Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for the OpenOntologyRepository (OOR) Initiative    (2L0Q)

This is the page documenting the OpenOntologyRepository (OOR) IPR Policy, issues, references and related activities.    (2L0R)

The Official OOR Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy    (2L0S)

Our intent is to make the OpenOntologyRepository (OOR) software and system, as well as the content hosted in the open public instance of the OOR (repository) that this OOR-team will operate and maintain, to be as free, open, and unencumbered by IPR restrictions as we possibly can, so as to allow users of the software, system, and ontology content, the maximum freedom and flexibility. As such, we shall stipulate that ...    (2L0T)

... this has been adopted by the OOR team on 17-Dec-2010 subsequent to a series of meetings, consultations and dialog -- ref., in particular, OOR-IPR mini-series, subsequent OOR-team meeting discussions other related activities.    (2L13)

Effective 2014.11.23, the content license clause regarding the "attribution only" Creative Commons Attribution License was updated to CC BY 4.0 (from CC BY 3.0). ... ref.    (4EX1)

OOR-IPR mini-series: OpenOntologyRepository: Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy and Issues    (2GM2)

... a collaborative effort by: OOR-Ontolog-NCBO-CC-IAOA-OASIS.    (2HMJ)

One of the critical tasks at hand for the OOR team is to identify & clarify IPR issues related to the OpenOntologyRepository Initiative (and, invariably, to Ontology in general), and adopt a consensus IPR policy for OOR contributions.    (2GM3)

To this end, a mini-series of virtual events are being organized:    (2GM4)

... see background and preparation work at: /Discussion    (2GM8)

(candidate) IPR Policy for the OOR Initiative:    (2K83)

 [ ref. ]    (2K84)

Our intent is to make the OpenOntologyRepository (OOR) software and system, as well as the content hosted in the open public instance of the OOR (repository) that this OOR-team will operate and maintain, to be as free, open, and unencumbered by IPR restrictions as we possibly can, so as to allow users of the software, system, and ontology content, the maximum freedom and flexibility. As such, we shall stipulate that ...    (2K85)

(candidate) Additional Community Action:    (2K8F)

 [ ]    (2K8G)

As a joint community co-organizing this effort, we seek support and (optional) endorsements by individual members of the communities involved on the following:    (2K8H)

OOR-IPR mini-series Goals & Objectives:    (2HFA)

This "OOR-IPR mini-series" will, hopefully, start a dialog among the global ontology community and other stakeholder communities, to specifically address IPR issues relating to the "open ontology repository (OOR)" initiative. The discussion will, invariably, touch upon IPR issues pertaining to ontology in general as well.    (2HFB)

This mini-series is jointly organized by the OOR-team, the Ontolog-community, NCBO (US National Center for Biomedical Ontology), CC (Creative Commons), IAOA (the International Association for Ontology and its Applications) and OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards).    (2HFC)

Given the complexity of the issues involved, one can look at this mini-series to merely be the beginning of a quest, by the collaborating parties and their communities, to fully understand the issues, and to get themselves into a position to address them.    (2HFD)

As a community, we trust we will, over the course of this mini-series and subsequent actions and events, address a very important set of issues, that really have to be cleared, before the world can realize the full potential of open ontology repositories enabled by the science & technology of ontology and semantics.    (2HFF)

Issues we will be addressing:    (2HFG)

We need to address issues relating to:    (2HFH)

Pertinent assumptions and issues include (but not limited to) ...    (2HFT)

1) We are going under the assumption that, similar to software, an ontology, or ontology module, may be owned, and that this ownership may be protected under copyright law. We are also assuming that the rights of ownership include the ability to distribute some rendering of an ontology and to have the privileges associated with using the ontology specified within a license agreement. This is analogous to the copyright licensing model widely used for traditional software-related artifacts. One of the tenets of the OOR initiative is to promote and develop the mechanisms required to support the OPEN distribution of ontologies through federated repositories. Therefore, Ontology artifacts contained within such repositories will need to be associated with an OPEN license to realize this objective. This model of open dissemination is analogous to the one employed by Open Source software community. However, we believe that there are specific differences between traditional software artifacts and ontologies that render existing Open Source licenses ineffective for this purpose. Licenses promoted by the Creative Commons may be better suited to for licensing ontology-centric artifacts. However, how the current Creative Commons licenses map to the requirements of the OOR requires further investigation. Therefore, one of the objectives of the IPR panel session is to evaluate existing open licenses and to make specific recommendations regarding ontology licensing. If the panel should find that an appropriate license does not exist, then the panel will work with one of the existing open licensing groups to develop a license that is tailored to the needs of an the OOR objectives. Note that the potential concern over the proliferation of open licenses for ontologies will be considered and, if at all possible, strategies will be developed to help minimize this concern.    (2HFL)

2) The OOR initiative is tasked with the OPEN distribution of ontologies through federated repositories. However, the term OPEN needs to be defined. There are specific use cases that call for controlled access to an open ontology repository. For example, there may be specific policies that prevent ontology dissemination to specific jurisdictions. There have also been use cases presented on the OOR discussion forum that require controlled access to proprietary extensions of the OOR. These use cases suggest that IPR within an OOR instance, or federation of instances, may vary according to a specific ontology. The panel session will consider these differences and make recommendations on how to manage the variability of rights. This will include, but is not limited to, the concerns associated with integrating ontologies that are released according to different licenses. Issues with license compatibility will be specifically addressed.    (2HFM)

3) The federation of OOR instances is expected to be populated with content from a variety of sources originating from a variety of jurisdictions. This raises concern over the provenance of ontology content being contributed. A similar concern is currently echoed within the Open Source software community. The legal integrity of the OOR could be undermined if the ownership of contributed content were to be brought into questions. This is similar to the concern that arose Santa Cruz Operations (SCO) claimed that specific contributions made by IBM to the Linux kernel were actual owned by SCO. SCO subsequently approached several Linux end users demanding compensation. The OOR IPR panel session will consider this concern and will recommend mechanisms to help vet the provenance of both software and content contributions made to the OOR initiative, thus protecting the legal integrity of the OOR federation.    (2HFN)

4) Ontological engineering is maturing rapidly and best-practices are emerging to support the construction of ontologies as a collection of engineered artifacts. One specific practice is constructing modular ontologies. Although this is a practice that the OOR should support, there are certain IPR concerns that arise. If we assume that the OOR will allow ontologies to be contributed according to a multitude of licenses, how does this impact the licensing of an aggregating ontology, otherwise known as a derivative work? Specific issues include the compatibility and viral nature of certain licenses. Note that similar concerns exist within the Open Source software community and dealing with this issue has become a major challenge. The OOR IPR panel session has a unique opportunity to learn from these lessons for the benefit of the ontology community.    (2HFO)

5) There are efforts underway to convince standards bodies such as ISO, IEC, ANSI etc. to adopt ontologies as a means of formally specifying standards. The OOR IPR panel session will consider this possibility and will attempt to structure their recommendations to facilitate this endeavor.    (2HFP)

6) Given the fundamental nature of ontologies (Upper Ontologies or Foundational Ontologies), the IPR panel will consider the very notion of whether or not ontologies (or, at least, certain ontologies) should be given IPR protection ... along the same lines of thinking as:    (2HFQ)

o the fact that no one can copyright the alphabets or book titles    (2HFR)

o the fact that no one is allowed to patent algorithms, and    (2HFS)

o the ongoing debate about software patents or whether genes can be patented    (2HMI)

IPR Policy for the OOR Initiative:    (2JS3)

see: (draft) consensus IPR Policy for the OOR Initiative here.    (2JS4)

The team:    (2HEF)

We thank the following institutions and individuals for their contribution to make this "OOR-IPR mini-series" a reality.    (2HEG)

Co-orgainzers:    (2HEH)

Organizing Committee:    (2HEO)

Panelists & Advisors:    (2HEZ)

References and Resources:    (2HN0)