[OSM-legal-talk] ZIP codes from OSM in non-compatible licensed dataset

Kathleen Lu kathleen.lu at mapbox.com
Thu Oct 10 21:24:31 UTC 2019

> Extracting than 100 elements (non repeatable) from the databse accounts

> > for substantial.

The licence doesn't say this at all.
The ODbL defines substantial as:
“Substantial” – Means substantial in terms of quantity or quality or a
combination of both. The repeated and systematic Extraction or
Re-utilisation of insubstantial parts of the Contents may amount to the
Extraction or Re-utilisation of a Substantial part of the Contents.
The interpretation that OSMF has put forward is that it is NOT substantial
if an extraction has:
 -   Less than 100 Features.
 - More that 100 Features only if the extraction is non-systematic and
clearly based on your own qualitative criteria for example an extract of
all the the locations of restaurants you have visited for a personal map to
share with friends or use the locations of a selection of historic
buildings as an adjunct in a book you are writing, we would regard that as
non Substantial. The systematic extraction of all eating places within an
area or at all castles within an area would be considered to be systematic.
 - The features relating to an area of up to 1,000 inhabitants which can be
a small densely populated area such as a European village or can be a large
sparsely-populated area for example a section of the Australian bush with
few Features.

This does NOT mean than if your extraction ticks up to 101 features, it's
definitively substantial (this wouldn't make any sense under copyright law
either). Rather it means that it's out of the scope of what the OSMF has
given its view on.

Cost is a relevant factor in database protection law, which is one of the
rights covered by the licence. First, a database is not protected unless
there has been "substantial investment" in its making. Second, while users
are prohibited from extracting substantial parts of the database without
permission (aka a licence), users are affirmatively allowed by the law to
extract insubstantial parts (and the database owner actually cannot prevent
it). The precise amount that is considered "substantial" is not defined.
Rather "A lawful user of a database which is made available to the public
in whatever manner may not perform acts which conflict with normal
exploitation of the database or unreasonably prejudice the legitimate
interests of the maker of the database." Considerations of cost would be a
factor for a court to consider in determining this.

As for copyright law, I disagree with Tom's statement that "Copyright law
does come into effect much earlier than database protection." Copyright law
typically protects 1) the contents of a database *if* they are individually
copyrightable, a difficult proposition with geodata, and 2) the arrangement
and selection of a database, particularly creative choices. It would appear
entirely possible, especially when we're dealing with a database of facts,
for an extraction to be substantial but copy nothing copyrightable.
Imagine, for example, the *random* extraction of 25% of the contents of a

All that said, I am still of the opinion that it is not necessary to find
the exact line here, because the original use Lars-Daniel proposed was one
of a collective database so long as the two sets of ZIP properties were
kept in separate columns, which he appeared quite comfortable with.
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