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[libreplanet-discuss] Question about free (as in freedom) data from free

From: Pen-Yuan Hsing
Subject: [libreplanet-discuss] Question about free (as in freedom) data from free software
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2015 22:32:43 +0000


As I mentioned a couple months ago, I met some fellow scientists at a
conference, and asked them to continue development their wildlife
image analyses program as Free Software (as in Freedom). I was glad
that they were receptive to the idea (even though they keep going back
to calling it "open source".... oh well), so I think this is a good
first step!
At the moment they are still looking for funding for their next stage
of software development, so not much new progress has been made
(though if you know of funding sources for developing scientific Free
Software please do tell!).

However, in our conference call today about this software, one of our
colleagues brought up the issue of the *data* that's being processed
by the software. According to him, there will be two problems:

(1) If the data is released to the wider public, there might be other
scientists who would "steal" the data, publish the work/analyses on
it, preempt our efforts, and we won't end up being able to publish any
papers. Since peer-reviews scientific journal papers are the
"currency" with which academic performance is judged, we shouldn't
release our data because others might "steal" them. He said we should
at the very least embargo and restrict access to the data for e.g.
five years before releasing them.

(2) Since a lot of the data are photos of wild animals, what if some
of the animals are endangered or sensitive to human encroachment?
Since GPS metadata is associated with our images, what is a poacher
sees our data and use it to hunt down the endangered animal? He said
maybe we shouldn't release the data at all/ever, doing so would be
"irresponsible" and possibly cause great harm.

Be default, I think all scientific data should be completely released
under the equivalent of a CC-BY-SA 4.0 Intl license, or even into the
public domain. But when my colleague raised points (1) and (2) above,
I couldn't think of any good rebuttal!

I realise this mailing list focuses on Free Software, but in this case
I think the liberation of the *data* that the software processes is
very important, too.

So, what do people think about points (1) and (2)? If the expertise is
not on this mailing list, is there another place/forum where I can
discuss the issue of Free Data (as in Freedom), "open data", and "open
access"??? Thank you!

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