Monday, December 10, 2007

Open Formats, Open Standards, and Geodata Licenses

There has been some interesting discussion about open formats, open standards, and geodtata licensing at the OSGeo the past few weeks. I thought I would take a minute to post some interesting links:

Here is a blog from a lawyer working on open data licensing. This applies to data in general, not specifically geodata, but some of the same principles apply.

Here is a web site that contains an interesting description of the difference between open standards and open formats:

It says:

An open format is not:

  • Encumbered by patents.

  • Named using a trademark unless that trademark is usably by anyone under appropriately open terms (to define? - a trademark can be used to protect the integrity of a format, but use should not require payment, even for conformance testing)

  • tied to a particular software implementation (ie. it should be practical to have multiple software implementations)

An open format is:

  • Well and completely documented sufficient to implement a safely conformant reader/writer from scratch.

  • Defined in documentation that is freely redistributable (though the document may be under a license that doesn't allow changes to the spec document)

  • Software language independent (no dependencies on language specific components like "python pickling")

Is is desirable that an open format:

  • have an open source reference implementation for reading and writing.