[odc-discuss] (no subject)

Andrew Rens andrewrens at gmail.com
Fri Mar 27 22:25:55 UTC 2015

Thank you for the explanation Frances.

I understand the intended function of Open Data Commons better now.

However I am not clear that this intent is realised by ODC-By

> "4.2 Notices. If You Publicly Convey this Database, any Derivative
>> Database, or the Database as part of a Collective Database, then You must:
>> a. Do so only under the terms of this License".
>> Just to be clear here - 4.2 is a condition of use imposed on the licensee
> under the licence.
> If A licences a database under ODC-By, and B wishes to publicly convey it,
> then B must adhere to the terms of ODC-By in so doing.
> ...
> If (for example) B creates a derivative database then B can license that
> database under any licence they like.

But 4.2 a. states: "If You Publicly Convey... any Derivative Database then
You must ... Do so only under the terms of this License".

That reads to me as if it applies not to A's database but to B's database.
B's database is the Derivative Database.

Recall the definition of Derivative Database
"Derivative Database” – Means a database based upon the Database, and
includes any translation, adaptation, arrangement, modification, or any
other alteration of the Database or of a Substantial part of the Contents.
This includes, but is not limited to, Extracting or Re-utilising the whole
or a Substantial part of the Contents in a new Database."

That suggests a reading that if B's database  includes a modification of
substantial part of the contents of A's database then B may only publicly
convey it "under the terms of this licence". It seems on the wording that B
is not free to license the derivative database under any licence that she

Now I understand that on the reading that you've suggested the "terms of
this licence" are that a licence to A's database is granted directly to the
user's of B's database.  On that reading the "terms of this license"
applicable to B's database is simply preserving the terms on which those
aspects of A's database which are in B's database are granted.

However there is the other reading - and one the one that seemed obvious to
both Mike and myself, neither of us unfamiliar with licences. That
uncertainty seems problematic, perhaps something that could be addressed in
a new version.

But even on the preservation of direct licence reading B cannot licence the
Derivative Database on any terms - only terms that keep intact the ODC-By
direct licence.

One issue seems to be clearly distinguishing between the contents from A's
database and what B has added. If they are not clearly distinguishable
which I take to be the case in most if not all the real life examples in
which I've worked with datasets, then although B may have a theoretical
right to put her additions under other licences she cannot in practise do
so, because the artifact that she is conveying includes ODC-By content so
she cannot label the artifact that she produces with another licence.
If she were to say 'parts of this are ODC-By and parts are CC By not then
someone who want to use B's database would naturally ask - which parts are

So in practise on the preservation reading one can only use a different
licence for B's additions if one can clearly distinguish between A's data
and B's additions - otherwise one is practically constrained to use ODC-By
for the derivative.

Of course in many cases I'd advise use of PDDL or CC 0 which in my view
have the same effect. But when I am advising others - especially those new
to open data, they want to consider all the options, so implications of
ODC-By amongst others become important.

However if that database contains database IP belonging to A then any user
> of the derived database will need a licence from A to use it as well.
> That's OK because under 4.4 A licenses to them under ODC-By.
>> The legal text of the OBdL 1.0
>> http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/1.0/
>> reads
>> 4.2 Notices. If You Publicly Convey this Database, any Derivative
>> Database, or the Database as part of a Collective Database, then You must:
>>  a. Do so only under the terms of this License or another license
>> permitted under Section 4.4;"
>> The text of both require the re-licensing under the originating licence.
>> ODbL gives some flexibility in 4.4 so is more flexible than By.
>> What am I missing?
> While the By licence did not try to constrain what a licensee did with
> Derived Databases etc, the ODbL does. A licensee is constrained to use one
> of a set of licenses (see 4.4) to license their material. These licences
> genuinely are what you called "downstream".
> So, in our original example, suppose A licenses a database under the ODbL.
> B uses it to create a derived database. B must now license that database
> under a licence compatible with 4.4. Let us say it is a hypothetical SUPER
> licence as yet to be invented in 2020 but compatible with ODbL. B licenses
> their derived database under SUPER.
> But, just as before, that derived database will probably (though not
> certainly) contain IP belonging to A. Any of B's licensees will need a
> licence from A.
> Now if we used the 4.2 from By, then A would be saying to everyone: you
> can use my IP in derived databases but only under ODC-By. That would be odd
> if B had licensed under some other licence (eg the SUPER licence). So what
> 4.2 in ODC-ODbL is saying is that you can comply with another licence that
> is compatible with ODbL - making a situation like this more logical.
> In short: By has no "downstream" licensing, ODbL does. Hence the latter
> requires a flexibility the former does not.
> --
> Francis Davey
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