[odc-discuss] Interview with Open Street Map's Steve Coast about relicensing and ODbL

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Wed Jun 22 09:46:14 UTC 2011

Mike Linksvayer wrote:
> The short version of a very long story is that ODbL and OSM's
> process of migrating to it was prompted by CC BY-SA not
> adequately addressing what are known as sui generis database
> rights, a copyright-like restriction on databases that exists
> primarily in the EU, and something that should be licensed
> along with copyright so that users have the freedoms intended
> to be granted by the license and utilization of those freedoms
> protected by copyleft.

Indeed. (Though I'm a little more sceptical that ODbL+CC can come together
given that ODbL, strongly supported by OSM, includes a contract element
and AIUI CC is firmly against this.)

But it's worth reiterating that applicability to factual databases is far
from the only advantage that moving to ODbL gives OSM.

One other big advantage is the Produced Work. Because the CC licences are
drafted with creative works in mind, the Derivative/Collective distinction
in CC licences makes sense for creative works. It makes less sense for
data. Creative uses of OSM data are caught within the copyleft "net" under
CC-BY-SA but not under ODbL.

This is becoming more acute over time: we now have clientside map
renderings which are every bit as good as serverside ones. With a
serverside rendering (generated with Mapnik, say), the artistic
cartography is part of the Derivative Work distributed via the server, and
is therefore subject to the Derivative provisions. With a clientside
rendering (generated with Kothic-JS), the artistic cartography is
distributed separately; the final map is only "created" on the client and
never distributed further, so there is no obligation to make the
Derivative available under CC-BY-SA. All this despite the fact that the
two look identical.

ODbL's Produced Work is a well thought out answer to this and I would
certainly not support OSM moving to any licence that did not retain such a


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