[OSM-legal-talk] Content Licence for OSM Data

Jonathan Harley jon at spiffymap.net
Wed Mar 13 09:46:38 UTC 2013

On 12/03/13 18:45, Robert Whittaker (OSM lists) wrote:
> My understanding of the ODbL is that it covers an overall database,
> but not individual contents within it. So in order to use an ODbL
> database you also need a license (or other permission) to use the
> contents. Conversely, when offering a database to others under the
> ODbL, if you actually want them to be able to use it, you also need to
> provide a suitable licence for the contents. See the ODC FAQ at
> http://opendatacommons.org/faq/licenses/#db-versus-contents
> In particular, the licensing instructions at
> http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/ suggest you need to include
> both the ODbL for the database, and a licence for the contents. The
> suggested form is:
> "This {DATA(BASE)-NAME} is made available under the Open Database
> License: http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/1.0/. Any rights in
> individual contents of the database are licensed under the Database
> Contents License: http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/dbcl/1.0/ "
> However, on the OSM license page at
> http://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright only the Open Database Licence
> is mentioned. There is no mention of any licence for the contents.
> Should we be specifying a content license for the OSM data on that
> page? If so, should this be the Database Contents License (DbCL)?
> (The DbCL is mentioned in the contributor terms, and there is a
> reference at http://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/License/About_The_License_Change#The_documents
> , but neither explicitly says that the OSM contents are indeed
> licensed under this licence. I also guess you could take the view that
> there are no rights in the OSM contents since each is individually an
> un-copyrightable fact. But to be on the safe side, to create an level
> playing field in all jurisdictions, and to re-assure potential users,
> I'd have thought it would be better to provide an explicit license for
> the contents anyway.)
> Any thoughts?
> Robert.

I agree that this needs addressing. From a data user's perspective, it 
certainly isn't clear what, if any, license the contents are available 
under right now.

I raised this point on this very mailing list in October (in a much less 
thorough way). Michael Collinson replied and committed himself to seeing 
if it could be clarified. (He did say it was "low priority".)


Dr Jonathan Harley   :    Managing Director    :   SpiffyMap Ltd

md at spiffymap.com      Phone: 0845 313 8457     www.spiffymap.com
The Venture Centre, Sir William Lyons Road, Coventry CV4 7EZ, UK

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