[OSM-legal-talk] Database rights and who has them

Brian Quinion openstreetmap at brian.quinion.co.uk
Wed Apr 1 12:01:25 BST 2009


I came across the following while looking for something else.  It
regards the interpretation of database rights in a case between
William Hill and Fixtures Marketing.  Article here:


My impression is that it might have implications for whether database
rights apply to OSM data and who owns that protection since it

1) Investment in actually creating data which forms part of a database
will not automatically result in a database right. Organisations
creating data must make separate investment in the organisation and
arrangement of the database itself in order to gain protection.

Are individuals compiling data or creating it?  Traces / drawing roads
are probably creating data.  Collecting road names might be compiling
data, but I'm far from certain.

2) Database rights only arise where the maker of the database has
invested substantially in obtaining or verifying data from independent

Has OSM Foundation (the other alternative for the database rights
owner?) invested enough effort in obtaining and verifying the data
from database rights to apply?  Contributors are unpaid volunteers,
independent from OSMF so maybe their time doesn't count in which case
the only applicable effort is the server hosting.  Is that enough?
There is very little (if any) verification going on from OSMF itself.

I'm sure this has been investigated and considered by the relevant
lawyers but it seemed worth mentioning.  The final suggestion in the
article that:

'Remember that a database can attract copyright as well as database
rights. The reduction in the scope of protection under database rights
may mean that the makers of databases seek to rely more on copyright
in order to protect their investment.'

Has a certain comedy element to it given the current license change!


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