[odc-discuss] Licensing of produced works from an ODbL database

Robert Whittaker (ODC lists) robert.whittaker+odc at gmail.com
Sun Nov 4 20:36:52 UTC 2012

On 2 November 2012 19:05, Anthony <osm at inbox.org> wrote:
> The rules apply if you "publicly use" a produced work.  It need not be a
> produced work which you created.
> Understanding this distinction should answer your other questions.

That's an interesting way of looking at things, and one that hadn't
occurred to me before, so thanks for that. However, I'm struggling to
get my head round some of the consequences of this...

Presumably you can't be expected to be bound by a license that you
never agreed to (albeit perhaps implicitly) so if you are given a
produced work from an ODbL database and if the author somehow gives
you the rights to (re-)use it publicly, then the author would need to
specify that such uses can only be done under the terms of the ODbL. I
think this raises two issues:

1) Surely there should be something in the ODbL to make it clear that
the author of the original produced work has to do this, and I'm not
sure that's the case at present. The ODbL license seems to be saying
"you can do what you like, as long as the follow all the
requirements". As far as I can see, the author could follow all the
requirements and not tell the receiver of any produced work that they
can only re-use it publicly under the terms of the ODbL. The ODbL is
explicit about the license required for any derivative databases, so
it would seem natural that it should be similarly explicit if there
were any restrictions required on the licenses that Produced Works
could be offered under.

2) Under this interpretation, wouldn't it be impossible to give away a
produced work under (say) CC-By? While CC-By would ensure that the
attribution to the ODbL database is maintained if a receiver (re-)uses
the produced work publicly, it wouldn't ensure that the receiver is
obliged to follow the other ODbL requirements involving providing the
final database and/or algorithm to people who access the produced
work. I thought one of the aims of the ODbL was to allow Produced
Works to be released under such licenses.

(For (2) is there maybe some argument about CC-By licensing
copyrights, while the ODbL provides additional
obligations/restrictions based on database rights? Even so, it's
somewhat misleading to give someone something under CC-By if there are
additional obligations from some other license they have to comply
with too.)

Many thanks,


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