[odc-discuss] Questions about ODC licenses and web site

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Wed Jul 6 08:28:35 UTC 2011

On 4 July 2011 16:52, Peter B. Hirtle <pbh6 at cornell.edu> wrote:
> Sirs:
> I am very much encouraging our data projects at Cornell to use ODC licenses,
> but people have been deeply confused by your web pages, particularly the web
> page relating to the ODC-BY license.  I hope that you can help with these
> questions.

That's great to hear and I'm sorry there is some confusion but we hope
that feedback like this can help us clarify things!

> 1.       On http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/, you indicate that
> ODC-BY is “Attribution for data/databases.”  In the text of the license
> itself, however, you specify that ODC-BY does not apply to data, but only to
> databases: “…this license only governs the rights over the Database, and not
> the contents of the Database individually.”  Is ODC-BY only for databases?
> If so, why are you calling it “data/databases”?

Most people when they talk about "data" basically mean what is, in the
technical legal sense, a "database" hence the use of "data/database"
in more informal sections of site.

So the point is that "small amounts" of data are not covered but when
data is large then it will be a "database" and hence covered. For more
on distinction of contents and database see this FAQ for more:


> 2.       If it is only for databases, as the legal code seems to suggest,
> what license should be used to license content with only an attribution
> requirement?

What is your "content"?

> 3.       On http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/by/, under “How to
> apply,” you give language that refers only to databases, and not data
> content  (see question 1 above).  This is in contrast to the ODbL license
> http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/), which has one sentence that
> refers to the database, and a second sentence that refers to the database
> content.  Why no second sentence for content in the ODC-BY license –
> especially since Footnote 2 on the ODC-BY page refers to replacing the
> (non-existent) second sentence?

The answer is that it originally referred to the ODC Contents license
but that is specific to the ODbL so the reference was removed. Right
now we'll delete footnote 2 but we should think about how we could
adapt the contents license to be suitable for all ODC licenses.

> 4.       The ODC-ODbL license refers to the Database Contents License:
> http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/dbcl/1.0/, for data.  This is not listed
> as a license under your list of licenses.  Are there other database commons
> licenses (such as an attribution license for database contents)?

For database contents:

Either: no license is appropriate since there are no rights (e.g.
factual data: there are rights in individual contents of a factual

Or: if the material does have rights probably standard copyright
material (text, images etc) in which case you can use a standard
license for that type of material e.g. one of the open Creative
Commons licenses: <http://www.opendefinition.org/licenses/#Content>


More information about the odc-discuss mailing list