In navigating the landscape of technology and digital innovation, we often find ourselves having to deal with complex concepts that cross between the technical, policy and legal domains. We hear words like “open source”, “open data”, and “open standards” thrown around, each with its attached notions of transparency, accessibility, and collaboration. However, these concepts aren’t as interchangeable as they might seem, and it’s crucial to understand the different rules that govern each. Bear in mind too that the term “IP” or “intellectual property” is really a catch-all term for a bag full of different types of rights, including copyright (which can apply to software, as a so-called literary work), database rights, patents, trade marks, and more. As someone who has served as an Open Source & Open Standards Strategy Director, worked for the Open Data Institute, and sat on the Open Standards Board for the UK Government, I’ve seen first-hand the nuances that define and differentiate these domains. This understanding is crucial as we cannot simply transfer licenses or IP guidelines from one sphere to another, owing to their unique features and scopes. This post was prompted by a few examples I’ve seen this year where people are either misunderstanding the differences between these domains, or conflating them. Having said all that: I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. I did not say this. I am not here. Open Source licenses: Code Reuse The term “open source” generally refers to a type of software whose source code is accessible to the public, allowing …

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