A question about open databases license

Heiki “Repentinus” Ojasild repentinus at fsfe.org
Wed Dec 3 17:28:05 UTC 2014

Dear Michel,

[This is a personal opinion, and has not been discussed with team at .]

On 12/03/2014 05:04 PM, Michel Roche wrote:
> I'm currently doing some research about the best way(s) to publish open
> data for a local administration.

The best way for public administrations is *always* public domain or
CC0. The taxpayer has already paid for the production of that data, and
frankly the state has no business telling its customers how they may or
may not use the data they have paid for.

> 1-the database : shape files with routes and POI about a region.

It is absolutely necessary for an European public administration to
waive any database rights they may have in the data collection (or
license those rights ­– IIRC new CC licences cover that avenue).
Otherwise a two tier system will result where European data users will
be restricted by database rights, and the American ones will be not (the
US does not recognize db rights).

> 2-the context : the administration makes some money selling a walking
> guide using those informations

The fact that the administration makes money selling a walking guide
should have no influence on the discussion. Merchandise sales are not a
core competency of any public administration; if it helps them to
popularize the area, it is OK to engage in such activities; however, if
a private party were to take the data and started to produce better
guides, the administration's primary goal of popularizing the area would
still be fulfilled. In fact, this would probably free up the
administration's resources to better handle its core functions.

> 3-the aim : opening those data so that eventual reuses will publish
> correct information about pathes, dangers, etc.

This cannot be ensured by any free licensing scheme. It is important to
recognize that the administration will not be responsible for malicious
or grossly negligent undertakings of any private party.

> 4-the dilemma : open publishing those information may serve any
> competitor editor to build a competiting guide upon those data

This would be a good thing!

> 5-the question : how licensing could help preventing such an usage while
> welcoming more friendly reuses such as : a promotional guide for hiking
> in the area that would reuse some of the data for the sake of promotion.

This should not be avoided.

> Let's assume the competitor wants to use the shape files under CC-BY-SA
> along with a closed base map bought from a vendor to have a nice looking
> printed guide.
> => publishing such a reuse of the data seems to lead to a licences
> conflict : the closed license would say something like "all rights
> reserved, reproduction forbidden", where the CC-BY-SA part would claim
> "any reuse of this data will be under this same license"
> => How to solve that ? If it' not solvable, this means that the
> commercial reuse cases of the data opened under CC-BY-SA are quite a
> complicated way, which I find a reasonable manner to solve the original
> dilemma

This seems like a possible licence violation, but would be better left
to the potential parties' lawyers to sort out.

In any case, public administrations to serve the public. They do not
exist to make profit or hoard public resources. That is the best way to
solve such conundrums.

Heiki “Repentinus” Ojasild
Fellowship Representative
Free Software Foundation Europe
mailto:repentinus at fsfe.org
xmpp:repentinus at jabber.fsfe.org

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