Open definition

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The Open Definition, first released by Open Knowledge in 2005, sets out under what conditions data and content is open. The “standard” provided by the Open Definition is crucial because much of the value of open data lies in the ease with which different sources of open data can be combined. Both legal and technical compatibility is vital, and the Open Definition ensures that openly-licensed data can be combined successfully, avoiding a proliferation of licences and terms of use for open data leading to complexity and incompatibility. As governments and organisations jostle to wear the ‘open’ label, the Open Definition ensures that the term does not lose its meaning amid the hype. Today it is the main international standard for open data and open data licences, with an advisory council of senior open data practitioners and can be found at The expert-governed licence conformance process and recommendations for conformance have strengthened licences around the world, for example, in the revision of the UK Government’s internationally influential “Open Government Licence”. The Open Definition has also influenced and steered other communities of practice in the open movement, including open access to publicly-funded research, open hardware, and more. See open data for a summary.