OCLC is recommending that member institutions that would like to release their catalog data on the Web do so with the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-BY). The license allows users to share, copy, distribute, modify, transform and build upon a database, provided that users “attribute any public use of the database, or works produced from the database, in the manner specified in the license,” according to ODC’s simple language summary. OCLC has requested that participants making use of WorldCat-derived data conform to the norms defined in the WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities.
The ODC-BY license will also be used by OCLC, as it releases additional sets of WorldCat data, including future linked data projects.
“Successful shared data projects require transparent, easily understood licenses,” Richard Wallis, OCLC Technology Evangelist, said in a release. “After much research and discussion, it was clear that ODC-BY was the best choice of license for many OCLC data services. The recommendation for members to also adopt this clear and consistent approach to the open licensing of shared data, derived from WorldCat, naturally flowed from this experience.”
In a statement, Jim Michalko, vice president, OCLC Research Library Partnership and overseer of OCLC’s license policy discussions, noted that many libraries have been looking for ways to make their bibliographic records available for free on the Internet, allowing them to be reused.
“Libraries may want to release catalog data as linked data, as MARC 21 or as MARCXML. For an OCLC member institution, these records may often contain data derived from WorldCat,” he said. “Coupled with a reference to the community norms articulated in ‘WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities,’ the ODC-BY license provides a good way to share records that’s consistent with the cooperative nature of OCLC cataloging.”
Prior policies had long been a point of contention for the organization. Recently, after five years of negotiations, the National Library of Sweden in December 2011 announced its refusal to participate in WorldCat, stating that “conditions for how bibliographic records taken from WorldCat for cataloguing were to be used in [Swedish Union Catalog] Libris…could not be accepted by the National Library.”
In July 2010, SkyRiver Technology Solutions and Innovative Interfaces filed an antitrust lawsuit against OCLC that specifically criticized OCLC’s prohibition on members sharing bibliographic data. That suit has been stalled since April 2011, but has not yet been resolved.
The organization first endorsed the ODC-BY in April 2012 with a resolution by the OCLC Global Council. In the intervening months, OCLC staff have consulted with members of the library and developer communities, investigating available licensing alternatives. Ultimately, the OCLC Global Council and the OCLC Board of Trustees approved this direction.