Tuesday, June 2, 2009

licenses and linked data

One of the major downsides of working outside of academia is that I now have to pay much more attention to licenses.  No longer can I just grab whatever data I like, do something fun with it, and try to publish what I did and move on.   Now I need to know - very specifically - what I am allowed to do with what so I can reduce the possibility of being sued and so that I can put up appropriate "powered by bla bla" messages.  Not being fond of reading legal agreements, this is a drag.

So I thought to myself, "there should be a legal ontology for linked data!".  That way I could tell my data harvesting program to ignore (or hide I suppose) any data that I wasn't legally allowed to put into my new for-profit-maybe-someday-I-hope mashup and thus never have to bother reading those agreements again.

I am not the first to think of this of course.  Here is a nice-looking abstract attached to a paper that I would like to read but am no longer allowed to read for free.
"The license agreement can be seen as the knowledge source for a license management system. As such, it may be referenced by the system each time a new process is initiated. To facilitate access, a machine readable representation of the license agreement is highly desirable, but at the same time we do not want to sacrifice too much readability of such agreements by human beings. Creating an ontology as a formal knowledge representation of licensing not only meets the representation requirements, but also offers improvements to knowledge reusability owing to the inherent sharing nature of such representations. Furthermore, the XML-based ontology languages such as OWL (Web Ontology Language) can be user friendly for the non-developers who are often those responsible for implementing and managing such license agreements. This paper shows our use of ontology to represent the license agreement in a development prototype. The ultimate goal is to build ontology for the license management domain that will facilitate autonomic knowledge management. Knowledge based on such ontology can then be shared and utilized by many types of license management system. "
What do you think?  Is it worth it to pay Springer $29 for the 1592kb in that paper?  

blog comments powered by Disqus