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Govt seeks views on Open Data License


A public consultation on the idea of an Open Data License has been begun by the government of India, a draft version of which can be downloaded here. The last date of submission is July 25th 2016, and comments need to be filed via the MyGov.in website, here.

As per terms mentioned in the license:

1. Usage and remixing: Users can access, use, adapt, and redistribute data published under this license for all lawful and non-exclusive purposes, without payment of any royalty or fee; the license is applicable worldwide and in perpetuity, across any medium or format, and can be used for commercial and non commercial purposes.

2. Attribution: The user must acknowledge the provider, source and license of data by publishing an attribution statement, URL, or digital object identifier of the source data. In case of multiple sources of data, they can attribute to a link to a page attributes all the datasets. The attribution format:

“Data has been published by [Name of Data Provider] and sourced from Open Government Data (OGD) Platform of India: [Name of Data]. ([date of Publication :dd/mm/yyyy]) .[DOI / URL / URI]. Published under Open Government Data
License – India: [URL of Open Data License – India].”

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3. No liability for the data provider: The data provider(s) is not held liable for any errors or omissions in the data set, or the impact of the data set. A user may not hold the data provider due to the usage of the data for a violation of the existing law.

4. Data providers need to make all versions of the data set available, once published, and available in perpetuity.

5. Cant use the following types of data: Personal information; Data that the data provider(s) is not authorised to licence; Names, crests, logos and other official symbols of the data provider(s); Data subject to other intellectual property rights, including patents, trademarks and official marks; Military insignia; Identity documents; and Any data publication of which may violate section 8 of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

MediaNama’s take:

– Truly open: This is an excellent approach to opening up government data, and ensures that data isn’t withdrawn once issued under an open data license. The ability to repurpose data is essential to it being useful. Also useful is the fact that anyone who repurposes the data isn’t forced to re-issue the data set under the same open license, which means that they can claim copyright over their work with the data set.
– Attribution is useful, but in our opinion, the idea behind attribution is to help identify the source of the data. If someone wishes to issue data, without laying claim to its attribution, they should have the freedom to do so. Forcing attribution in each instance isn’t necessary, and in those circumstances, the person using the data can take liability for it.

Also, the following format for attribution is far too long, and can be an eyesore when used in charts:

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“Data has been published by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation and sourced from Open Government Data (OGD) Platform of India: Overall Balance of Payments. (08/09/2015) . https://data.gov.in/catalog/overall-balance-payments. Published under Open Government Data License – India: [URL of Open Data License – India].”

As always, the government of India needs help with usability.

– The protection for the data provider, but liability for the user?, in terms of no liabilty for the use of the data, or for the data set makes sense, but in this case, the transfer of liability to the user means that the onus of verification of the data set lies on the user, and not on the publisher/creator of the data set. This will limit the usage of data sets, since the idea of remixing and attributing means that the source of the data is held responsible for it. From a journalistic perspective, this is a challenge because if someone leaks data, then the liability rests with the person who leaks it, not the one who reports the leaks. This will restrict and hamper usage of open data.

– Violation of laws: You can’t expect everyone to know if the usage of a data set violates the RTI Act, trademarks, official marks, patents etc. That’s an onerous condition.

– Only for Goverment data? Lastly, it appears that the open data license is merely for the usage of the government of India, especially going by the condition that the data and its versions need to be hosted in perpetuity. Let say a business wanted to open its data sets for anyone to use under the open data license. Why should they be forced to host it in perpetuity? The license needs to be a bit more flexible, to encourage use.


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  • A draft version of the open data license is here.
  • The last date of submission is July 25th 2016
  • Comments need to be filed via the MyGov.in website, here.

Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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