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

Peter Miller peter.miller at itoworld.com
Thu Apr 2 22:40:16 BST 2009

On 1 Apr 2009, at 14:53, Frederik Ramm wrote:
>> '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.'
> Copyright, in connection with databases, never means copyright on the
> contents, just a copyright on the layout, structure, or modes of  
> access
> to the database. I don't think there is a lot of copyrightable  
> material
> like that in OSM, and if it were, then the copyright owners would
> neither be OSMF nor the mappers, but the individuals who have designed
> the database.

Note that it is our lawyer's opinion that much of OSM data is  
protected by copyright and that the license does not reflect this  
adequately and relies on database rights too much:-

"Linked to point 2 above, the ODbL relies too heavily on database  
right. Copyright is briefly mentioned, but key aspects of copyright  
are also restricted in sections of the ODbL. Database rights may well  
apply to the Database, however, there must be considerable doubt on  
this point (particularly in light of several recent court judgements).  
The wisest (and most usual) course of action would be to ensure that  
the ODbL covers all possible applicable rights, without over reliance  
on any single one. It would appear that the ODbL had originally been  
drafted with a very different type of database in mind to that of the  
OSM Database. Possibly intended for use with databases containing  
references to contained copyright works (such as film clips, art works  
etc.). In this respect the ODC Factual Information Licence v0.9  
referred to in the announcement by the OSMF, is unhelpful. The rights  
granted by this Licence are more limited than those in the ODbL and  
the rights and obligations are not framed in the same manner, thereby  
leading to some conflict between the provisions of both agreements.  
Such conflict would cause obvious difficulty. This is easily remedied  
by the application of a broader definition of rights, the removal of  
specific restrictions relating to copyright in particular and a  
reworking of the definition of “Database” to exclude the appropriate  
class of individual copyrighted works which are held within (but do  
not form part of) the Database. The current definition of Data is too  
wide to achieve this purpose.


I understand from the licensing working group passed these comment to  
the OSMF lawyer for consideration on or around the 19th March.



> Bye
> Frederik
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