ‘As a whole’ prevents the limitation of access by indirect means, for example by only allowing access to a few items of a database at a time (material should be available in bulk as necessary). Convenient and modifiable means that material should be machine readable (rather than, for example, just human readable). 2. Redistribution The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the work either on its own or as part of a package made from works from many different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale or distribution. 3. Reuse The license must allow for modifications and derivative works and must allow them to be distributed under the terms of the original work. Comment: Note that this clause does not prevent the use of ‘viral’ or share-alike licenses that require redistribution of modifications under the same terms as the original. 4. Absence of Technological Restriction The work must be provided in such a form that there are no technological obstacles to the performance of the above activities. This can be achieved by the provision of the work in an open data format, i.e. one whose specification is publicly and freely available and which places no restrictions monetary or otherwise upon its use. 5. Attribution The license may require as a condition for redistribution and re-use the attribution of the contributors and creators to the work. If this condition is imposed it must not be onerous. For example if attribution is required a list of those requiring attribution should accompany the work. 6. Integrity The license may require as a condition for the work being distributed in modified form that the resulting work carry a different name or version number from the original work. 7. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons. Comment: In order to get the maximum benefit from the process, the maximum diversity of persons and groups should be equally eligible to contribute to open knowledge. Therefore we forbid any open-knowledge license from locking anybody out of the process. Comment: this is taken directly from item 5 of the OSD. 8. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the work in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the work from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research. Comment: The major intention of this clause is to prohibit license traps that prevent open material from being used commercially. We want commercial users to join our community, not feel excluded from it. Comment: this is taken directly from item 6 of the OSD. 9. Distribution of License The rights attached to the work must apply to all to whom it is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties. Comment: This clause is intended to forbid closing up knowledge by indirect means such as requiring a non-disclosure agreement. Comment: this is taken directly from item 7 of the OSD. 10. License Must Not Be Specific to a Package The rights attached to the work must not depend on the work being part of a particular package. If the work is extracted from that package and used or distributed within the terms of the work’s license, all parties to whom the work is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original package. Comment: this is taken directly from item 8 of the OSD. 11. License Must Not Restrict the Distribution of Other Works The license must not place restrictions on other works that are distributed along with the licensed work. For example, the license must not insist that all other works distributed on the same medium are open. Comment: Distributors of open knowledge have the right to make their own choices. Note that ‘share-alike’ licenses are conformant since those provisions only apply if the whole forms a single work. Comment: this is taken directly from item 9 of the OSD. (†332)
  • Open Knowledge International 2014 (†916 ): Knowledge is open if anyone is free to access, use, modify, and share it — subject, at most, to measures that preserve provenance and openness. (†2743)