Greater access to information allows reciprocities of understanding between communities and professional, as well as between different disciplines. It affirms that carved stones are a resource for all. It creates opportunities to input local value and broadens the context for engaging with carved stones, particularly from local to national. Ready access to data creates bridges between different disciplines and generates opportunities to involve different communities in research and analysis as well as data collection. The Reflections on terminologies: Case Study 28 outlines the main steps needed to help make this aspiration a reality. In particular, the accessibility of information plays a fundamental part of the social value of digital records, which research suggests struggles to draw people in emotionally (e.g. Jeffrey et al. 2015).
While greater access to data, particularly through digital dissemination modes, has clear benefits, it also highlights some legacy issues around copyright, licensing, reuse and charging for data. The key holders of carved stones datasets include local and national government bodies, academic departments, commercial units and community groups. In addition to the varied means of gaining access (e.g. from immediate direct download to a requirement for written request for individual data), each of these may have different approaches to how they wish to share their data and for what purposes. This can vary from complete and unfettered open access with no effective licensing restrictions, to a charge for supply and strict conditions on reuse, particularly commercial reuse. An argument has been made that information generated via public funding should in turn be made freely available to the public. This has been the strategic approach for a number of UK and Scottish Government (see Scottish Government 2015) datasets in other sectors using the Open Government Licence (OGL) regime; for example, a number (but not all) Ordnance Survey datasets are available under this regime, which includes commercial reuse. Similarly other licencing regimes, such as Creative Commons, allow multiple forms of licencing, from no restrictions at all (CC0) to versions including no commercial reuse, restrictions on data adaptations, ‘share alike’ clauses and a requirement to attribute the original data creator. While even Creative Commons struggles to map onto IPR, copyright and licensing regimes in every international jurisdiction, the ability for data creators to confidently share their data assured that they will attributed as the original creator is often enough for many researchers in the academic and community domains. To be comfortable with commercial reuse of one’s data with only an attribution requires a commitment to the concept of ‘open data’ (as opposed to ‘open access’) at its most fundamental, bearing in mind open does not necessarily mean free. Although this approach is currently being advocated widely by various groups internationally, many data creators feel less comfortable with this. In addition it must be recognised that for some organisations their data, especially in media formats, are historically considered as having a financial as well as research value and they operate under historic licencing regimes that reflect this. Ideological positions that might promote ‘open data’ at its most fundamental may have to be tempered with an understanding of the complexities of historic licensing regimes and the financial imperatives under which some data holders operate.