[odc-discuss] MEDILIG project with OdBL + GPL License - Discussion

Athanassios I. Hatzis hatzis at healis.gr
Thu Jul 29 20:45:12 UTC 2010

Hi there,
I read both your FAQ and the full text of ODbL. I would like to highlight a
few points based on the application of ODbL to the MEDILIG project.
So the easiest way to do this is with Q&A. You will read my personal
opinion. I am not an expert on licensing. My answer might be far from right
or perfect and therefore please do comment.

1) Why do you apply two licenses ODbL and GPL for the MEDILIG project ?
MEDILIG project is a software product/service and it also includes a
database. The use of the database cannot be covered with a GPL license.

2) Software is normally covered by software licenses. Why did not you apply
only GPL license ?
Because as far as I know GPL does not tell you anything about who controls
the database and what are the rights of the user on the database.
For example consider the deployment scenario where the software is open but
the database is locked!
Does the user have the right to unlock the database, does he have the right
to export or import his data from/to the database and in what extent? Can he
create a derivative database or use the existing one collectively as part of
other system developed?
This is where OdBL comes to grant rights to the user!!! It is section 3.0
and 4.0 of the full license that brings revolution to the open software
community and that has NOT been stressed emphatically on your site I believe
;-) Yes, perhaps you can find a lot of open and free software out there but
not open and free databases. In fact your license protects user's data as
the user has the right to ask full permission and access by any means on the
database resources. There are too many implications on that issue and I will
not go deeper. HEALIS supports open standards and open access to the data.
We do believe that the user should have these database rights. 
More on this at page 10 of MEDILIG MSAccess user guide.

3) What parts of the database you cover with OdBL ?
Section 2.2a of OdBL license says that it is likely to cover database model
or schema. Yes, but you cannot cover the specific implementation of the
database schema, e.g. Microsoft SQL Server implementation. You can do that
only by GPL because it is coding. Another useful distinction between OdBL
and GNU GPL.

4) What about the contents of the DATABASE ?
Well it is clearly noted at the same section 2.2a that OdBL does not cover
the copyright over the Contents INDEPENDENT of this Database. It sounds
ambiguous here, perhaps someone can clear it further. In any case what I
want to distinguish for non-technical users is that there is the content of
look-up tables which is usually static, it hardly ever changes, and the
content of main tables where you expect to find all sort of information that
is added dynamically or exists such as factual data, images, etc. In my
opinion there should be a distinction on the previous from the latter
because look-up data is part of the design of the database and usually the
developer/designer of the database has the copyright on them. On the
contrary data that the user added on an empty database delivered by the
developer have a separate copyright. To solve this ambiguity I applied GPL
on the implementation where it fills also the look-up tables with data. 

5) Explain a bit about the data you hope to release ?
This is the question of Jonathan Gray on the 6th of July 2010, time to
answer it :-D
Data has already been released. The main contribution is the data on the
look-up tables and you can find an analytic description of them if you
download the MEDILIG MSQL v1.0 user guide that is located at

The copyright of this data release has to do with the set of factual data
(health coding terms) that have been selected to describe each look-up
entity table. the work on translating them, adding abbreviations and
explanations on the coding terms and most important the specificity of data
to cover sufficiently the neurosurgical practice. I hope others that use the
software on a different medical specialty or a different health care domain
will release their look-up data too.

I wish to thank all the people at OKFN for the OdBL license. Part of this
post will be put on my blog at HEALIS (http://healis.eu) but yes I would
like to see part of it on your blog too.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jordan S Hatcher [mailto:jordan at opencontentlawyer.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 3:04 PM
To: Athanassios I. Hatzis
Cc: odc-discuss at lists.okfn.org
Subject: Re: [odc-discuss] version 1.1 of OdBL?

Hi Athanassios

Have you taken a look at the Licenses FAQ -- I think that this will help
with some of the questions below.




On 16 Jul 2010, at 12:52, Athanassios I. Hatzis wrote:

> Hi there,
> it seems to me that there is confusion on the air, especially from non-IT
> people between "static" data that appear in database look-up tables and
> dynamic data, aka content of the database. Not to mention of course the
> important topic on the design of database schema that is certainly an IPR
> issue that cannot be covered from CC licenses. On top of this one can add
> the "mechanics" of the database (i.e. procedures, functions, etc....) that
> are covered from software licenses.
> My point is that it will help a lot of people if you add in your site what
> constitutes a software database, what are the current licenses available
> what parts of the database can cover sufficiently. You certainly touched a
> hot potato with OdBL but it has to become more clear how it is
> differentiated from the other licenses, what parts of a software database
> covers and in what extent. 
> I am happy that I combined OdBL with GNU GPL in MEDILIG project
> (http://medilig.org) and I certainly found a reason to act in this way as
> felt that I am not sufficiently covered from only GPL, CC or OdBL. It is
> also a good case scenario if people that have used your license tell their
> story on what grounds they decided to add this on their project.
> In my case one has to pay attention on what kind of data I have released
> with it. I will come up again on this topic as I owe a reply to Jonathan
> Gray.
> In the meantime maybe Jordan can shed some more light along these lines. I
> am not sure whether I have seen something on your site that explains these
> in a simple way.
> Kind regards to all
> Athanassios I. Hatzis, PhD
> http://healis.eu
> http://athanassios.gr
> -----Original Message-----
> From: odc-discuss-bounces at lists.okfn.org
> [mailto:odc-discuss-bounces at lists.okfn.org] On Behalf Of Jordan S Hatcher
> Sent: Friday, July 16, 2010 11:38 AM
> To: Jo Walsh
> Cc: odc-discuss at lists.okfn.org
> Subject: Re: [odc-discuss] version 1.1 of OdBL?
> On 15 Jul 2010, at 12:27, Jo Walsh wrote:
>> dear all,
>> I'm looking to use the OdBL to license data from a research project.
>> We have visiting lawyers at EDINA and i'm planning to ask them, as well
> JISC Legal, for an opinion on OdBL for licensing research data.
> For research data, I suggest that inline with the recommendations in the
> Panton Principles and the Science Commons Open Access Data Protocol (for
> public domain for science data) that any legal review not concentrate on
> ODbL but instead on the range of licensing options available. This would
> include paying special attention to our Public Domain Dedication and
> (PDDL) and CC0 by Creative Commons
> <http://pantonprinciples.org/>
> <http://sciencecommons.org/projects/publishing/open-access-data-protocol/>
> Apart from my personal opinions on the subject, Panton and the Science
> Commons work do reflect a desire by many in the sciences to go for a
> domain approach.
>> It occurs to me that there may be a version 1.1 in the works.
>> Is this the case, will changes be significant, is there an overview?
>> Is now a bad time to expend lawyer brain energy on version 1.0?
> Like any open license, we're trying to keep track of any suggested changes
> for a 1.1 version, but no, there is no 1.1 in the works that would surpass
> the current license anytime soon.
> ~Jordan
> s - a quick one page trying to explain to researchers why they may like a
> ShareAlike license.
>> http://chalice.blogs.edina.ac.uk/ - the specific project, but i hope to
> get advice i can push around a lot of digital humanities projects.
>> cheers,
>> jo
>> -- 
>> Jo Walsh
>> Unlock places - http://unlock.edina.ac.uk/
>> phone: +44 (0)131 650 2973
>> skype: metazool
>> The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
>> Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
>> _______________________________________________
>> odc-discuss mailing list
>> odc-discuss at lists.okfn.org
>> http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/odc-discuss
> ____
> Mr. Jordan S Hatcher, JD, LLM
> More at: <http://www.jordanhatcher.com>
> Co-founder:  <http://www.opendatacommons.org>
> Open Knowledge: <http://www.okfn.org/>
> _______________________________________________
> odc-discuss mailing list
> odc-discuss at lists.okfn.org
> http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/odc-discuss
> _______________________________________________
> odc-discuss mailing list
> odc-discuss at lists.okfn.org
> http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/odc-discuss

Mr. Jordan S Hatcher, JD, LLM

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

More information about the odc-discuss mailing list