Post by Frederik Ramm
What we could do is grant the foundation the right to dual-license the
data, either globally or to specific (paying?) users. But the license
that we now choose should remain fixed.
Post by Robert (Jamie) Munro
Long term, we can avoid the ambiguity by making it clear that all data
belongs to OSM, whoever that is (probably the foundation), then we can
let the foundation change the license whenever they need to.
This would be a copyright assignment, which would be a large change in
the relationship between the participants and the project. As far as I
understand it, it hasn't even been proposed.
I'd like to note that, just to clarify, factual data is generally not
copyrightable, and so there would be nothing to assign. Applying a
copyright licence to something that isn't copyrightable *might create
a contract but wouldn't create a copyright where one doesn't exist.
Post by Frederik Ramm
It depends on your view over the "copyrightability" of individual
If a singular piece of data is "copyrightable", then the 15-yeard-
right expires, but the individual copyrights do not.
A "singular piece of data" would not come under the database right
either. Database rights arise when there has been substantial
investment in obtaining verifying or presenting the contents of a
database. One piece of data, or a entire set of data without a
database doesn't get database rights.
Post by Frederik Ramm
If a singular piece of data is not "copyrightable", then the data
in the public domain.
It is without copyright, but depending on the data (not as relevant
for the geodata community admittedly) it could not be free to use --
think about personal data.
So, within the context of the ODC-DbL / FIL combo:
-- Factual data comes under the FIL and is free to use
-- The database as a whole comes under the ODC-DbL
The DbL/FIL is a "leaky ship" in that:
-- Copyright probably protects copying (and other restricted acts)
the entire database and (to varying degrees only parts of the
database) but doesn't say much of anything about taking all the data
and creating a new database
-- Database rights in Europe protect extracting and re-utlising
substantial amounts of the data apart from the database (so sucking
out all the data and creating a new database).
-- Outside of Europe, you are likely to rely on contract and other
law (possibly unfair competition claims). Contract claims are one-to-
one (in personam) and not one-against-everyone (in rem). This means
that it is harder to enforce your claims against people who received
the (uncopyrightable) data from someone who breached the contract.
In the protocol, FAQ, and other venues, Science Commons argues:
-- People think that copyright protects actions with databases that
it doesn't (such as getting all the data out and creating a new
-- What copyright does and doesn't protect in a database is really
tricky, even for IP experts, and so making the public try to parse
all the minute legal questions is overly burdensome and expensive
both in money (lawyer fees), time (spent wondering about the rights),
and lost opportunity (not using the database because of all the hassle)
-- Database rights legislation is bad policy and bad law and
shouldn't be used. See the European Commission's own review:
"First evaluation of Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of
"The economic impact of the ?sui generis? right on database
production is unproven. Introduced to stimulate the production of
databases in Europe, the new instrument has had no proven impact on
the production of databases. ***
Is ?sui generis? protection therefore necessary for a thriving
database industry? The empirical evidence, at this stage, casts
doubts on this necessity.
[They then go on to discuss repealing it, but conclude that it is
easier to leave it in place]"
-- Database rights are limited to Europe and so do not have worldwide
--Contract creates a barrier of opportunity and transaction costs
similar to copyright [above]. In addition, it is harder to enforce
against third parties after breach and so offers only limited
There has been some discussion of commercial data providers on this
list. I'm no expert in their practices, but they rely on:
-- IP rights such as copyright and database rights
-- contracts that prohibit re-distribution
**-- technical protection measures, passwords, that sort of thing
**-- providing value-added services that are clearly protected by
**-- marketing, branding, trade marks (and so on) that identify them
as a quality source of information
**-- better services than other providers
I think it's important to point out that commercial companies
protecting their data do not allow their users to share it, and so
most of their protection is based around this. By allowing others to
share the work freely, you lose many of these avenues of protection
(like technical protection measures, for example). So the model is
different. Where others have the same data (say US case law and
Westlaw versus Lexis), then they package it with other material and
brand themselves as the best place to go.
The SC point is that all this sort of stuff can be a real pain, and
isn't what you are really doing is wanting to create and manipulate
factual data? Why spend all the time on this when the innovation
happens in what you can do with the data, and not with trying to
protect the data in the first place.
The above is a generalization of the law and is not legal advice as
the picture is much more complex than above. I am actually a lawyer,
but I am not YOUR lawyer (if I was we'd have a contract for services
and you'd owe me a hefty retainer!)
Mr. Jordan S Hatcher, JD, LLM
jordan at opencontentlawyer dot com
OC Blog: http://opencontentlawyer.com
IP/IT Blog: http://twitchgamer.net
Open Data Commons
Usage of Creative Commons by cultural heritage organisations