[odc-discuss] Database Contents Licence

Jordan S Hatcher jordan at opencontentlawyer.com
Sat May 2 13:02:05 UTC 2009

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Rufus and I have been having an ongoing conversation about the role of  
the FIL.  I think that the way it has been structured and drafted has  
been confusing. Some comments back from the community have confirmed  
this. We also want to present a solution to make it really easy for  
people to use the ODbL.

So we have proposed:

-- creating a stripped down version of the FIL (less than one page) DONE
-- renaming it the "Database Contents Licence" (DbCL) for greater  
clarity and conformity with the ODbL DONE
-- naming the ODbL / DbCL combo ODbL+ and trying to make it really  
easy for people to apply both at once. IN PROGRESS

=Background of why we have the DbCL/FIL

The idea of the separate "Contents" licence is to cover any  
copyrightable material held within the database.  The ODbL works by  
concentrating on the database as a whole and not the actual contents  
(the data) within the database.  This is so it can work, for example,  
with projects like Freebase that use both GFDL and other licensed  
content within the database.  It's also so that the ODbL could be  
applied to a much simpler use case, such as a database of Flickr  
images with different licences (CC-BY and CC-BY-SA, for example).

The problem then becomes for databases consisting of primarily factual  
information (what we commonly think of as data), there may be some  
copyrightable content. Think of a database with lots of facts about  
the weather that also contains a text field with the field name "daily  
comment", where a weather researcher writes a one sentence line about  
the weather that day.

The field name is part of the ODbL, the text in that field is not.

The text in the field potentially has copyright. The factual data held  
in the rest of the database (all of the other "Contents") will not  
have copyright.

When making use of the weather database, under the ODbL, you will also  
be copying, distributing, etc the potentially copyrightable text in  
the text field (the weather researcher's daily weather line).  So the  
issue becomes making sure those rights are granted as well.

The DbCL catches the other half of the Database/Contents combo so that  
all the rights over a single db file are taken care of.

=Current draft of ODbL and schedule

I have reused the already commented on language from both the FIL  
(which was in public beta as well) and the ODbL in order to:
-- cut down on the need for a comment period (as there already has  
effectively been one for most of the relevant text)
-- provide for close integration with the ODbL

-- all the definitions of the ODbL are incorporated by reference
-- the Warranties and disclaimer are verbatim from the ODbL except for  
the change of "Database" to "Contents".

It also has some tweaks around some of the language of the FIL.



Mr. Jordan S. Hatcher
Head of Research

e: jordan.hatcher at ipvalueadded.com
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