[odc-discuss] Database and Contents Distinction

Jonathan Rochkind rochkind at jhu.edu
Fri May 1 14:08:41 UTC 2009

I would reccommend that the FAQ include the kind of comparison beween 
the PDDL and the ODbL that you included in your last message.  The 
following text is extremely helpful, and I suggest should be in the FAQ, 
perhaps defining "homogenous" and "hetereogenous" first in the FAQ on 
"Why Do You Have Separate Licenses for the Database and its Contents?"

In general, I think the FAQ needs to address ALL the license options you 
are helping to create, not just the ODbL,.

Although actually more comments after the quote...


"To summarize:

1. For homogenous DB (No need to distinguish "Database" + "Contents")

Share-Alike: Use Open Database License (ODbL) + Database Contents
License (DbCL) (or some other suitable contents license of your

Public domain: Use Public Domain Dedication and License (PDDL)

2. For non-homogenous DB (so he

Share-alike: use ODbL for Database qua Database + whatever license you
wish/can for Contents

Public domain: use PDDL for Database qua Database + whatever license"
you wish/can for Contents.


When you say, in all cases "whatever license you wish/can for the 
Contents" -- part of the confusion is that with certain kinds of 
contents (like bibliographic records), it can be unclear what licenses 
are appropriate for them, becuase it can be unclear what rights cover 
them in what jurisidctions.

It's my understanding that both the PDDL (which can be applied to just 
certain records, right?), and the DbCL are intended for just this case 
-- doing what you want even with the uncertainty about what rights apply.

I suggest the FAQ should help us understand what licenses are 
appropriate for Contents. In what cases you might choose the PDDL for 
contents, in what cases you might choose the DbCL for contents, in what 
cases you might choose a CC license for contents, etc.


Rufus Pollock wrote:
> As part of the release of the ODbL v1.0 RC we created a FAQ on the
> Database/Contents distinction which can be found on:
> <http://www.opendatacommons.org/faq/licenses/>
> (I've also included the text below). As evidenced by recent
> discussions on this list this is an important point that people might
> get confused about so I'd be very interested to hear any
> comments/suggested improvements people may have.
> Regards,
> Rufus
> #### Why Do You Have Separate Licenses for the Database and its Contents?
> The simplest answer is because they may have separate rights. For
> example, consider a database of photographs. Here there are the rights
> in the database and quite separate individual copyrights in the
> photographs. Or consider the example of Freebase which contains
> textual material and images from Wikipedia as well as user contributed
> material. While Freebase controls the database the individual items of
> contents need to have their own separate license.
> Of course much of the time the the Licensor of the database is also in
> the position to license the rights (if any) in the contents -- the
> classic example would be a database containing factual data. For this
> reason we've created a very simple Database Contents License which you
> can use in conjunction with the ODbL to ensure that you've licensed
> everything.
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