Free Software and Free Content

Open Data also received decisive impulses from the Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) movements, whose origins date back to the 1980s and whose representatives are in many respects pioneers of the various "Open" movements (Tacz, 2012), which are dealt with in detail in the Open XX course section.

The Free Software Foundation believes that users of a program should have unrestricted rights to run, copy, examine, modify, and distribute the software. Therefore, the GNU General Public License was created as one of the first standardized software licenses to grant users exactly these rights and to oblige the vendor of the software to release the source code (upon request if necessary) as well. In order to guarantee the "freedom" of this software, it may only be distributed under the same license conditions (copyleft / sharealike principle).

The Open Source movement, represented by the Open Source Initiative, builds on similar licensing models (with and without copyleft), but deliberately distances itself from the philosophical and political standpoints of the Free Software movement. One characteristic of the movement, however, is the shift from traditional software development principles to a development process based on openness, participation and collaboration. Open source pioneer Eric S. Raymond (Raymond, 1999) described the paradigm shift with the symbol of cathedrals and bazaars. Accordingly, traditional software like cathedrals would be created: A chief architect (leading software developer) leads a hierarchy of workers who build a large building according to secret plans, which is only made available to the public when it is completed (software release). The development of FLOSS software such as GNU / Linux, on the other hand, resembles the hustle and bustle of a bazaar: since the source code of the program is disclosed, the "blueprint" would be generally known. Moreover, open source software is not only released when it is mature, but often at an early stage and with short intervals between versions. The core team of software developers networks with the user and (partly volunteer) programmers and thus builds a community that is closely involved in the further development of the software. Typically, everyone is free to suggest improvements and become active in the development themselves. This increases the efficiency and innovation potential of the entire project: on the one hand, new ideas are introduced that would otherwise not have been considered, on the other hand, it is assumed that the feedback of many users makes it considerably easier for the development team to find errors in the program and their causes and to develop joint solution strategies.

Some of the arguments of Open Data advocates are similar at present: on the one hand, the public is said to have a certain right to facts and information (especially when their collection, such as in public administration and science, has been financed by taxpayers' money), on the other hand the involvement of third parties in a project, an organisation or in government action, for which the disclosure of information is a prerequisite, can both stimulate innovation and increase efficiency.

With the spread of the Internet, its importance as a platform for the exchange of information, documents, graphics and other creative works grew. However, there was also uncertainty as to which works may be used in which way without infringing copyrights. This problem was taken up by the Creative Commons organization founded in 2001 (Creative Commons, 2018). Inspired by the GNU Public License, Creative Commons has developed a series of standardized license agreements that enable creators of creative content to release the rights of use for their works in various gradations. These licenses continue to enjoy great international popularity today and are among the most important licenses that are also used for open data in their most permissive variants. With the so-called Linux clauses, adjustments were made to German copyright law in 2002 and 2008 to make it compatible with open licenses - here, too, the impetus initially came from the open source community (ifrOSS, 2018).

In the 2000s, projects with open content and open data gained popularity. Prominent examples are the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and the OpenStreetMap project for a free world map and open geodata.

With the Open Definition (Open Knowledge Foundation, 2006), published for the first time in 2006, the growing Open Data movement agreed on a general definition of the terms Open and Open Data, as well as the legal criteria of an Open Data licensing, which should allow the user as unrestricted a use of data as possible.