[doap-interest] questions about license information

Edd Dumbill edd at usefulinc.com
Mon Oct 31 23:08:10 GMT 2005

On Sat, 2005-10-08 at 17:28 +0200, Antoine wrote:
> Hi,
> I have questions about the way DOAP currently represents license
> information.
> First, there is a handful of licenses proposed in
> http://usefulinc.com/doap/licenses/. These licenses have their URI on
> the usefulinc.com Web site, and they mention the original URI merely as
> "seeAlso", which means - if I'm not mistaken - that it's not considered
> as an identifier by itself. This means that those URIs must be
> maintained on the usefulinc.com website. I suppose it's only a temporary
> measure, until the real maintainers of those licenses provide their own
> RDF for them?
> Second, these pre-crafted RDF descriptions of licenses don't give any
> useful information. It uses the RDF schema created by Creative Commons,
> but does not exploit any useful part of its vocabulary. Once again, is
> it deliberate or just in wait for something better? Has some thought
> been given to a precise vocabulary for free/open source licenses, or is
> there any project aiming at this?

The current state of licenses in DOAP is that DOAP doesn't really
specify equivalences.  I have written elsewhere:

The common software licenses will each have a well-known URI assigned to
them by DOAP, as described in Part 2 of this series. However, as
maintainer of the DOAP project, I have no desire to own identifiers for
licenses and will put in place a mechanism to allow arbitrary URIs. For
license URIs that processing software doesn't already know, it should be
possible to retrieve a small RDF description of the license to provide
software with human-readable license descriptions.

In other words, deciding license equivalence is a job for a DOAP
Processor.  DOAP provides enough information to let a *human* decide
equivalence, but probably not enough to let a computer decide.

> For the context of my questions: we are willing to find a way to add
> licensing metadata to works of art (and other types of contents)
> licensed under the Free Art License. The Free Art License is one of the
> first free copyleft licenses for more than software (see:
> http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en/).
> We have considered using the CC vocabulary, but don't know whether that
> would be satisfactory:
>   - it is specifically targetted at CC licenses - the vocabulary
> reflects that
>   - it does not address some of the points that would be useful (for
> example, statement of compatibility with various other well-known
> licenses: this would enable queries like "I want an RDF processing
> library that can be incorporated into a piece of GPL software")
>   - since it's meant for and controlled by CC, I suppose it would be
> difficult to make it evolve into something more generic and more useful
> to the free software/contents communities
> Do some people think it would be a good idea to have a specific
> vocabulary to describe, in precise and non-ambiguous terms, free/open
> source licenses?

Yes, I think this would be a profitable area of inquiry.  However, it
seemed to me to require buy-in from more parties than I felt I could
achieve in DOAP alone.

-- Edd

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