[OSM-legal-talk] Database and its contents

Francis Davey fjmd1a at gmail.com
Tue Nov 23 20:27:28 GMT 2010


On 23 November 2010 19:50, 80n <80n80n at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> To be precise a database right is earned when there is a "substantial
> investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting" the contents of the

Yes. I was deliberately avoiding side-tracking the discussion onto the
nature of the investment - I'm keen to avoid sounding like I am
lecturing.

> database.  Has the OSMF done enough to earn that right?  Most obtaining has

That's a good question and a tricky one. How much is "substantial" is
not well settled in the case law - but many European jurisdictions
seem to be quite generous at finding the existence of a right with
relatively modest levels of investment.

"substantial" could mean "not merely trivial" or "a large amount".

But your question does not exhaust the enquiry - has OSMF a database
right (or could it obtain one)?

Its entirely possible for a large number of people to work together on
a project so that *jointly* they own a database right in a jointly
created database. I don't know much of OSM's history, but I'm guessing
that it started out like that, without any clear assignment of rights
between the contributors (looking at a history of the CT's suggests
this), so that what you may have is a joint work.

If the contributors licence their database rights to OSMF then OSMF
will have sufficient rights to sublicense under ODbL (assuming lots of
other things are true as well - I'm just looking at the ownership
question).

I think it would be easy enough to defend OSM being a database and
there being a database right in its data. Who "owns" it may be less
important, unless you try to sue for infringement of course, but as I
understand existing policy, that is not OSMF's intention.

> been done by contributors who are not members of OSMF and have no connection
> with OSMF. As far as I know OSMF has no verification function and certainly

They have _some_ connection in that they contributed to OSM with which
OSMF is connected.

> doesn't make a substantial investment in verification.  As for presenting
> they host a server running Mapnik and provide a planet dump and some APIs.
> Their only investment is the cost of the hardware[1].

Quite. There's obviously a question of what "substantial" means - see above.

>
> In much of the database rights literature there is often a reference to the
> $ value spent to create the database in question.  Presumably this is
> relevant to whether the right has been earned based on a substantial
> investment.  How does OSMF measure up on this, having spent just a few
> thousand dollars on hardware?
>

Hard to say, although investment does not have to be of money, but of
resources, so lots of people working hard in their spare time as
volunteers counts.

-- 
Francis Davey



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