Monday, April 26, 2010

Open Access Education for Open Source Software

Last week Cameron Shorter from Sydney Geospatial open source software company Lisasoft contacted me about how to provide "crowd-sourced" training. The idea was to apply the same open source development techniques to he training materials as the software. My suggestion was to use USQ's ICE system and Moodle.

We discussed open source and education over lunch on Jones Bay Wharf in Pyrmont, Sydney, where Listsoft is located. The Wharf, adjacent to the Sydney Casino and Google's Sydney office, has been redeveloped as a offices for software and media companies, with million dollar yachts pulled up alongside and a million dollar view of Sydney harbour from the outdoor restaurants.

Normally I am skeptical of open source enthusiasts proposing large projects. However, Lisasoft seem to have managed to sell geospetial products and services particularly to government agencies.

The Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) has a project to produce a "Live GIS Disc" of open source geospatial software. documentation to adopt standard documentation. This was to include some training material. OSGEO also has an OSGeo Education and Curriculum Project, providing a Search-able Database of Educational Material. Cameron has proposed aligning the documentation guidelines put in place for LiveDVD with the OSGeo education project. The idea being that along with the free software would be free educational materials.

My talk in Adelaide on open source for defence got Cameron's attention, so he asked how to go about providing educational content. I started by cautioning that it is difficult to get software developers to do documentation, let alone training materials (it is far more exciting to write the code than document it). But I did suggest using USQ's ICE and also Moodle. Both ICE and Moodle are available free and incorporate current thinking about how training should be done.

The difficulty with any such educational material design is to match up the high level definition of the training requirements with the low level training materials created. ICE comes with templates for USQ's course development process. These templates are much the same as commonly used for Australian universities and TAFEs and so should be easily adapted for describing OSGeo's courses. Moodle then provides the infrastructure for delivering the material.

At the technical level both ICE and Moodle generate HTML, making it easy and efficient to incorporate into online systems. Rather than produce PowerPoint (or the equivalent) for slide show presentations, I suggests using
HTML Slidy , as Incorporated in ICE.

Slidy allows for PowerPoint type functionality within the web version of the ICE documents. I have used Slidy for years to give presentations, with few of the audience ever noticing that what they are looking at is a web page, not a PowerPoint document.

One advantage of Slidy is that it allows for automated language translation. As the presentation is just a web page, web translators can be used. Someone looking at a web page through a translator, will see not only the normal web version of the notes translated, but the slides as well. obviously machine translation is not as good as a custom one, but it is available with no effort by the creator of the presentation.

More generally, as OSGEO have encouraged the use of creative commons licenses, there would seem to be no reason why the training materials can't be freely available and visible. Currently you can find the brief description of training materials with a web search, but not the content of the courses themselves.

Tools such as ICE and Moodle produce search-able web pages. This greatly
increases the visibility of the training materials, as they can be found with a web search. The person searching does not need to know of the existence of OSGEO, they would just need to search for words somewhere in the course content.

ps: Geoscience is not my field, although I have dabbled with a satellite fire mapping system.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Future of Scholarly Communication

Greetings from the National Library of Australia in Canberra, where Dr David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe is speaking on "Open Access and the Future of Scholarly Communication: Dissemination, Prestige, and Impact". He started by talking about the political imperative for access to information, both as a right and as a way to drive the economy. Governments which fund research are demanding measures of results, which provides an impetus for open access to increase use of research output, with e-science and e-research.

Dr Prosser pointed out that the revolution of the Internet is real, with 90% of scholarly journals online. The problem is that the new technology is matched with an old business model of subscription access. In some cases, access to one paper might cost several thousand dollars, even when the author of the paper gave away their copyright for free. He talked about how the traditional paper journal is a bundle of services which can be unbundled in the online environment. He jokingly congratulated Australia for no signing the "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities", as those who sign tend to feel they need to do no more. Examples of successful open access polices were the Welcome Trust and US NIH (Professor Larry Clarke from NIH is a keynote speaker next week at HIC09 in Canberra).

Dr Prosser criticised the Australian Research Council for not requiring open access to funded research. That policy followed a submission to the ARC by Professor Arthur Sale FACS, which I signed on behalf of the ACS (along with other organisations).

Dr Prosser speculated on new forms of scholarly publishing online, with institutional repositories being used as a source and forum, more closely integrated to research. He used NanoHub as an example. He used the analogy where academic libraries have now integrated teaching spaces (learning commons).

For the future Dr Prosser asked if papers should be designed to be machine readable, rather than human readable. He asked if they should be static, or can they be updated as new results become avialable. He asked if wikis and blogs have any long term academic value.

There is a paper "Institutional repositories and Open Access: The future of scholarly communication" (Journal of Information Services and Use, 2003) and a copy of an older presentation by Daid available online, covering many of the topics in his current Australian presentation "Open Access and the Evolving Scholarly Communication Environment":


Open Access and the Evolving Scholarly Communication Environment

David Prosser • SPARC Europe Director


SPARC Europe

Scholarly Publishing &
Academic Resources Coalition

  • Formed in 2002 following the success of SPARC (launched in 1998 by the US Association of Research Libraries)
  • Encourages partnership between libraries, academics, societies and responsible publishers
  • Originally focused on STM, but coverage expanding
  • Has over 110 members in 14 countries
  • By acting together the members can influence the future of scholarly publishing

The Effect of the Internet

  • Opportunities for expanded access and new uses offered by
    • ever-expanding networking
    • evolving digital publishing technologies and business models
  • New dissemination methods
  • Better ways to handle increasing volume of research generated
  • 90% of journals now online

The Situation Today – Dissatisfaction at Many Levels

  • Authors
    • Their work is not seen by all their peers – they do not get the recognition they desire
    • Despite the fact they often have to pay page charges, colour figure charges, reprint charges, etc.
    • Often the rights they have given up in exchange for publication mean there are things that they cannot do with their own work
  • Readers
    • They cannot view all the research literature they need – they are less effective
  • Libraries
    • Even libraries at the wealthiest institutions cannot satisfy the information needs of their users
  • Funders
    • Want to see greater returns on their research investment
  • Society
    • We all lose out if the communication channels are not optimal.

Open Access

What is it?

Call for free, unrestricted access on the public internet to the literature that scholars give to the world without expectation of payment.


Widen dissemination, accelerate research, enrich education, share learning among rich & poor nations, enhance return on taxpayer investment in research.


Use existing funds to pay for dissemination, not access.

Budapest Open Access Initiative

Two complementary strategies:

  • Self-Archiving: Scholars should be able to deposit their refereed journal articles in open electronic archives which conform to Open Archives Initiative standards
  • Open-Access Journals: Journals will not charge subscriptions or fees for online access. Instead, they should look to other sources to fund peer-review and publication (e.g., publication charges)

What are Institutional Repositories (Open Archives)?

Essential elements

  • Institutionally defined: Content generated by institutional community
  • Scholarly content: preprints and working papers, published articles, enduring teaching materials, student theses, data-sets, etc.
  • Cumulative & perpetual: preserve ongoing access to material
  • Interoperable & open access: free, online, global

The Benefits of Institutional Repositories

  • For the Individual
    • Provide a central archive of their work
    • Improved discovery and retrieval
    • Increase the dissemination and impact of their research
    • Acts as a full CV
  • For the Institution
    • Increases visibility and prestige
    • Acts as an advertisement to funding sources, potential new faculty and students, etc.
    • Helps in administration, e.g., Research assessment and evaluation
  • For Society
    • Provide access to the world’s research
    • Ensures long-term preservation of institutes’ academic output

What is a Journal?

Scholarly publishing comprises four functions:

Current model:

  • Integrates these functions in journals
  • This made sense in print environment




for future use




of research


Certifying the


of the research





The Four Functions - Repositories




for future use




of research


Certifying the


of the research








  • Certification gives:
    • Authors – Validation of their work (important for promotion and grant applications)
    • Readers – Quality filter
  • Journals provide peer review and give a ‘quality stamp’ to research and authors
  • Journals should be open access

The Four Functions of a Journal




for future use




of research


Certifying the


of the research







Open Access


How the pieces work together









Interoperability Standards


e.g.: by



e.g.: peer review


e.g.: search tools, linking


e.g.: by library

Theory Into Practice
- Institutional Repositories

  • GNU EPrints – Southampton
  • D-Space – MIT
  • CDSWare – CERN
  • ARNO – Tilburg, Amsterdam, Twente
  • Fedora – Cornell University / University of Virginia

  • DARE – The Netherlands

Theory Into Practice
- Institutional Repositories

OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories)

  • An authoritative directory of academic open access repositories
  • List of over 1425 repositories
  • Can be used to search across content in all listed repositories
  • Gives information on repository polices (copyright, re-used of material, preservation, etc.)

Theory Into Practice
- Open Access Journals

  • Lund Directory of Open Access Journals ( – lists over 4250 peer-reviewed open access journals
  • PLoS Biology (launched 2003), PLoS Medicine (2004), PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics, PLoS Pathogens (2005)
  • BioMed Central (published over 54,000 papers)
  • Documenta Mathematica (Ranked 24th of 214 mathematics journals listed by ISI)
  • SPARC Europe has helped to launch the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA - to represent the interests of open access publishers

Open Access – Making the Transition

  • Give Authors the choice:
    • If they pay a publication charge the paper is made open access on publication.
    • If they do not pay the publication charge the paper is only made available to subscribers.
  • Over time, as proportion of authors who pay increases subscription prices can fall
  • Eventually, entire journal is open access

Open Access – Making the Transition

  • A number of ‘traditional’ publishers are transforming their closed access journals into open access journals:
    • Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS)
    • Oxford University Press
    • American Institute of Physics
    • Company of Biologists
    • American Physiological Society
    • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
    • Springer
    • Blackwell’s

The Power of Open Access – Self Archiving

  • For 72% of papers published in the Astrophysical Journal free versions of the paper are available (mainly through ArXiv)
  • These 72% of papers are, on average, cited twice as often as the remaining 28% that do not have free versions.

Figures from Greg Schwarz

  • Tim Brody from Southampton has shown that papers for which there is also a free version available have, on average, greater citations than those that are only available through subscriptions

The Power of Open Access – Journals

  • Open access PNAS papers have 50% more full-text downloads than non-open access papers

  • …and are on average twice as likely to be cited

What Institutions Are Doing


    • Set-up and maintain institutional repository.
    • Help faculty deposit their research papers, new & old, digitizing if necessary.
    • Implement open-access policies

Open-access journals:

    • Help promote open access journals launched at their institution become known externally.
    • Ensure scholars at their institution know how to find open access journals and archives in their fields.
    • Support open access journal ‘institutional memberships’ (e.g. BioMedCentral, PLoS)
    • Engage with politicians and funding bodies to raise the issue of open access

Open Access – Appealing to All the Major Stakeholders

  • To the funders of researcher – both as a public service and as an increased return on their investment in research
  • To the authors – as it gives wider dissemination and impact
  • To readers – as it gives them access to all primary literature, making the most important ‘research tool’ more powerful
  • To editors and reviewers – as they feel their work is more valued

Open Access – Appealing to All the Major Stakeholders

  • To the libraries – as it allows them to meet the information needs of their users
  • To the institutions – as it increases their presence and prestige
  • To small and society publishers – as it gives them a survival strategy and fits with their central remit

A Changing Environment

“It is one of the noblest duties of a university to advance knowledge, and to diffuse it not merely among those who can attend the daily lectures--but far and wide. ”

Daniel Coit Gilman, First President, Johns Hopkins University, 1878 (on the university press)

An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good.

Budapest Open Access Initiative, Feb. 14, 2002

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Future of Scholarly Communication in Europe

Dr David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe will speak on "Open Access and the Future of Scholarly Communication: Dissemination, Prestige, and Impact", at the National Library of Australia in Canberra, 14 August 2009.
ANU Division of Information and the National Library of Australia Present:

Open Access and the Future of Schollarly Communcation: Dissemination, Prestige, and Impact

Dr David Prosser
Director, SPARC Europe

Friday 14 August, 12.30-1.30pm
Conference Room, 4th Floor, National Library of Australia
Parkes Place, Canberra, ACT

This lecture is free and open to the public.

Enquiries: T: 02 6125 2981 E:

The internet is having a profound impact on the 300-year-old model of scholarly communication. New technologies allow for new modes of interaction between researchers, and a wider audience of administrators, funders, governments and the general public. The lines between formal and informal communication are becoming increasingly blurred and
publishers and librarians find themselves playing new roles in the scholarly communication chain. One of the most powerful new ideas to emerge with the development of the internet is open access – the notion that the scholarly research literature should be made available
to readers free of charge. This presentation describes current developments within the scholarly communications landscape and provides an indicator of possible future directions.

David Prosser was appointed the first director of SPARC Europe in October 2002. Previously, he spent ten years in science, technical, and medical journal publishing for both Oxford University Press and Elsevier Science. During this time he was involved in all aspects of publishing from production through to editorial and financial management of journals.

Before becoming a publisher he received a PhD and BSc in Physics from Leeds University,UK.

SPARC Europe is an alliance of European research libraries, library organizations and research institutions, providing a voice for the community and the support and tools it needs in order to bring about positive change to the system of scholarly communications.

Its members represent over 100 leading academic and research institutions in over 14 European countries. ...

From: Open Access and the Future of Scholarly Communication: Dissemination, Prestige, and Impact, ANU, 2009

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR)

The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) provide a useful service where they chart how many new entries there are in open access repositories. The information is presumably automatically extracted from the repository. As an example, for the ACS Digital Library:

ACS Digital Library (410 records)

Thumbnail of
Records Deposited per Day
Running Other softwares (various), based in Australia and is registered as e-Journal/Publication
Registered on 2006-12-05
Cumulative deposits: 410 total [table] [graph]
Daily deposits in last year: 1 days of 1-9, 1 days of 10-99, 0 days of 100+ [table] [graph (PNG format)] [interactive graph (requires SVG format support)]
OAI Interface: Identify List Metadata Formats List Sets [harvest status]
100% freely accessible fulltext (* estimate)
The ACS Digital Library provides international quality magazines, journal articles and conference papers, covering innovative research and practice in Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). This service is provided free to the ICT profession by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) as part of its commitment to ensure the beneficial use of technology for the community. It includes: Australasian Journal of Information Systems (AJIS), Journal of Research and Practice in Information Technology (JRPIT), and Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology (CRPIT).

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

EU Project Missing the Point on Open Access to Publications

The European Commission has a project looking at the use of public domain content. Those involved in higher education in the EU can take part in a Survey on the Use of public domain works in higher education (those outside the EU can still get a report on the survey results by entering their email address). However, a flaw in the design of the study by Rightscom may result in it harming open access projects in Europe. The problem seems to be that the EU project assumes that free material is mostly about dusty old books where the copyright has expired. There is a danger this will be a self fulfilling prophecy: the surveys will find little new material because the survey specifically exclude such material and the conclusion will be that open access material is of little value.

One problem I can see with the survey is the definition used: "By public domain we mean material that is not or is no longer protected by intellectual property rights and includes resources which can be freely accessed and used and re-used by all." (from the survey preface). This definition would exclude all creative commons materials and most other open source licences. It would exclude the GNU Free Documentation Licence, of the Wikipedia, and the Wikiversity. It would exclude the training materials I provide free online from my ANU courses, the materials provided now by MIT Open Courseware and Standford University. Also the new research papers from the Australian Computer Society Digital Library and the International Federation for Information Processing Digital Library. All of these provide some form of free use, but are still protected by intellectual property rights.

The Economic and Social Impact of the Public Domain Project Announcement mentions Creative Commons and the GNU Free Documentation Licence, but apparently as an afterthought. Those of a suspicious mind might think that the project has been deliberately designed this way so as to minimise the
size, value and usage of public domain content found in Europe, as a way to protect the financial interests of the commercial publishing industry. However, it seems more likely that the flawed methodology is due to a failure by those designing the project and the study to understand the nature of open access.

The designers of the project appear to see the main way people can gain free access to materials is where the copyright has expired. New open access materials where they are designed this way from the start appear to have been added as a minor consideration. Perhaps in some disciplines, such as history and literature, access to old materials could be of great value. However, being able to access the latest research and educational material through open access licences is likely to be of more value for most areas of research and education. The EU should revise the project definition to place the priority on new work and ask the researchers conducting the higher education study to revise their survey. If there is no change, then there is a danger the results, by excluding most new open access material, will falsely report there is little public domain material and it is of little value.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Universities, Scholarship and the Web

Dr Alma SwanDr Alma Swan will be in Australia next week for the Open Access and Research Conference 2008. She will also be giving a free seminar at ANU in Canberra September 22:
Back to the Mission: Universities, Scholarship and the Web
Monday 22 September 2008, 12.30 - 1.30pm
McDonald Room, R.G. Menzies Building, ANU

Abstract: The Web has turned upside down many of the ways in which things are done. It is also changing profoundly the way people in the academic community are thinking and interacting. Scholarship is becoming increasingly 'big' , multidisciplinary and multinational and scholars have long been changing behaviours to enable these trends. Universities are adjusting as well, with some innovative and promising developments of their own. In many senses, these shifts represent a return to the original mission of universities and help us to reflect upon recent and future directions for higher education. This presentation will review what is going on in scholarly communication and how universities are repositioning to take advantage of new opportunities on behalf of both their researchers and the institution as a whole.

Bio: Alma Swan, Director, Key Perspectives Ltd, Truro, UK
Alma Swan obtained a first class honours degree in zoology in 1974 and a PhD in cell biology in 1978 from Southampton University. After research fellowships funded by the Cancer Research Campaign at Southampton General Hospital and St. George's Hospital Medical School (London), she took a position as Lecturer in Zoology at the University of Leicester. Her research was in medical cell biology and she taught a range of courses from vertebrate biology to the biology of cancer. In 1985, she moved into science publishing as managing editor of a Pergamon Press (later Elsevier Science) biomedical research indexing service, published both in print and online. In 1996, she jointly founded Key Perspectives, a consultancy serving the scholarly publishing industry. Though she has worked in the commercial sphere for 20 years, she retains links with academic life: for four years she was tutor and consultant for the Open University Business School's MBA programme and since 1991 has been tutor for two business strategy courses on Warwick Business School's MBA programme. She is a Visiting Researcher in the School of Electronics & Computer Science at the University of Southampton and Associate Fellow in the Marketing and Strategic Management Group at Warwick Business School. Alma has an MBA from Warwick Business School, is a Member of the Institute of Biology, is an elected member of the Governing Board of Euroscience (the European Association for the Promotion of Science and Technology) and is editor of its magazine, The Euroscientist.

Colin Steele
Emeritus Fellow
Copland Building 24
Room G037, Division of Information
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200


Monday, July 21, 2008

Open source licensing of Victorian Government information

Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and DataThe Victorian Parliament is having an inquiry to see if open access/open source licensing should be used to make Victorian Government information more readily available. There is a discussion paper and submissions have been invited by 22 August 2008.

The discussion paper is a well written and carefully researched document. Its dissemination as a reasonably efficient and accessible elelctronic document increases the credibility of the work (despite one lapse where the elelctronic version is described a being "... printed on recycled paper").

However, I was invited to give evidence to a previous Victorian parliamentary inquiry into e-voting for the disabled. The committee recommended e-voting, but the Victorian Government implemented it in such a poor way it was used by few people and was a waste of public money. It is to be hoped that the resources the Victorian Parliament is putting into the question of open access is not similarly squandered by the executive arm of government.

Some excepts from the discussion paper:
Terms of Reference

The Legislative Assembly under section 33 of the Parliamentary
Committees Act 2003 refers Terms of Reference requiring:

That the Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee inquire into, consider and report to Parliament on the potential application of open
content1 and open source licensing to Victorian Government information,
and in particular, the Committee is asked to:

a) report on the potential economic benefits and costs to Victoria of
maximising access to and use of Government information for commercial and/or non-commercial purposes, including consideration of:

i. public policy developments elsewhere in Australia and internationally; and
ii. the types of information that will provide the greatest potential

b) consider whether the use of open source and open content
licensing models, including Creative Commons, would enhance the
discovery, access and use of Government information;
c) report on the use of information and communication technology to
support discovery, access and use of Government information; and
d) identify likely risks, impediments and restrictions to open content
and open source licensing of Government information, including
impacts on and implications for any existing cost recovery

The Committee is required to report to Parliament by 30 June 2009.

1 The Terms of Reference received by the Committee from the Legislative Assembly of the Parliament of Victoria referred only to ‘open source licensing’. The Committee has determined that the intent of the Reference may be clarified by additional reference to ‘open content licensing’. For comparison, the original Terms of Reference, as received from the
Legislative Assembly, can be found in Appendix One.

Table of Contents

The Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee... v
Terms of Reference... vii
Guide to making a submission... ix
Table of Contents... xi
Questions for discussion ... xiii
Abbreviations ... xv

Chapter One: Access to Public Sector Information... 1
1.1 Structure of this paper ... 1
1.2 Emerging interest in access to public sector information ... 1
1.2.1 Potential for economic development... 2
1.2.2 Potential for social engagement... 2
1.2.3 Recent policy and legislative developments ... 3
1.2.4 What approach should government adopt toward access to and re-use of PSI? ... 4
1.3 Purpose of this discussion paper... 5
1.4 Questions ... 6

Chapter Two: Economic and social issues surrounding access to public sector information ... 7
2.1 Returns on investment... 7
2.1.1 Improved returns to government from release of PSI ... 7
2.1.2 Potential costs to government from release of PSI... 9
2.2 Innovation and creativity... 10
2.3 Social aspects of access to PSI ... 11
2.3.1 Anticipated social benefits of access to PSI ... 11
2.3.2 A need for caution?... 16
2.4 Questions: ... 18

Chapter Three: Defining the public sector ... 19
3.1 Definitions from Commonwealth and Victorian legislation... 19
3.1.1 Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) ... 19
3.1.2 Public Administration Act 2004 (Vic)... 21
3.1.3 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)... 21
3.1.4 Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) ... 22
3.1.5 Local councils ... 23
3.1.6 International experience... 24
3.2 Documents and information subject to improved PSI access ... 24
3.2.1 Precedents in Victoria... 24
3.2.2 Precedents from the UK... 26
3.2.3 OECD definition of applicable documents ... 27
3.3 Questions: ... 27

Chapter Four: Issues surrounding pricing for PSI access ... 29
4.1 International experience ... 30
4.2 PSI access in Australia... 32
4.3 Access at no or marginal cost versus commercialisation ... 33
4.4 Questions: ... 34

Chapter Five: Open content licensing ... 35
5.1 Creative Commons... 36
5.1.1 The application of Creative Commons to PSI ... 38
5.1.2 Opportunities for the application of Creative Commons to PSI... 39
5.1.3 Concerns about the application of Creative Commons to PSI... 40
5.1.4 Implementation of open content licensing models... 41
5.2 The alternative to licensing PSI ... 43
5.3 Questions: ... 44

Chapter Six: Open source licensing ... 45
6.1 Government use of OSS ... 46
6.2 Open source software versus proprietary software ... 47
6.3 Questions: ... 49
References... 51
Appendix One: Extract from LA Votes and Proceedings... 57

Questions for discussion

Question 1: What are the advantages and disadvantages of government adopting ‘push’ and ‘pull’ models toward the publication of public sector information (PSI), respectively? ... 6
Question 2: How can improved access to and re-use of PSI drive economic growth, employment opportunities and new commercial ventures? ... 18
Question 3: What can the Victorian Government do to improve access to PSI in a manner that creates new opportunities for information and knowledge flow, and thereby encourage further innovation? ... 18
Question 4: If the Victorian public sector is to provide increased access to information, what kind of information would provide the greatest opportunities to improve or develop:
a) investment and business opportunities?
b) social, medical and scientific research?
c) community and civic engagement?... 18
Question 5: How can social engagement, in particular through the development of spontaneous social networks, be enhanced through the provision of enhanced access to PSI?... 18
Question 6: In what circumstances can open access to PSI empower individual citizens and communities to participate in social and political activities? ... 18
Question 7: What institutions and agencies should be considered part of the public sector for the purposes of this Inquiry? What advantages will be obtained by encompassing some or all of the following agencies and institutions under this definition:
a) executive government: principally government departments, but also incorporating statutory authorities?
b) the legislature: including parliament?
c) the judiciary?
d) local councils?
e) other public institutions, such as universities, TAFEs, public hospitals, etc? 27
Question 8: What kinds of documents, data and/or other materials should be considered for public access? What criteria should be applied when judging whether specific documents, data and materials should be made available to the public?... 28
Question 9: What types of access and pricing policies have been adopted by Victorian Government agencies for the provision of PSI? Is there consistency across individual departments? What have been the costs and benefits associated with these pricing policies in terms of:
a) investment and business opportunities?
b) social, medical and scientific research?
c) community and civic engagement?... 34
Question 10: How should governments ensure transparency and fairness in their pricing policies? ... 34
Question 11: What criteria should government apply when determining whether to provide access to PSI? Under what circumstances would the following pricing options be appropriate:
a) no cost?
b) marginal cost or cash recovery?
c) commercial profit and return? ... 34
Question 12: What other open content licensing models may be of interest to the Committee?... 44
Question 13: Is the absence of conditions regarding geographical restrictions or no endorsement in Creative Commons likely to be an issue for Victorian PSI? ... 44
Question 14: What are the merits of the Victorian Government developing its own whole-of-government licensing framework as an alternative to adopting the Creative Commons licensing system?... 44
Question 15: Is it appropriate for the Victorian Government’s licensing framework to comprise both the Creative Commons licences and other more tailored licences? ... 44
Question 16: What are the benefits of establishing a central agency whose core responsibility would be managing the Victorian Government’s licensing model? ... 44
Question 17: What are the range of licence conditions that the Victorian Government is likely to require when issuing open content licenses?... 44
Question 18: To what extent have other Australian governments adopted the use of OSS in their ICT business solutions? ... 49
Question 19: What risks and benefits do OSS products offer over proprietary software for use in government operations? Are there opportunities for broader adoption of OSS by the Victorian Government? ... 49
Question 20: What is the capacity for both software models to coexist in the same organisation? ... 49
Question 21: What is the role of the Victorian government in procuring and distributing OSS in ICT business solutions? ... 49

Chapter One: Access to Public Sector Information

The Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee (EDIC) is a Joint Investigatory Committee of the Parliament of Victoria. The functions of the Committee are to report to the Parliament on any proposal, matter or thing concerned with economic development, industrial affairs or infrastructure.

On 27 February 2008, the EDIC was asked to inquire into, consider and report to Parliament on the potential application of open source licensing to Victorian Government information (the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry are printed on page vii of this paper).

1.1 Structure of this paper

This paper begins with a brief overview of some of the issues that have led to an increased interest in governments providing enhanced access to information and data held by the public sector.

The paper then discusses five key areas of interest arising from the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry. These are:

• the economic and social issues surrounding access to public sector information (PSI), including access by means of open content
• how the public sector should be defined, and the types of PSI that should be made available;
• issues surrounding pricing for PSI access;
• issues surrounding open content licensing; and
• issues surrounding open source licensing.

1.2 Emerging interest in access to public sector information

Over the past decade, the development of the internet and related technologies has substantially reduced costs associated with the dissemination of most information. As bandwidth has expanded, and with the development of sophisticated internet searching and indexing techniques, it is now possible to place extensive repositories of primary and secondary data and research online, and to have that data identified and accessed by a diverse range of people and organisations.

Along with this development, there has been increasing interest in the potential for information generated by (or obtained in association with) government activities to be made more widely available. Internationally and in Australia a number of studies and commentaries have been initiated within government and academia to examine issues surrounding more open approaches to the provision of government information.2 A number of commentators now argue that there is significant potential for social and economic benefits to flow from increasing the range of PSI made available to the public at low, or no, cost.3

As discussed in Chapter Five, one of the ways to improve access to and re-use of PSI in the public domain is through the application of ‘open content’ licences to government material. In the literature, the open content licensing model has emerged as a practical alternative to the existing licensing systems adopted by governments as it allows others to obtain access to and re-use copyright material with minimal transactions. This is because the licences are automated and grant permission for others to reuse protected material upon discovery of that material. A number of open content licensing models exist in Australia and internationally, with Creative Commons being the most commonly recognised model.

1.2.1 Potential for economic development

To date, improved access to PSI has most often been considered in the context of opportunities for economic development. This follows observations of the emergence of successful commercial enterprises that create innovative products from repackaged, processed or amalgamated PSI. The basic argument for supporting improved access to PSI on grounds of economic development is that the revenue and economic activity generated through the use of PSI substantially outweighs costs incurred by government in the course of generating and disseminating that information. However, there is still considerable debate about the categories of PSI that are best suited to this purpose, and the circumstances and conditions under which PSI should be released.

1.2.2 Potential for social engagement

While most interest in PSI has surrounded the potential for commercial and/or economic development, a number of commentators have also suggested there is potential for other, less tangible, social benefits to derive from improved access to PSI. For example, improved access to PSI may provide citizens with a heightened sense of social identity and participation.

Some commentators also consider open access to PSI to be an essential prerequisite for functioning modern democracies.4 One key argument in favour of open access to PSI is that as the information is publicly funded, it is consequently held on behalf of the people, and should also be accessible by them. This idea draws upon an emerging international movement that argues citizens should be given access to data they fund
without having to pay for it again.5

It has also been suggested that improved access to PSI will provide a broader range of people and organisations with an opportunity to examine data and information about key areas of government responsibility, and potentially develop innovative recommendations and strategies for improvements to government policy. Similarly, improved access to PSI, such as through open content licensing, may also stimulate new commercial and private enterprise. In this way, society may take advantage of its collective intelligence to develop solutions to common issues and problems, and to generate more wealth throughout society.

A related justification for improved access to PSI is that it will provide a mechanism for improving government accountability and transparency.

The argument for this approach is that by providing the public with the evidence upon which government decisions are made, improved access to PSI will provide the public with an opportunity to critically assess government policies and decisions.

The Committee notes that in 2005 the Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee (SARC) tabled its final report on the Inquiry into Victorian Electronic Democracy. This report considered some issues surrounding the use of government information by citizens and businesses, focusing on the use of electronic technologies to improve parliamentary democracy.6 In part, the current inquiry expands on the work done by
SARC by focusing more particularly on costs and benefits associated with different approaches to the provision of PSI.

1.2.3 Recent policy and legislative developments

Internationally, a range of actions have been undertaken to improve access to PSI. On 18 June 2008, for example, the Organisation and Cooperation Economic Development’s (OECD) Ministerial Meeting on the future of the internet economy endorsed the Seoul Declaration for the

Future of the Internet Economy, which included a recommendation for the development of policies that:

Make public sector information and content, including scientific data, and works of cultural heritage more widely accessible in digital format.7

The background document to the declaration pointed to further recommendations for OECD member countries to consider in the context of improved access to PSI, including:

• Maximising the availability of public sector information for use and re-use based upon the presumption of openness as the default rule.
• Encouraging broad non-discriminatory competitive access and conditions for re-use of public sector information by eliminating exclusive arrangements, and removing unnecessary restrictions on the ways in which it can be accessed, used, re-used, combined or shared.
• Improving access to information and content in electronic form and over the Internet.
• Finding new ways to digitise existing public sector information and content, to develop “born-digital” public sector information products and data, and to implement cultural digitisation projects where market mechanisms do not foster effective digitisation.
• Exercising copyright in ways that facilitate re-use, and where copyright holders are in agreement, developing simple mechanisms to encourage wider access and use, and encouraging institutions and government agencies that fund works from outside sources to find ways to make these works widely accessible to the public. 8

In the United States, President Bush endorsed a bill in December 2007 that requires all research funded by the National Institutes of Health to be made available to the public.9 In 2003, the European Commission introduced the European Union (EU) Directive on the re-use of PSI, which established a minimum set of rules governing the re-use of PSI held and developed by public sector bodies within EU Member States.10 All Member States were required to have implemented the Directive by 1 July 2005.

In January 2008, the European Research Council (ERC) also mandated public access to its research projects, requiring that ERC-funded research publications be deposited into a research repository within six months of publication.11 Australia is taking similar steps through the Commonwealth Government’s Accessibility Framework. The overall intent of the Framework is that “outputs of publicly funded research, including research data and research publications, should be managed in ways that maximise public benefit through exposure and use.”12

1.2.4 What approach should government adopt toward access to and re-use of PSI?

The key consideration with regard to PSI is the extent to which the various ways access can be limited (for example, through price, licensing arrangements, or whether information is available on the internet or not) are justified. While a substantial case can be made that limitations on access to information relevant to the exercise of people’s basic human rights should not exist (for example, information about why one’s travel visa was declined), the proposition that people have a right to all information – including information that does not pertain to the exercise of basic human rights – is subject to debate.

One way of conceptualising different government approaches to the dissemination of information is by distinguishing between ‘pull’ and ‘push’ models. This concept was proposed in the independent review of the Queensland Government’s Freedom of Information legislation, which proposed 141 recommendations to achieve a more effective and transparent FoI legislative model.13

The pull model most closely resembles current practice, with an emphasis on the dissemination of information in response to individual requests for access – generally through such mechanisms as FoI requests. This model depends, at least in part, on the person requesting the information knowing that it exists in the first place. Information that is proactively released to the public domain by government under this model generally serves a specific policy objective – such as introducing or making a case for a particular program or government action.

The push model, on the other hand, emphasises proactive publication of information by government. Under this model, government identifies and publishes a wide range of data without first waiting for the information to be requested. This approach may mean that the public becomes aware of information because government has made it available. Commentators in favour of this approach suggest that agencies should anticipate information requests, and use the internet to make broad categories of information available online.

Both of these approaches to the dissemination of PSI have advantages and disadvantages, and in practice a mixture of both are generally exercised by government. For example, if a wider range of data were actively published under the push model, more work may be required of the public service to bring relevant data and information up to a publishable standard. In contrast, however, enhancing the level of government information and data that is available in the public domain could reduce the number of FoI requests government has to process. As a consequence, the amount of government resources allocated to responding to such requests could be reduced considerably.

1.3 Purpose of this discussion paper

The purpose of this paper is to identify and discuss issues relevant to the potential application of open content and open source licensing to Victorian Government information. This discussion paper has been prepared to provide information to assist interested people and organisations to make public submissions to the Inquiry. The aim of this paper is to prompt discussion by highlighting key issues and raising questions, rather than by providing answers or solutions. It has also been prepared to encourage a wide range of people to participate in this Inquiry, and for this reason readers’ familiarity with issues surrounding access to PSI has not been
assumed. ...

2 Productivity Commission, Public support for science and innovation, Commonwealth Government, Canberra, 2007.
3 Productivity Commission, Public support for science and innovation, Commonwealth Government, Canberra, 2007.
4 Copyright Law Review Committee, Crown copyright, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2005, p. 39.
5 Dylan Bushell-Embling, 'Private eyes on public data', Sydney-Morning Herald, 25 September 2007; Catherine Bond, 'Reconciling Crown copyright and reuse of government information: an analysis of the CLRC Crown copyright review', Media & Arts Law Review, vol. 12, no. 3, 2007.
6 Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee, Inquiry into electronic democracy, Parliament of Victoria, Melbourne, 2005.
7 OECD, 'The Seoul declaration for the future of the internet economy', viewed 25 June 2008, .
8 OECD, 'Shaping policies for the future of the internet economy', viewed 25 June 2008, .
9 Mark Patterson, 'Public access to research funded by National Institutes of Health - now law', viewed 20 March 2008, .
10 European Commission, 'Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information', Official Journal of the European Union, 2003.
11 Mark Patterson, 'Open access mandates from the National Institutes of Health and the European Research Council', viewed 20 March 2008, .
12 Leanne Harvey, 'Open access collections - The future of the accessibility framework and research assessment', viewed 20 March 2008 .
13 FOI Independent Review Panel, The right to information, The State of Queensland, Brisbane, 2008.

From: Discussion Paper of the Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee on the Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and Data, Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee, Parliament of Victoria, 2008

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Will the future of innovation be built on Open Foundations?

I am co-chairing one of the Local 2020 Summits, being held in Canberra today, on Open Source and Open Access. Presentations and discussion online. Podcasts and Vodcasts will be provided later.


Senator Kate Lundy

Senator for the Australian Capital Territory

Wednesday 2 April 2008

***EMBARGO until 6am Thursday 3 April 2008***

Will the future of innovation be built on Open Foundations?

ACT Senator Kate Lundy and Tom Worthington, Adjunct Senior Lecturer at The Australian National University are co-chairing a Local Summit in Canberra today that will explore the opportunities presented by open technology and digital knowledge.

"Having a Local Summit on the Foundations of Open Technology and Digital Knowledge will shine a spotlight on the important public policy ideas that are built on the principles of open standards and genuine collaboration from a community, education, business, innovation and government perspective" Senator Lundy said.

Speakers include ANU Acting Vice-Chancellor of the ANU Professor Lawrence Cram, delivering the keynote address, Pia Waugh,
President of Software Freedom International and will showcase some of the latest innovations using open technology.

Open access is best known in the software development field with Open Source, where technology is developed publicly and openly and exposed for comment and contribution throughout development. The same techniques can be applied to the distribution of information for research and education, such as open access publishing with the creative commons." Mr. Worthington said.

Mr. Worthington will give the first public demonstration of a new open access research publishing system being developed by ANU in Canberra for worldwide use and show a disaster management system developed for the Boxing Day Tsunami, which has been ungraded with Australian technical assistance for use by developing nations.

Pia Waugh, a long term advocate for technology openness sees the event as a very important milestone for Australian government policy. "A baseline of openness provides many opportunities for socio-economic and business development, sustainable technology/information, international collaboration and global competitiveness. Openness underpins our very ability to maintain equal access to opportunities and to each other in a world that is increasingly dependent on technology for everything from work and socialising to voting."

The 'Foundations of Open' technology and digital knowledge Local 2020 Summit will explore, discuss and develop specific policy initiatives borne out of open access for information, technology, education and governance for the benefit of our society and economy.

Ideas from "Foundations of Open" will be collated and conveyed to the National 2020 Summit". Presentations from the Local Summit will be available online via Tom Wothington's Web site and Kate Lundy's web site

Members of the public can participate in the Summit virtually by registering on the website to participate in online discussions and ideas development. The Summit will also be podcast online.

For more information or details about location if you wish to attend contact Rachel Allen: 6230 0411 or 0418 488 295

Foundations of Open: Technology and Digital Knowledge Local 2020 Summit

Thursday 3rd April 2008

College of Engineering and Computer Science
The Australian National University

9.00am Welcome and Introductions
9.15am Outline and Objectives: Co-Chairs Senator Kate Lundy and Tom Worthington FACS HLM, Adjunct Senior Lecturer, ANU and Director of Professional Development, The Australian Computer Society.

9.30am Launch and Keynote: Professor Lawrence Cram ANU Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President BSc (Hons), BE (Hons), PhD Sydney

9.45am Jeff Waugh "
Foundations of Open" The Foundations of Open is a model for understanding the different aspects of openness in a digital age including standards, knowledge, governance, source code and the market.

10.30am Darrell Burkey ANU "
CASE" - a case study in community. Computing Assistance Support and Education (CASE) inc. is a non-profit organisation that was formed to assist Australian community organisations in making better use of information technology.

11.15am Ken Taylor CSIRO "
VotaPedia" demonstration. VotApedia is an audience response system developed by CSIRO that doesn't require issuing clickers or need specialist infrastructure.

11.30am Coffee break

11.45am Pia Waugh "Open Source as a public resource" Specific ways we can better explore Open Source opportunities and innovations for business, government, broader social benefit and the Australian economy.

12.30pm Lunch hosted by ANU

1.00pm Demonstrations and networking time. Presentation by Andrew Tridgell
Tom Worthington will demonstrate carbon neutral and open source hardware, software and open access educational systems developed and used in Canberra, including a carbon neutral, energy efficient desktop computer, an open source software laptop and open hardware hand held computer as well as the first public demonstration of a new global open access research e-publishing system being developed in Canberra.

1.30pm Jessica Coates QUT "
Creative Commons" Access to knowledge is often difficult through the use of ambiguous or non-existent licensing. Creative Commons is a mechanism for opening up knowledge for public benefit.

2.15pm Alan Smart ASIBA "
Spatial potential" Geospatial information needs to be open so that Australian businesses can add value, innovate and commercialise in order to be globally competitive.

3pm Coffee break

3.15 Tony Hill ISOC AU "IPV6Now" IPv6 is a more powerful Internet protocol that can deliver a vastly increased scale Internet, with automatic security and autoconfiguration potentially producing substantial benefits for businesses, particularly in international e-commerce.

4pm Ann Steward AGIMO "
Open Source in Government" A summary of the use of, attitudes towards and emerging trends of, Open Source in Australian Government.

4.30pm Concluding remarks; Senator Kate Lundy

Supporters: Australian National University, TomW Communications Pty Ltd

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Make Australian Standards Open Access?

In my talk for the Canberra Society of Editors I suggested the Australian Government make its publications open access using a Creative Commons license.

The Productivity Commission has reported on the Australian Government’s relationship with Standards Australia Limited (SA).

If the Australian Government is willing to consider making its documents freely available on-line, it seems reasonable that Standards Australia should do likewise. There seems no good reason why the resulting documents should not be freely available on-line to Australians, who funded the standards development and wrote the standards for free.

SA could retain control over the content of the standards and continue to licence them commercially. SA floated it publishing arm on the Australian Stock exchange as SAI Global Limited some time ago.

ps: I represent the Australian Computer Society on the Council of Standards Australia, but the view expressed above is not necessarily that of the ACS.

Some related books:

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