Help Keep Bibliographic Data License-Free

Picture of the U.S. Library of Congress

The Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Information at the Library of Congress has just released its final Draft Report. There’s much that’s good in it, but it’s lacking an important feature: an insistence that bibliographic data be license-free, as per point 8 of the Open Government Data Principles. (See also Jonathan Gray’s post about this, and the Open Knowledge Foundation petition.)

This may just be an oversight on the working group’s part, or it may reflect some deeper hesitancy about committing fully to the public domain. They’ve asked for comments on the draft, though, and it would be great if they heard from a lot of people about this. You can send them comments here:

Here’s what I sent them…

Unless I’m mistaken, the Draft Report doesn’t explicitly say that bibliographic data released by the Library, or by any government agency for that matter, should be license-free and in the public domain. This has nothing to do with the works that are referenced by the bibliographic data, of course, since they may be under a variety of licenses. But the bibliographic data itself should be free for all to use.

The Open Government Data Principles may be worth taking a look at. It’s a short and very comprehensible document; see especially Principle 8 (“license free”).

Thank you,
-Karl Fogel