[Imports] Fwd: Marin County data license

Serge Wroclawski emacsen at gmail.com
Fri Oct 31 10:54:05 UTC 2014

Sorry, this was supposed to also go to the imports list.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Serge Wroclawski <emacsen at gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 6:53 AM
Subject: Re: [Imports] Marin County data license
To: Nathan Mixter <nmixter at gmail.com>


Unfortunately, as is often quite common, the folks you're talking to
are telling you contradictory things. In such a case, we must take a
conservative approach.

So let me explain why it's contradictory. Public domain is a term of
art. If something is public domain, you can place *no* restrictions on
it. You can't say that there's a requirement for attribution. You can
even take a public domain work and claim copyright ownership over it.

The minute they say "Oh, here's a restriction", then they move from it
being in the public domain to being "essentially in the public
domain". This is how many people talk about Free/Open Source Software
as well, but we know that in actual usage, we must abide by the

As to this data in particular though, I see nothing on that page to
indicate that it is available for our use. There is a disclaimer of
warranty, but that is not reductive of their copyright terms, it's
additive. In other words, in addition to copyright terms, we're also
disclaiming warranty.

As to your email response- I'd say that without more information from
them, their language is contradictory and so the data isn't available
for our use.

Maybe  you can get in contact with the right person and have them make
a formal license for the data (such as CC0) and clear all this up?

- Serge

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