[OSM-legal-talk] Q&A with a lawyer

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Wed May 13 01:15:48 BST 2009


Ulf Möller wrote:
> I think the provisions of the GPL and ODbL are quite similar:

Oops. If ODbL and GPL are as parallel to the GPL as you suggest, then:

> GPL v3:
> "Sublicensing is not allowed" - "Each time you convey a covered work, 
> the recipient automatically receives a license from the original 
> licensors, to run, modify and propagate that work, subject to this License."

The above is for distributing the original, unmodified work, right?

> "You may convey a work based on the Program, or the modifications to 
> produce it from the Program, in the form of source code under the terms 
> of section 4, provided that you also meet all of these conditions: ... 
> You must license the entire work, as a whole, under this License to 
> anyone who comes into possession of a copy."

And this is for distributing a derived work. So the "sublicensing is not 
allowed", in the GPL, *only* applies to distributing the original work, 
and as soon as you make a derived work, "you must license..." the work.

If it is the same with ODbL, and I must say the similar wording makes 
this likely, then

> ODbL 1.0 RC1:
> "You may not sublicense the Database. Each time You communicate the 
> Database ... to anyone else in any way, the Licensor offers to the 
> recipient a licence to the Database on the same terms and conditions as 
> this Licence."

The "you must not sublicense" is really only for distribution of the 
unmodified product, as in the GPL; and

> "Any Derivative Database that You Publicly Use must be only under the 
> terms of: i. This Licence; ii. A later version of this Licence similar 
> in spirit to this Licence; or iii. A compatible licence.
> If You license the Derivative Database under one of the licences 
> mentioned in (iii), You must comply with the terms of that licence."

This would then say that if it comes to distributing a derived work, you 
are indeed the licensor. The ODbL even contains the wording "If you 
license the Derivative Database", and this means that you are the licensor.

Which means that everything I said before in this thread is rubbish, and 
Peter Miller's concerns are legit: If you are the licensor, then, under 

"Licensors may authorise a proxy to determine compatible licences under 
Section 4.4 a iii. If they do so, the authorised proxy's public 
statement of acceptance of a compatible licence grants You permission to 
use the compatible licence."

... you get to choose what the compatible licenses are, don't you? So I 
can take the planet file, add a node thereby creating a derivative 
database, publish it with me as the licensor, and under 4.4 d declare 
that I am myself the proxy who determines license compatibility, and one 
second later proclaim that the BSD style license is compatible with 
ODbL. Yay! Where can I sign up ;-)


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

More information about the legal-talk mailing list