Machine-readable and structured data

5-star Open Data

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web and Linked Data, has created a rating system for data on the web. Each star represents better qualities for the data to be more usable and interoperable.

Open license

First, your data must be openly licensed, so that others can reuse it. This way, you are giving anyone who is interested a permission to re-use the data for their purposes. An openly licensed pdf qualifies for one star, but it’s still hard to reuse.


Machine-readable structured data

Second, you want the data to be readable and organized in a way that a computer can process it. Structured data in a spreadsheet can be sorted, filtered, and visualized.


Open format

Third, you do not want the re-users to have to buy specific software to be able to access the data. That’s why you want to make it available in a non-proprietary open format, for example by using CSV instead of Excel.


Unique identifiers

Things cannot always be identified based on natural language. To be able to distinguish, let’s say Finnish lakes by the name of Pyhäjärvi from one another, you will need to have unique identifiers for them. The fourth star is granted for the use of URIs, Uniform Resource Identifiers, and other open standards from W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium.


Linked Open Data

The fifth star comes from linking your data on the web in a way that it uses data defined elsewhere rather than records the same data over and over again. Linked data does this.


Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons licenses allow creators to grant public permission to reuse their work, without needing to agree individually each time, as long as the conditions for the license are met.

Four conditions

Six licenses

Attribution CC BYimage

This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Attribution ShareAlike CC BY-SAimage

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

Attribution-NoDerivs CC BY-NDimage

This license lets others reuse the work for any purpose, including commercially; however, it cannot be shared with others in adapted form, and credit must be provided to you.

Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NCimage

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SAimage

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-NDimage

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Approved for Free Cultural Works

The first two of the four conditions are considered suitable for open culture. Wikimedia Commons only accepts media that is licensed with a CC BY-SA or less restrictive license. It is also Wikipedia’s license.

The more restrictive conditions are not considered to be in the spirit of open knowledge, but they are useful tools as an alternative to full copyright. Works licensed with these conditions cannot be included in Wikimedia projects.

Copyright 101

What is copyright?

Every time you create something – a photograph, text, or any kind of intellectual workcopyright is automatically created.

The creator and the work

The creator is always a human being or a group of humans.

The work must reach a threshold of originality to be protected by copyright. A simple photograph can be protected by related rights.

What does copyright do?

Copyright protects the moral and economic rights of the creator.

Moral rights will for example protect your right to be attributed as the creator.

Economic rights give you the exclusive right to reproduce the work and make it available to the public in the original or in an altered form.

What is licensing?

The copyright holder can license economic rights to another actor contractually. You can only license what you hold the copyright for.

When does copyright protection end?

Copyright does not exist forever. In Europe, the copyright is in effect for 70 years after the creator died. Related rights for simple photographs expire 50 years after production in Finland.

Public Domain

After copyright expires, the work enters Public Domain, where the work can be freely copied, altered and sold. A work can enter Public Domain also by waiving copyright expressly, or if copyright is not applied for the type of work. The Public Domain state can also be called the Commons.

What is Open GLAM?

OpenGLAM stands for the efforts of the networks of professionals and advocates that promote free and open access to digital cultural heritage held by Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.

The global OpenGLAM network was initiated by the Open Knowledge Foundation. Today, the network is additionally supported by Creative Commons and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wikimedia volunteers and chapters run GLAM-Wiki collaborations with GLAM organisations and Creative Commons hosts the Open GLAM platform.

The OpenGLAM Declaration

In 2013, the OpenGLAM working group drafted a set of OpenGLAM Principles. In 2020, they will be revised.

We believe it’s time for the cultural sector to follow in the steps of Open Access in scientific publishing and Open Educational Resources and to publicly stand behind Open Access. Hundreds of cultural organizations and platforms, spearheaded by leading institutions like the Rijksmuseum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Europeana, have already embraced Open Access policies.

These topics are considered for the renewed principles:

  • Power Imbalances
  • Accessibility
  • From Decolonization to Indigitization 
  • Traditional Knowledge
  • Privacy and Sensitivity
  • Sustainability (Practical and Environmental)
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • GLAM-Generated Intellectual Property

OpenGLAM / GLAMWiki activities around the world

Follow OpenGLAM