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Open Data Licences for Ireland Submission

Posted by Dominic Byrne on Thu, 20 Aug 2015 05:13:55 BST

As part of the public consultation process in respect of Open Data Licences for Ireland, Fingal County Council made a submission to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in March 2015.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform launched Ireland's National Open Data Initiative in July 2014.

As part of this Initiative, the Minister published a consultation document on Open Data Licences on 11th February 2015.

The consultation document considers a number of options for an Open Data licence for use in Ireland, to help ensure interoperability with other datasets internationally and to help facilitate use and re-use by ensuring continuity of Open Data availability.  The document also outlines a number of issues requiring further consultation and analysis.

Submissions in respect of the Open Data strategy could be made until 18th March 2015.

The document was launched at a Public Sector Seminar on Open Data at which a number of presentations were given as follows -

Speech by Minister Brendan Howlin

Putting Data to Work by Dr. Tracey Lauriault and Prof. Rob Kitchin, NUI Maynooth

Fingal Open Data Journey by Mr. Dominic Byrne, Fingal County Council

Auditing our Data Method and Toolkit by Ms. Deirdre Lee, Derilinx

Irish Government's Open Data Initiative by Ms. Evelyn O'Connor, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform


The following is Fingal County Council's submission in respect of Open Data Licences for Ireland -

Fingal County Council Submission to Open Data Licences for Ireland Consultation

March 2015


Fingal County Council has been to the forefront of Open Government Data in Ireland.  In 2010, the Council became the first Government body in Ireland to publish Open Data via the Fingal Open Data website http://data.fingal.ie  There are now over 230 datasets published on Fingal Open Data in open, machine-readable formats under the terms of the Irish PSI licence.

Fingal County Council has three main objectives for publishing Open Data –

  • Transparency – citizens can access the data that assists the Council and other public sector bodies in making decisions. Citizens can also use this data for additional social value.
  • Participation – citizens can increase their participation in the county of Fingal by using the data to analyse issues, to propose new ideas, to gain an insight into local government and to enrich their lives and their community.
  • Collaboration – citizens and businesses are encouraged to suggest ideas about additional data that could be published, what applications or services could be built using the data and how access to the data might be improved.  Citizens and businesses are encouraged to turn this data into apps, websites or other useful products

Fingal County Council welcomes the publication of the Open Data Licences policy paper by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.  Data published on the Fingal Open Data website is currently covered by the Irish PSI Licence for Re-Use of Information (PSI Licence).

In the time that Fingal Open Data has been operational, a number of potential users of data published by this Council have expressed the view that the PSI Licence is too restrictive for their re-use requirements for the following reasons (highlighted in italics) –

Section 4.1.(4) (a) for the principal purpose of advertising or promoting a particular product or service;

“Not compliant with OKD 8: No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor.”

Section 4.1.(4) (b) for an illegal, immoral, fraudulent or dishonest purpose or in support of the aforementioned purposes;


(d) generally in a manner which is likely to mislead others.

“These go beyond the restriction permitted by OKD 6: Integrity. Clauses such as these make permissions ambiguous, lend themselves to capriciuous enforcement, make compatibility with other open licenses problematic, and are generally superfluous in an open license, given that users generally must follow laws against fraud, etc.”

Section 5.1.        The benefit of this License may not be sub-licensed

“This clause prevents the uploading of data subject to the PSI licence to other Open Data initiatives such as OpenStreetMap which are subject to Open Licences such as Creative Commons or Open Database Licence”



The following are Fingal County Council’s recommendations regarding Open Data Licences for Ireland –

1.         The default licence should be CC0.


Public Bodies collect data on behalf of citizens to enable them to provide services to citizens.  The data is therefore held on behalf of citizens and should be made available to citizens for re-use with the minimum of restrictions.  As CC0 would have the same effect as placing the data in the public domain, this should be the default position.  This should particularly apply to digital media data created by Public Bodies such as Image, Audio and Video data.

CC0 should be the licence for all metadata.


2.         Where Public Bodies desire that re-users provide attribution in respect of the data, this should be requested separate to the licence.


Public Bodies may desire that attribution is specified in relation to data that they release openly.  When this is desirable rather than a requirement, this can be requested via Usage Guidelines such as the following Tate Gallery Guidelines in relation to their metadata –

“Usage guidelines for open data

These usage guidelines are based on goodwill. They are not a legal contract but Tate requests that you follow these guidelines if you use Metadata from our Collection dataset.

The Metadata published by Tate is available free of restrictions under the Creative Commons Zero Public Domain Dedication.

This means that you can use it for any purpose without having to give attribution. However, Tate requests that you actively acknowledge and give attribution to Tate wherever possible. Attribution supports future efforts to release other data. It also reduces the amount of ‘orphaned data’, helping retain links to authoritative sources.

Give attribution to Tate

Make sure that others are aware of the rights status of Tate and are aware of these guidelines by keeping intact links to the Creative Commons Zero Public Domain Dedication.

If for technical or other reasons you cannot include all the links to all sources of the Metadata and rights information directly with the Metadata, you should consider including them separately, for example in a separate document that is distributed with the Metadata or dataset.

If for technical or other reasons you cannot include all the links to all sources of the Metadata and rights information, you may consider linking only to the Metadata source on Tate’s website, where all available sources and rights information can be found, including in machine readable formats.”


3.         Where there is a requirement for Public Bodies to retain copyright in respect of the data, the licence should be CC-BY.


If there is a requirement for Public Bodies to retain copyright of the data, the Creative Commons Attribution Only (CC-BY) licence should be specified.  However, this should only be used when CC0 is deemed to be unsuitable.


4.         Public Bodies should replace existing Copyright and Licences relating to existing published data with CC0 or CC-BY licences.


There is a large volume of data currently published on Public Bodies’ websites which is subject to copyright or other licences.  To the greatest extent possible these should be replaced with CC0 or CC-BY licences to enable maximum re-use of this data.


5.         Public Bodies should remove Usage Acceptance Clauses, Acknowledgements, Email Requests and Confirmations from open datasets.


There are a number of Public Bodies websites where the user must agree to Usage Conditions, confirm their acceptance of Usage Conditions or email the Public Body in order to gain access to datasets.  These should be removed as they impose an unnecessary obstacle on the user of the data. 


6.         Public Bodies should include a standard clause in tender and contract documents asserting their rights to their data.


When a public body awards a contract in relation to the provision of a public service, it is important that the Public Body retains the rights to the data relating to the provision of that public service.  Public Bodies should include a standard clause in tender and contract documents asserting their rights to the data produced in relation to any contracts or services provided.  Such a clause should be a standard part of tender document templates.


Comments re Issues

The following are Fingal County Council’s response to the Issues for Consideration outlined in the policy paper –

  1. The Council currently uses the PSI licence for the publication of data on Fingal Open Data.  The Council would welcome the selection of an Open Data licence for Ireland which we would then apply to the data that we publish.
  2. The waiving of rights under CC0 would be acceptable to the Council, so we long as we also retain the option to utilise CC-BY in respect of datasets for which we might wish retain copyright.
  3. The CC-BY licence would be acceptable to the Council for situations where there is a requirement to retain copyright of datasets.
  4. It is not always clear who the copyright owner of a dataset is in all cases.  Copyright does not always belong to the body which created the data e.g. Fingal County Council maintains a Road Network dataset which includes local road names – however this dataset is derived from Ordnance Survey Ireland road centrelines and therefore cannot be published as Open Data by the Council.  In addition, there have been cases where contractors or service providers have asserted rights over data created in respect of services provide for Public Bodies.  Public Bodies should include a standard clause in tender and contract documents asserting their rights to the data produced in relation to any contracts or services provided.  Such a clause should be added to any Tender document templates.
  5. Ensuring that data is appropriate for publication as Open Data is a matter of implementing appropriate governance by Public Bodies.  This should not be a process exclusive to Open Data publication but should form part of the wider Data Management governance processes of the Public Body including Data Protection.
  6. While the purpose of data.gov.ie should be the provision of access to Open Data published under an Open Licence, it should also be possible for citizens to have some mechanism for accessing information about the data holdings of public bodies whether open or otherwise.
  7. CC0 should be used for all Public Body metadata regardless of the licence that applies to the actual datasets.
  8. So long as the licences used in Ireland and Britain are compatible with Open Licence definitions such as that from the Open Knowledge Foundation, there should be no implications.  The Open Data licence created and used by British Public Bodies is compatible.  If Ireland were to choose CC0/CC-BY, these are also compatible.
  9. &  13.  In line with our recommendations that both CC0 and CC-BY should be used, a combination of the two licencing statements would be preferable.  However, a simplified plain English version should be written in line with the approach taken by Creative Commons e.g. http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/




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