[odc-discuss] Updates this week

Jordan S Hatcher jordan at opencontentlawyer.com
Wed Apr 1 07:28:10 UTC 2009

Hi Frederik

Thanks for the email.
On 28 Mar 2009, at 11:33, Frederik Ramm wrote:

> I wonder if, in addition to the document you are creating, there  
> will also be room for a kind of implementation-specific FAQ. E.g.  
> when someone like OSM decides to use the ODbL, should they perhaps  
> even be encouraged to issue a document that serves (technically  
> speaking) as a kind of "adapter" between the subject matter and the  
> ODbL, clarifying ODbL terms in domain speak.

This is exactly what we suggest with "Substantial" and generally with  
the licence as a whole.

> For example, ODbL might refrain from trying to define "substantial"  
> because such a definition is impossible in an abstract form; but to  
> be clear to the mapper on the street, OSM needs to issue a  
> definition they can understand (as in: "We consider it a substantial  
> extract if you take data covering more than one square kilometre" or  
> whatever). I cold imagine that, while not strictly part of the  
> license and not legally binding as such, a hypothetical future legal  
> action about alleged rights infringement could very well be  
> influenced by such a definition if made prominently by OSM.
> The same goes for those "when does database-ness stop and Produced  
> Work-ness begin during a design process" questions; they might be  
> very hard to answer in a general fashion.

This is spot on Frederik and ties into my earlier statements on this  
list about free/open licences being like constitutions:


>> Eben Moglen refers to the GPL as "the constitution of the free
>> software movement". The key bit that he's getting at is that unlike
>> other licences, free/open licences take on a life of their own, with
>> the community behind them dictating their interpretation (within the
>> scope of the written terms).  It's much like other written
>> constitutions, such as the US Constitution, which gets constant life
>> from interpretation and application to new settings.

Any sizable community already does this, including OSM with the  
current CC-BY-SA. You've already interpreted and adapted a content  
license specifically for your community, and even though everyone  
admits that it is not a smooth fit and may have incomplete legal  
coverage, you have mapped it on to your community.  This is a process  
that Wikipedia does as well as other open projects. Within CC, you see  
projects / users of the NonCommercial licences establish guidelines on  
what the consider "commercial". (For background, see <http://www.opencontentlawyer.com/2008/12/12/non-commercial-in-cc-licenses/ 
 > )

ODbL won't replace the need to build up this understanding -- in fact  
it depends on it.  Part of any community licence is community  
enforcement, and that comes from a common understanding.  The hope is  
that the process of "mapping" this licence onto Database communities  
like OSM will be much easier under this licence than with other  
options such as CC-BY-SA.

> If you plan to keep the "how to apply this license to your data"  
> guidelines at the bottom of the license text, then maybe you could  
> consider adding a paragraph to them that lists key points (like  
> substantial/insubstantial) that you cannot define in the license or  
> you own FAQ, and encourages the user of the license to clarify them  
> for his domain if he feels they might be unclear.

Agreed (and this is a good idea), though that might be better for a  
separate "how to apply" in-depth document simply referred to in the  
section at the end of the ODbL.



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