The German legal scholar and lawyer Dr. Till Kreutzer has written a legal guide titled “Open Data – Releasing data from library catalogues” at the request of the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center (hbz).
For some time now there has been a strong effort in opening up data from library catalogues, see for instance these lists of library data sources. For many libraries, diverse and sometimes complex legal questions are an obstacle to also publish open data. The legal guide shall give some orientation. It is intended for employees of public and academic libraries and especially for people without a legal background.
In Part 1 the guide deals with legal questions that occur in the creation of catalogues: It is explained whether individual parts of a catalogue can be copyrighted and, if yes, under which conditions. Then it is examined under which conditions data providers have a sui generis database right on complete databases.
Part 2 of the guide addresses the issue under which conditions a library or related institution can publish a database as open data. Finally, licenses to use for opening up catalogue data are recommended.
The guide is available under a Creative Commons Attribution license, and the author and publisher encourage wider distribution of the text.
This text is a freely translated and slightly changed version of an announcement by the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center (hbz). Disclaimer: The hbz is Adrian Pohl’s employer.