[odc-discuss] ODbL and Creative Commons

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Mon Feb 6 15:50:09 UTC 2012

On 06/02/2012 13:58, Ed Avis wrote:
> As you know Creative Commons are planning to produce version 4 of
> CC-BY-SA this year.  Having two separate silos for share-alike data
> is not good, so we should find ways for ODbL and CC-BY-SA to
> interoperate, or better still merge into a single licence.

A lot of this comes back to the "scope of copyleft" in CC 4.0 which has 
been the major topic of conversation on the cc-community list recently.

One message particularly worth quoting is this:
"Copyleft works best when there's one primary form of copyleft in that 

Databases, particularly factual ones, and creative works are distinct 
spaces. To my mind, adapting CC's share-alike to be suitable for 
databases is about as sensible as making it usable for code. It's 
possible - everything is possible - but I struggle to see a reason.

More clarity can be obtained by having one licence per space, and aiming 
to get to the position where interoperability is well understood. 
Software and creative works of differing licence philosophies 
(proprietary/copyleft/permissive) work well enough together, even if 
there are occasionally some questions around the edges. ODbL is an 
opportunity to bring similar clarity to databases, and I hope that CC 
might see fit to unofficially relinquish the role of their share-alike 
licences for databases in the same way that FSF relinquished GFDL for 
certain creative works.

Note too that CC have committed that, for BY-SA, "Any clarification of 
whether a use constitutes an adaptation for the purposes of 
Attribution-ShareAlike licenses may only broaden the scope of uses 
considered adaptations rather than collections." 

That makes sense within the "space" which CC there define as "the Free 
or Libre Culture movement". However, it is likely to rule out merging 
CC-BY-SA and ODbL, because of the Produced Work option. (FWIW I don't 
particularly see Produced Works as an additional freedom or a "weak 
copyleft", more a formalisation of the "distinct spaces" concept.)

(I'm behind on my correspondence in this area right now but I hope that 
makes some sense!)

> One difference of approach between ODC and CC is in the addition of
> contract-law terms to the licence (making it not a true licence but a
> contract).  I know that the contract-law part of ODbL is not
> universally popular on this mailing list either.  I don't know the
> full history but I think it might have been added specifically because
> of Openstreetmap's requirements?

No. It was in the first draft of the ODC Database Licence (as it was 
then called) in September 2007 
(http://www.opencontentlawyer.com/2007/09/). OSM was not aware of the 
licence before then 


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