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

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Mon Jul 18 12:20:48 UTC 2011

On 10 July 2011 17:37, Peter B. Hirtle <pbh6 at cornell.edu> wrote:
> Rufus and Richard:
> Thanks for bearing with me.  We could quibble about what constitutes "substantial use" of a database - I don't think that extracting a few variables that are only tangentially related to the main point of the database would qualify - but the point may not be worth belaboring.  The conclusion that I have taken from your messages is that an ODC-BY license does not apply to the contents of a database except for when it does.  I can live with that.

OK. I think your are right that just 'extracting a few variables that
are only tangentially related to the main database" would quality and
trigger the license but I think that for that case you have to wonder
what would work. I'd also emphasize that for the situation you are
describing the license is really a form of social contract rather than
formal legal document (in the sense that violators are very unlikely
to be sued -- rather enforcement will come from the general community
(that said the fact something is a legal document may give it extra
kudos compared to informal, non-legal, "community norms").

> I do hope that some of the confusing things I found on the opendatacommons web site can be fixed.

I believe these had been fixed. If not please let me know (either on
or off list).


> Peter
> -----Original Message-----
> From: okfn.rufus.pollock at gmail.com [mailto:okfn.rufus.pollock at gmail.com] On Behalf Of Rufus Pollock
> Sent: Friday, July 08, 2011 12:46 PM
> To: Peter B. Hirtle
> Cc: Richard Weait; odc-discuss at lists.okfn.org
> Subject: Re: [odc-discuss] Questions about ODC licenses and web site
> 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 "Contents"
>> 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 ...)
> Rufus

Co-Founder, Open Knowledge Foundation
Promoting Open Knowledge in a Digital Age
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