14 Jul 2010   |   News

Southampton makes Computer Science data openly available for commercial use


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The School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at Southampton University has released all its public data in open linked data format, for reuse by the public. This includes data about research papers, employees of ECS, research groups, teaching modules, seminars and events, buildings and rooms.

All public (RDF) data from http://rdf.ecs.soton.ac.uk and http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk, is now available and can be reused for any legal purpose, including derivative works and commercial use. ECS has chosen a creative commons public domain (CC0) license to allow the data to be reused.  

The move is inspired by two ECS professors, Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt.

Christopher Gutteridge, ECS Web Projects Manager, said, “We believe that in the future this will become common practice for certain types of open data, and it is our responsibility to lead the way in setting the standards of best practice.

“We have decided not to make attribution of our data a legal requirement, as this makes it difficult to create large scale mashups.

“So, rather than must attribute’, our policy is ‘please attribute’. Obviously an attribution would be nice, but we don’t want to restrict innovation by requiring it under all circumstances.”

Shadbolt said the university has pioneered some of the most important developments in the Semantic Web and Open Access in recent years. “This announcement will ensure more data is released in the right format to enable new innovative uses of the information. This kind of open data policy will become the standard by which all public institutions are judged. Working with the UK government over the past year Tim Berners-Lee and I have been looking to change everyone’s attitude to data.”

Shadbolt added, “Publicly-held non-personal data is now being released all over the country and as this continues we’ll see innovation to exploit it and applications that use it.” Examples include mapping information held by the UK Ordnance Survey.

All the ECS information released is available as HTML on the School’s websites. Contact details of people are only included if they have previously opted into the university’s public directory.

“What’s new about what we are doing now is that by providing the RDF we are making it possible for other computers to understand the information,” says Christopher. “We have no idea how people will reuse our data but we are excited to find out”

More information on the available data from ECS: http://id.ecs.soton.ac.uk/docs/

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