[odc-discuss] Concerns about the ODBL preventing copying cost recovery

MJ Ray mjr at phonecoop.coop
Fri Aug 20 13:06:54 UTC 2010

Jordan S Hatcher wrote:
> On 19 Aug 2010, at 18:46, MJ Ray wrote:
> > I have a question about ODBL - is clause 4.6 satisfied by offering an
> > offline copy even if the Produced Work or Derived Database is online,
> > and does "free of charge" prevent charging for the cost of copying?
> > 
> >    "The Derivative Database (under a.) or alteration file (under b.) must be
> >    available at no more than a reasonable production cost for physical
> >    distributions and free of charge if distributed over the internet."
> As Eben Moglen says, the GPL is like a constitution of the free
> software movement.  Similarly, I see the ODbL as document where
> consensus and best practices arrived at through discussion form an
> important part of using the license.

I'm not aware of past discussion of this clause.  How does one
find such discussion?

> I can't really be an "official voice" of exactly how it should be
> interpreted, as you might have a different interpretation.

So should I ask every licensor their interpretation of these
unclear points?

> So if you'll allow me answering your question with a question:
> Do you think that based on 4.6:
> -- that "free of charge" means without any monetary fee whatsoever?
> -- that an offline copy would satisfy the conditions of the license?

I asked because I do not feel that I can resolve this based on 4.6
because it is not clear!

As I understand it in general:

- "free of charge" means without any fee (not only monetary) whatsoever;

- an offline copy would satisfy the conditions because there appears
to be no linking of the distribution of the Produced Work to the
distribution of the DD or alteration file.

However, that interpretation of the offline copy bit was questioned on
the debian-legal email list, so it's probably not obvious to some; and
that interpretation of "free of charge" would mean that ODbL is
effectively a "Non-Commercial" licence in some fields of endeavour and
therefore incompatible with general principles of Free and Open Source
Software...  which is fine, of course, as long as it's widely
understood by licensors and various communities.

Hope that helps,
MJ Ray (slef) Webmaster and developer for hire at | software
www.software.coop http://mjr.towers.org.uk        |  .... co
IMO only: see http://mjr.towers.org.uk/email.html |  .... op

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