Ontology sharing and copyright considerations

November 3rd, 2009 by Kaitlin Thaney

Important (and exciting) news in the world of shared vocabularies at Science Commons, a key component of our technical work to make knowledge sharing more efficient.

As of last week, OWL 2 – a standard web ontology language – was formally recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as part of their Semantic Web activity. Science Commons’ Alan Ruttenberg has been diligently working with the OWL working group specifying OWL 2 at the W3C to push this recommendation through. (Ruttenberg is the co-chair with Ian Horrocks at Oxford.) The W3C says that the transition to OWL 2 is a reflection of user experience with OWL, and the need to enable seamless integration and scalability.

From the W3C’s announcement:

“[OWL 2] allows people to capture their knowledge about a particular domain (say, energy or medicine) and then use tools to manage information, search through it, and learn more from it. Furthermore, as an open standard based on Web technology, it lowers the cost of merging knowledge from multiple domains.”

Also, building off of our existing work around the application of copyright licenses to content and data, there is now a resource available at that sheds light on copyright considerations for ontologies. We have long been asked what is the best means to license (or not) ontologies, a topic that’s not always easy to discern in terms of applicable rights regimes.

The resource explores when copyright may apply to an ontology as well as a number of other concerns regarding protection and the means to achieve that.

You can find this resource – “Ontology Copyright Licensing Considerations” – in our Reading Room.

One Response

  1. Mark Montgomery, on November 4th, 2009 at 9:21 am

    I still see no model allowing participants to be compensated unless working for the government, foundation, etc.

    My wife and I must be living in a different universe — our doctors are not free, our grocery stores are not free, our lease is not free, and our transportation is not free. Why then would scientists develop a model that has knowledge workers not being compensated?

    What is the ultimate agenda? WW3?

    That could be the result of economic disequilibrium on a global scale.