[OSM-legal-talk] Copyright and database right for geodata

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Wed Mar 14 14:49:31 GMT 2007

Via a blog posting that Mikel spotted (thanks!), I've just been  
reading a very interesting learned paper on copyright and database  
right as it applies to geodata.


It's written by someone who (unlike us) really should know what she's  
talking about: Dr Charlotte Waelde, AHRC Research Centre for Studies  
in Intellectual Property and Technology Law, School of Law, University  
of Edinburgh. Importantly, it takes full account of the ECJ database  
right cases. I'd encourage anyone with an interest in the legalities  
to read it.

Summarised, her main conclusions are (remember this applies to the EU  
only, and the UK in particular):

- geodata is _not_ subject to copyright
- geodata _is_ subject to EU database right
- database right only restricts you when extracting and reutilising a
   "substantial" part of the geodata; insubstantial use is unrestricted
- it is unclear what "substantial" means qualitatively (what about a
   small area that took a long time to map?)

Overall, then, I think we are starting to draw some facts together:

- OSM data is not copyrightable in the US
- OSM data is subject to database right in the EU
- our current licence is not applicable in either the US or EU
- in the EU, some uses may be permitted anyway, no matter what we say

One big thing remains unresolved, for me at least. Who owns the  
"database right" - OSM(F) or the contributors? After all, OSM is one  
database, not one per user.


More information about the legal-talk mailing list