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

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Fri Jul 8 11:46:26 UTC 2011

On 7 July 2011 21:42, Peter B. Hirtle <pbh6 at cornell.edu> wrote:
> Rufus, the content found in the database is on a particular lake, and consist of biological and chemical parameters (counts of zooplankton, phytoplankton, fish, other organisms, chemical analyses of water, etc.).  It takes effort to collect this content, and the faculty member who generates it wants attribution.
> We know that the there is no copyright in the content: it is all factual.  And we know that the ODC-BY license won't work, since it is explicit that its terms do not apply to the contents of the database, but only to the database itself.  We are assuming that most users will not want to replicate the entire database, but will instead want to extract content from the database.  For example, a 3rd party user might only be interested in the chemical analyses of the water and have no interest in the biological content in the database.  The only ODC content license that I can find (even though it is not listed as a license) is the Database Content License, and it does not allow for Attribution as a condition.

OK, I think there is a bit of confusion here over 'database'. You
don't have to exactly the whole database for the ODC licenses to apply
to you -- after in all with most databases people only use some
portion of that database. The licenses specifically talk of:

"Extraction and Re-utilisation of the whole or a Substantial part of
the Contents;" (ODbL 3.1(a))

Thus the ODC licenses will cover situations where people are only
using some portion of a database. Just using the chemical analyses
would likely be an example of using a "Substantial" part of the

> If we are going to stipulate that a database is different than its content (which I think makes sense), don't you then need to have a full panoply of data content licenses that are based on contract rather than copyright?  Or is it ODC's position that all data must be completely, utterly, and only public domain?  If that is the case, we will have to write our own agreement compatible with the researcher's desires to address how third parties can use the content he has created.

See my comments above, but in essence: using a subset of a database
still counts as using/reusing that database under the ODC licenses (of
course this will depend on how much is taken but this is true with all
of this: in copyright the amount that is reused from another work will
determine whether one is infringing or not ...)


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