[odc-discuss] input/output Licensing

Jordan S Hatcher jordan at opencontentlawyer.com
Sun Nov 8 17:15:16 UTC 2009

On 6 Nov 2009, at 15:19, Marco Milanesi wrote:

>> As I understood Marco, it is not *his* data - he has written a  
>> program
>> and now he wants to make sure that if a third party uses his program,
>> this causes the third party to have to license *their* data in a  
>> certain
>> way.
> exactly Frederik, we are speculating on this option from a 'cover all
> licensing point of view' for ALL the people that use the software

The background, and why Marco I took your email the way I did, is that  
Roberta had emailed me privately about data licensing from the  
perspective of only looking at the database.  Frederik - thanks for  
seeing it the other way and pointing it out!

I think that there is some confusion between:

-- the desire to cover all the bases from a licensing point of view
-- what the bases are to cover.

Tying the licensing of software and the stuff dealt with by that  
software together is not generally how you do that, and as Frederik  
and Clark mention, isn't how the GPL covers this situation (and most  
if not all free/open licenses, or even lots of commercial licenses).

So if you produce both software and databases/data, what needs to be  
covered is:

-- software
-- stuff that you produce (database, data, images, text etc).  I  
usually say database/contents instead of data because too many people  
assume data only means factual information, when a database can be of  

How you do that with open licenses would be:

-- Software (GPL, LGPL, MIT, BSD, etc)
-- Stuff 
----- Database/Contents (ODbL/ DbCL or PDDL or CC0)
----- Images, text, other content (Creative Commons open licenses,  
which are CC-BY and CC-BY-SA)

You need two (or more) licenses to do all the work required.

Sounds like you already made the first step for software, and now have  
other stuff that you happen to use with this software that you want to  
release to the public and need to find a license to make that choice  
clear to your users.

So for this stuff (database/contents images text etc), you can either  
go public domain (PDDL or CC0), copyleft for the database (ODbL), and  
one single license or many licenses for the contents of those databases.

Making THIS choice is different than the software choice in terms of  
how it fits into an organisation's goals as your database/contents has  
a different relationship to what you do as an org.  So if, for  
example, you were trying to establish a global standard and wanted to  
be totally and completely transparent about the data you use for that  
standard, you *may* want to consider a public domain approach for the  
data, but GPL for your software tools.  If you were say, a  
collaborative online mapping site, a copyleft database approach may  
fit your model better :-)  This all depends on you and your goals.




Mr. Jordan S Hatcher, JD, LLM

More at: <http://www.jordanhatcher.com>
Co-founder:  <http://www.opendatacommons.org>

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