[OSM-legal-talk] 'Contents'

Francis Davey fjmd1a at gmail.com
Wed Apr 27 09:54:34 BST 2011

On 27 April 2011 09:26, Ed Avis <eda at waniasset.com> wrote:
> The plan to change the licence is to use ODbL for the 'database' and DbCL for the
> 'database contents'.  Are these 'contents' the same as the 'Your Contents'
> referred to by the CTs - or is that a different kind of contents?

They are defined in the CTs as "data and/or any other content"
(contributed by the contributor).

As an aside, what "any other content" might be is not clear since,
surely, anything capable of being uploaded to the site is in some
definitions of the word "data". However that's a standard lawyerly
drafting style to try to exclude any possibilities that haven't been
thought of (its a style that is discouraged by clear English
campaigners but its pretty common).

Put more simply "Your Contents" is anything you upload.

"contents" in the ODbL has a very different sense. The database right
refers to a "database" in the sense of directive 96/9/EC where
"database" is defined as "a collection of independent works, data or
other materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way and
individually accessible by electronic or other means."

So from the point of view of EU database law a database consists of
something else (works, data etc) which are arranged into the database.

The ODbL shadows this definition by saying: “Contents” – The contents
of this Database, which includes the information, independent works,
or other material collected into the Database. A court is likely to
assume this is intended to parallel the definition given in 96/9/EC,
so that contents refer to the things arranged to form the database.
Those things may be subject to other forms of intellectual property
right, including database rights of their own which might even be
licensed under the ODbL (for example a database of works, some of
which are tables).

Hopefully this makes it clear that something isn't either "contents"
or "database" but could be both or neither.

So, contributors may upload data which does not, itself, constitute a
copyrightable work and which is not itself a database and therefore
the contributors have no intellectual property rights in the data.

Alternatively, contributors may upload data which, taken together,
does constitute either a copyrightable work and/or a database.

> Don't the CTs also need to assign rights over 'Your Database' as well as 'Your
> Contents', since it is likely that even one single contributor would produce
> effectively a database of map data, just covering a smaller area of the globe?

No. The licence grant in clause 2 licences both copyright and database
rights to OSMF. A contributor therefore permits any act which might
infringe any database right they might have in the data they upload.

The wording of the grant makes it clear that the use of the word
"contents" is not meant to equate to that in the ODbL.

> Or is an individual changeset considered to be pure 'contents' and only when it
> is combined with other changesets becomes part of a 'database'?

As I hope I've clarified, I don't think it makes sense to ask whether
something is "considered to be pure 'contents'". The two questions
are: (i) what is covered by the contributor terms (everything
uploaded) and (ii) what does the ODbL licence (the arrangement of
OSMF's database)?

Francis Davey

More information about the legal-talk mailing list