As InfoWorld reported earlier this week: Google CEO Eric Schmidt, at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco said Google wants to make the information it stores for its users easily portable so they can export it to a competing service if they are dissatisfied. He went on:
Making it simple for users to walk away from a Google service with which they are unhappy keeps the company honest and on its toes, and Google competitors should embrace this data portability principle
If you look at the historical large company behavior, they ultimately do things to protect their business practices or monopoly or what have you, against the choice of the users.
The more we can, for example, let users move their data around, never trap the data of an end-user, let them move it if they don’t like us, the better.
I wonder what Google’s opinions are on sharing data. Its one thing for you to be happy for your leaving customers to take their data with them [in a usable format] it is another to be happy to share the data of your current customers [with their permission] with your competitors to add value to your customers lives.
Obviously Schmidt’s comments are aimed at individual users of Google’s hosted software-as-a-service applications. Will this attitude cover aggregations of broader data – digitized book contents for instance? One key to the open movement of open data between those organizations who hold and allow access to it, is licensing. Discussion around licensing in the Open data world is a topic increasing in volume.
In presentations I attended at the recent Stellenbosch Symposium it was made clear that the research community should be discouraged from signing over all rights to their publications to publishers – some right to hold Open access copies in their institution’s repository should be retained. Then there is the constant justification by Google around what they are doing with the digitization of books. There is the Free Our Data campaign in the UK, and many other examples.
There is also the discussions around not only how things are licensed, but what can be the subject of a license.
The Talis Community License (TCL), which has received some Web 2.0 Summit coverage of its own on TechWeb, addresses a hole in the current spectrum of open data licensing which is not covered by the Open Source licenses such as GPL at one end, or by the Creative Commons movement at the other. Both of these cover creative output – source code and creative works respectively.
The problem comes when you try to protect [or enable] the use of ‘an aggregation’ of either facts [which in themselves can not be copyrighted] or individually protected/licensed elements in a data set. In Europe this access to an aggregation is covered by something called Database Right, but this is not a Global phenomenon.
To many this hole in the spectrum of Open Data Licensing is not obvious, and only becomes apparent after working through some examples. As the realisation for the need of something like the TCL spreads across the community we hope that it represents a useful contribution to the evolution of Open Licensing.
As I’ve been saying at conferences, anyone who wants to build an open-source repository of MARC records, with or without wiki-like access, will get my (and LibraryThing’s) direct support. I think it’s going to happen. I only we had the time to do it directly. Maybe we’ll get to it if no one else does….
…An open-source alternative to the current system is going to happen. The only question is when. The project is doable, and would be of enormous importance.
So where do the non-libraries and small libraries who do not want, or more likely cannot afford, to pay expensive fees to get at bibliographic records go at the moment? This has to change.
One of Tim O’Rielly‘s original key aspects of Web 2.0 is ‘Data as the driving force’ – its been a slow boiler but that is starting to become more obvious by the day.