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Re: licence for Ontologies

From: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 15:07:01 +0200
Message-Id: <173F17BF-2819-11D9-8917-000A95D9FA7A@bblfish.net>
Cc: www-rdf-interest@w3.org, rdfweb-dev@vapours.rdfweb.org, atom-owl@googlegroups.com, bloged <users@bloged.dev.java.net>
To: Peter F. Patel-Schneider <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>

Note: I had cced atom-syntax whereas I meant to cc 
atom-owl@googlegroups.com in the previous mail.

On 27 Oct 2004, at 14:16, Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote:

> From: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
> Subject: Re: licence for Ontologies
> Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 11:54:53 +0200
>> Note: I have CCed a couple of other lists, especially the
>> www-rdf-interest list as I think this problem is more general than any
>> particular ontology, be it FOAF or Atom-OWL.
>> The original question was asked here:
>> <http://groups-beta.google.com/group/atom-owl/>
>> There I suggested that ontologies should perhaps have a license that 
>> is
>> more restrictive than the BSD license, in that they should allow free
>> copying, but only very limited changes, nevertheless allow isomorphic
>> ontologies to be developed (just change all the URI's) these being
>> completely free to use any of the language in the original.
>> -------------------------------------------
> [...]
> I don't see any particular technological reason to forbid unlimited
> changes.  One reason that I feel this way is that I haven't seen any
> reasonable distinction between reasonable and unreasonable changes.

That is what I was looking for. I have some intuition of what may be 
but don't know how it is best specified, if indeed it can be specified 
at all. Perhaps there is another way to think about this, where a BSD 
license suffices, but rules other than copyright can be used to the 
same effect... The question is quite open.

>> But what does not seem quite right is taking an ontology, and
>> redefining the terms to mean something completely different, or making
>> slight changes to the relations between the terms, yet still leaving
>> one the impression that one is speaking about the same thing,
>> especially as it seems so easy to make the difference obvious by
>> changing the URIs that compose the ontology.
> Yes, but there may be reasons to use the same names, such as being 
> able to
> communicate with other.  You may think that completely different
> redefinitions are not appropriate, but what about changing the 
> definition
> of a URI like http://www.whitehouse.gov/president from ``whoever was
> annointed by the supreme court'' to ``whoever really won the election 
> using
> the constitutional rules''?

That is a difficult one :-) because there seems to be a relationship 
between being anointed by the supreme court and really winning using 
the constitutional rules, since the supreme court is the final arbiter 
of the meaning of the constitutional rules.

So perhaps if we switch to a simpler example would we have more of a 
chance of getting a grasp of the intuition I am expressing, and develop 
rules that would make sense of this subtle case...

	But I think I can see where you are trying to take me. There may be 
different, logically equivalent or extensionally equivalent ways of 
rewriting an ontology. Your redefinition may be logically equivalent 
given some information about the supreme court, or it may be just 
extensionally equivalent, given that all past cases would fit either of 
these definitions.

	If we distribute the above ontology under a BSD licence, would we not 
allow people to redefine http://www.whitehouse.gov/president to be the 
president of any association that is headquartered in a house that 
happens to be painted white? And would that not be quite opposite to 
the rights that we really wanted to give away?

Henry Story

> [...]
> Peter F. Patel-Schneider
> Bell Labs Research
Received on Wednesday, 27 October 2004 13:07:10 UTC

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