[okfn-discuss] Open Data Commons Database licence (draft) now out

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Thu Sep 27 12:15:50 UTC 2007

Jordan Hatcher's lists wrote:
> Thanks for adding it to the guide.
> Is this a 'formal ruling' that it is an open licence? If not, could I  
> try to spark a discussion on whether it meets the OKFN's definition?

Thanks for the bug Jordan :) I'd meant to respond back on Monday but as 
I'd only had the chance to skim the license I thought it best to hold 
off until I'd read it thoroughly.

First off I think you and Charlotte have done great work. This is the 
first license I know of that properly focuses on DBs and you've really 
done an excellent job of addressing all of the major potential issues.

Regarding the open definition, in my opinion, the license definitely is 
compliant. To be specific:

   * (2) On freedom to redistribute: + (s3.0)
   * (3) On freedom to reuse: + (s3.0)
     * All of the restrictions in s4.0 are of a permissible kind 
(attribution, share-alike etc)
   * (4) On absence of technological restriction: + s4.6.
   * (5+6) Integrity and attribution you have s5.0.
   * (8) Discrimination by fields of endeavour: + (3rd para in s3.1)
   * (9) Distribution of License: + (s4.2 and s4.3)
   * (10) License Must Not Be Specific to a Package: + (no such restriction)
   * (11) License Must Not Restrict the Distribution of Other Works: + 

  This isn't a 'formal ruling' since we just go on (rough) consensus 
here but if no-one else speaks up with an objection I think you could 
take it as such :)

Beyond the basic 'openness' issue I do have a few comments/questions:

1. Share-alike provision and compatible licenses.

In s4.4 on Share-alike you have option (iii) A compatible license 
deleted. In your annotation you explain that this could be re-added and 
also why you have removed it. I am not sure I completely understand this 
bit. Obviously this license waives all moral rights (including 
attribution rights) in s5.1.

But does this mean an attribution requirement be incompatible with this 
license -- if so could one modify the license to ensure it was not? 
Attribution is likely to be a big requirement for many groups (such as 
academics) and it would be unfortunate if it were precluded.

I also wonder whether CC's waiver will actually be incompatible. If 
their approach is 'BSD-like' one would hope one could still join that 
with a share-alike license like this which does not waive rights.

2. Mashups

There is a specific section 4.5b which excludes mashups from the SA 

b. Using this Database or a Derivative Database to produce a Substantial 
part of the Data (via a search or other query) that is then combined 
with information from more than one source into an integrated experience 
does not create a Derivative Database (out of the integrated experience) 
for purposes of Section 4.4; and

I do not think this makes this non OKD compliant but I do worry that it 
could be used to an 'end-run' round the intent of the SA provision. In 
particular it might allow people to in effect create a derivative 
database but argue that it was only producing by combining their data 
with the original database to make an 'integrated experience'.

3. Making available derivative works

Similar to the previous point I also think one might want to make 
explicit that one cannot restrict access to the data by providing some 
form of limited interface (this might best go in s4.6). For example 
someone might make a derivative DB but put it behind a search form that 
only allowed people a limited query rate. Thus I think it might be 
worthwhile to have something related to the 'Access' provision (no 1) of 
the OKD which states:

"The work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable 
reproduction cost, preferably downloading via the Internet without 
charge. The work must also be available in a convenient and modifiable 

(obviously this can't apply to the work being licensed but it can be 
used as part of the share-alike provision to affect the behaviour of 
those making derivative works).


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