Open Data Commons - Licence now out

Alex Hudson home at
Wed Sep 26 12:43:54 UTC 2007

Thanks for finding this, MJ.

On Wed, 2007-09-26 at 13:03 +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> One problem caused by Europe for free software is database licensing,
> which isn't quite the same as copyright over databases. Someone has
> published a first draft of an open data licence to try to cover this.
> Is this useful for free software or not?

Personally, I think it absolutely is: there are many examples of
databases which make free software useful, from dictionaries to speech
synthesis audio libraries, and the fact that they don't have database
licenses at the moment somewhat casts a shadow over them.

> I'm slightly concerned about the triple-whammy of database licensing,
> copyright licensing and a contract.

I think copyright + database right is pretty much essential because of
the differing jurisdictions: many places you can't copyright databases,
some places you can, and some places you get a copyright-like database

The contractual aspect also seems unavoidable: see, e.g., the section on
moral rights: "If waiver is not possible, Licensor agrees not to assert
any moral rights mentioned above over the Database". Agreement between
parties means "contract" pretty much.

Maybe it's possible to phrase that kind of thing as "Licensor offers a
non-exclusive and irrevocable promise not to assert any moral rights .."
type thing, but frankly I'd be much more comfortable with a contract :)

> I'm very happy to see the confusing CC-style anti-TPM wording made
> irrelevant by permitting parallel distribution.

Yeah. I'm also very happy to see an LGPL-style copyleft; I don't see how
a full copyleft can work properly in the database rights arena without
preventing people from doing useful stuff with databases.

> There's also an Open Data Factual Info Licence which puzzles me a bit
> because *information* is not covered by copyright, only the expression
> (the licence also seems to state this in point 2.4), so it seems a bit
> unnecessary.

I think the idea is that the factual info license covers the database as
a whole, contents and all. The ODL itself seeks to only cover the
database rights: the collection of contents and the

As an example, if you had a database of books which contained the texts
of the books themselves, if those books were in copyright you'd have to
use the ODL because you can't license the copyright of the books. If
they were Gutenberg books, you could use the ODFIL because you can
license the job lot. (Ignoring the obvious issue in the first case where
you probably don't have the rights to redistribute the database
anyway ;)

That's my understanding/reading of it, anyway.



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