Submitted Comments on the 'Government Open Data Use License - India'

Posted by Anubha Sinha at Jul 26, 2016 09:20 AM |
The public consultation process of the draft open data license to be used by Government of India has ended yesterday. Here we share the text of the submission by CIS. It was drafted by Anubha Sinha, Pranesh Prakash, and Sumandro Chattapadhyay.


The following comments on the 'Government Open Data Use License - India' was drafted by Anubha Sinha, Pranesh Prakash, and Sumandro Chattapadhyay, and submitted through the MyGov portal on July 25, 2016. The original submission can be found here.

I. Preliminary

  1. This submission presents comments by the Centre for Internet and Society (“CIS”) [1] on the draft Government Open Data Use License - India (“the draft licence”) [2] by the Department of Legal Affairs.

  2. This submission is based on the draft licence released on the MyGov portal on June 27, 2016 [3].

  3. CIS commends the Department of Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India for its efforts at seeking inputs from various stakeholders prior to finalising its open data licence. CIS is thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of the discussion during the framing of the licence; and to provide this submission, in furtherance of the feedback process continuing from the draft licence.

II. Overview

  1. The Centre for Internet and Society is a non-governmental organisation engaged in research and policy work in the areas of, inter alia, access to knowledge and openness. This clause-by-clause submission is consistent with CIS’ commitment to safeguarding general public interest, and the interests and rights of various stakeholders involved. Accordingly, the comments in this submission aim to further these principles and are limited to those clauses that most directly have an impact on them.

III. Comments and Recommendations

  1. Name of the Licence: CIS recommends naming the licence “Open Data Licence - India” to reflect the nomenclature already established for similar licences in other nations like the UK and Canada. More importantly, the inclusion of the word ‘use’ in the original name “Government Open Data Use License” is misleading, since the licence permits use, sharing, modification and redistribution of open data.

  2. Change Language on Permissible Use of Data: The draft licence uses the terms “Access, use, adapt, and redistribute,” which are used in UNESCO’s definition of open educational resources, whereas, under the Indian Copyright Act [4], it should cover “reproduction, issuing of copies,” etc. To resolve this difference, we suggest the following language be used: “Subject to the provisions of section 7, all users are provided a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to all rights covered by copyright and allied rights, for the duration of existence of such copyright and allied rights over the data or information.”

  3. Add Section on the Scope of Applicability of the Licence: It will be useful to inform the user of the licence on its applicability. The section may be drafted as: “This licence is meant for public use, and especially by all Ministries, Departments, Organizations, Agencies, and autonomous bodies of Government of India, when publicly disclosing, either proactively or reactively, data and information created, generated, collected, and managed using public funds provided by Government of India directly or through authorized agencies.”

  4. Add Sub-Clause Specifying that the Licence is Agnostic of Mode of Access: As part of the section 4 of the draft licence, titled ‘Terms and Conditions of Use of Data,’ a sub-clause should be added that specifies that users may enjoy all the freedom granted under this licence irrespective of their preferred mode of access of the data concerned, say manually downloaded from the website, automatically accessed via an API, collected from a third party involved in re-sharing of this data, accessed in physical/printed form, etc.

  5. Add Sub-Clause on Non-Repudiability and Integrity of the Published Data: To complement the sub-clause 6.e. that notes that data published under this licence should be published permanently and with appropriate versioning (in case of the published data being updated and/or modified), another sub-clause should be added that states that non-repudiability and integrity of published data must be ensured through application of real/digital signature, as applicable, and checksum, as applicable. This is to ensure that an user who has obtained the data, either in physical or digital form, can effectively identify and verify the the agency that has published the data, and if any parts of the data have been lost/modified in the process of distribution and/or transmission (through technological corruption of data, or otherwise).

  6. Combine Section 6 on Exemptions and Section 7 on Termination: Given that the licence cannot reasonably proscribe access to data that has already been published online, it is suggested that it would be better to simply terminate the application of the licence to that data or information that ought not to have been published for grounds provided under section 8 of the RTI Act, or have been inadvertently published. It should also be noted that section 8 of the RTI Act cannot be “violated” (as stated in Section 6.g. of the draft licence), since it only provides permission for the public authority to withhold information, and does not impose an obligation on them (or anyone else) to do so. The combined clause can read: “Upon determination by the data provider that specific data or information should not have been publicly disclosed for the grounds provided under Section 8 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, the data provider may terminate the applicability of the licence for that data or information, and this termination will have the effect of revocation of all rights provided under Section 3 of this licence.”

  7. It will be our pleasure to discuss these submissions with the Department of Legal Affairs in greater detail, supplement these with further submissions if necessary, and offer any other assistance towards the efforts at developing a national open data licence.

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