Monday, March 19, 2007

How do the four freedoms apply to one database?

The FSF defines four freedoms when it comes to software. What kind of freedoms applies to a database like OmegaWiki.

The OmegaWiki software is licensed, like MediaWiki what it is an integral part of, with a GPL license. This means that you can use the software as is. As OmegaWiki uses specific data structures that can be licensed separately for completeness sake, the database design is also available under a GPL license.

The data that is contained in OmegaWiki is licensed under a combined GFDL/CC-by license. Many people insist that these licenses are not compatible. At issue is that the data are just facts, it is only possible to copyright facts as a collection. We want people to make use of our collection. For us success is: "when people find a use for our data we did not think off".

We invite people to collaborate on our data, when they enter some Babel templates on their user page, we give them edit rights to the data. We invite organisations to collaborate on our data because there is so much data that organisations can share, there is so much labour invested in the type of data OmegaWiki can be a home for.

So the data and the software is Free. How about OmegaWiki itself ..

As there is only one, the room to do whatever is limited. The data has to be useful to everyone and it has to fit in with the notion of the DefinedMeaning. When domain specific data is added, it needs to be domain specific and, there has to be agreement that this data provides a suitable extension for people involved in this domain.

When people find that this is not enough, they can have their own database. This does not mean that they cannot cooperate. Much of what they need in terms of extra functionality will be shared. It means that even when the OmegaWiki database is forked, there is still plenty of scope to improve all the things we do agree on and collaborate on those.

There is plenty of Freedom. All the Freedoms we provide. I think however we achieve the most success when we find that there is more that binds us than that drives us apart. It means that we have to work hard in understanding what our common needs are.


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