A question about open databases license

David Boddie dboddie at fsfe.org
Thu Dec 11 16:07:34 UTC 2014

Sorry to jump into this discussion a bit late. I heard that meteorological
data was mentioned in this thread but only just managed to register with
the list. I'm replying to an earlier message because the discussion gets
into quite detailed questions about uses of database licenses later on.

On Wed Dec 3 18:04:30 CET 2014, Michel Roche wrote:

> I'm currently doing some research about the best way(s) to publish open
> data for a local administration. For many of the data they wish/can
> publish the license question is quite straightforward, but there's one
> database which raises much questions. I try to expose the problem as
> simply as possible:
> 1-the database : shape files with routes and POI about a region.
> 2-the context : the administration makes some money selling a walking
> guide using those informations
> 3-the aim : opening those data so that eventual reuses will publish
> correct information about pathes, dangers, etc.
> 4-the dilemma : open publishing those information may serve any
> competitor editor to build a competiting guide upon those data
> 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.

I understand the concerns around incorrect re-use of data. I think my
employer tries to address that by using a license that allows re-use but
requires attribution (CC BY 3.0) and one I'm not familiar with (NLOD) which
includes a section on proper use.


As to points 4 and 5, I think it's possible to choose very open licenses that
encourage re-use of data in ways that are beneficial to society. Merely
requiring attribution may be enough to dissuade users of the data from simply
repackaging and reselling it, since they would be required to acknowledge
where the data came from.

I believe that I read somewhere that even that modest requirement puts off
would-be users of OpenStreetMap data, for example.

I tried to find presentations from colleages that talk about the motivations
behind making data available under open licenses. In the end, I found this


It makes a point about the trade-off between revenue generation and the
overall benefit to society:

"The institute decided to stop selling weather information that was produced
 by the core service. Hence, all data and products that you can see on yr.no
 as numbers, figures and animations are available as open data. The
 consequence was that we gave up a marginal income in favour for the society
 at large."

Unfortunately, public agencies are often required to raise funds for
themselves by governments who want to be seen as being tough on public
spending. However, it is good to remember where the money comes from in the
first place, as others have mentioned, and this is also covered in the talk

"The new openness is about making the results of our work available to the
 public, the ones that funds our service. Our work should be available for
 re-use with no restrictions. We believe that allowing re-users to have free
 access to data will have a huge potential to become an important
 contribution to foster innovation and value creation in the business


David Boddie

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