Essential standard for open data economy published by Open Knowledge

Oct. 7, 2014

Press Release


Essential standard for open data economy published by Open Knowledge

Open Definition version 2.0 Announced

Today Open Knowledge and the Open Definition Advisory Council are pleased to announce the release of version 2.0 of the Open Definition. The Definition sets out the essential principles that define openness in relation to data and content and plays a key role in supporting the growing open data ecosystem which has an estimated value of over $1 trillion.

Recent years have seen an explosion in the release of open data by dozens of governments including the G8. Recent estimates by McKinsey put the potential benefits of open data at over $1 trillion and other estimates put benefits at more than 1% of global GDP.

However, these benefits are at significant risk both from quality problems such as “open-washing” (non-open data being passed off as open) and from fragmentation of the open data ecosystem due to incompatibility between the growing number of “open” licenses.

The Open Definition plays a central role in ensuring the open data and open content economy will thrive by eliminating these risks of quality-dilution and fragmentation.

First published in 2005, the new version of the Open Definition is the most significant revision in the Definition’s nearly ten-year history and reflects more than a year of discussion and consultation within the community including input from experts involved in open data, open access, open culture, open education, open government, and open source. As well as major revisions to the text there is a new process for reviewing licenses which has been trialled with major governments including the UK.

Herb Lainchbury, Chair of the Open Definition Advisory Council, said:

“The Open Definition describes the principles that define “openness” in relation to data and content, and is used to assess whether a particular licence meets that standard. A key goal of this new version is to make it easier to assess whether the growing number of open licenses actually make the grade. The more we can increase everyone’s confidence in their use of open works, the more they will be able to focus on creating value with open works.”

Rufus Pollock, President and Founder of Open Knowledge said:

“Since we created the Open Definition in 2005 it has played a key role in the growing open data and open content communities. It acts as the “gold standard” for open data and content guaranteeing quality and preventing incompatibility. As a standard, the Open Definition plays a key role in underpinning the “open knowledge economy” with a potential value that runs into the hundreds of billions - or even trillions - worldwide.”

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Media contact: Susanne Kendler, Open Knowledge, email:, twitter @okfn, phone: 0044 (0)1223 422159

Notes to the Editor

  • For more information about the Open Definition including the updated version visit:
  • For background on why the Open Definition matters, read our article ‘Why the Open Definition Matters’
  • $1 trillion value of open data - see McKinsey report
  • 1% of global GDP - see
  • Open Knowledge, is a not-for-profit organisation. Since 2004 Open Knowledge has helped to grow a global open knowledge community. It is a worldwide network of people passionate about openness, using advocacy, technology and training to unlock information and enable people to use it to create and share knowledge to drive change.
  • For more information about Open Knowledge visit:

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