[Talk-ca] Nanaimo OGL license

Paul Norman penorman at mac.com
Fri Dec 20 06:38:09 UTC 2013

Previously[1] I looked at the OGL - Canada 2.0. The federal government 
opinion is that the license is compatible with the ODbL and CC BY. The 
OKFN regards the OGL - Canada 2.0 as meeting the Open Definition. 

The OGL - British Columbia and OGL - Nanaimo are different licenses. 
Aside from formatting, branding and jurisdictional differences, the two 
significant changes are the addition of an exemption, and defining 
"Information" to include "Records"[2]. The exception is to not license 
"Information or Records not accessible under the Freedom of Information 
and Protection of Privacy Act (B.C.) [(FIPPA)]" 

Although it has not come up for a vote, the view on the Open Definition 
mailing lists[3] is that this exemption makes the license non-open 
because it is impossible or impractical for a user to know if the 
license is applied to a particular work, or if it falls under one of the 
exemptions. The vagueness comes from two sources: difficulty in 
interpreting what is meant in the license, and difficulty evaluating if 
a particular work falls under a FIPPA exemption. I have more information 
about the possible interpretations of this phrase and different types of 
FIPPA exemptions, but see no need to go into that at this time. 

If it were not for this exemption, I do not see anything that would 
cause its ODbL compatibility to differ from the OGL - Canada 2.0. 

Fortunately, there is a way around the vagueness of the exemption: to 
find out the FOI status explicitly. I asked the City of Nanaimo about 
the orthophotos, addressing and roads data and their FOI officer 
informed me that I may treat those datasets as "released 'in accordance 
with the Provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy 

This does NOT apply to all Nanaimo datasets, nor to other datasets 
released by other cities under similar licenses. I would *expect* all 
datasets on data catalogue sites in BC to be released in accordance with 
FIPPA, but I believe it is necessary to verify this. 

I have no import-related plans at this time for the addressing or roads 
data, but I've had multiple requests to make the orthophotos available 
as a background for editing, as they are significantly better than Bing. 
I may do an overlay with the roads data, similar to the TIGER 2013 
overlay, or what I did for Kelowna[4]. Kelowna's data is under the PDDL, 
which made it legally much easier to work with.

The effort involved in verifying that a license used only by one city is 
usable shows how custom licenses significantly increase the work for 
data consumers (e.g. OpenStreetMap), particularly if multiple data 
sources are involved. It would be significantly easier if the data was 
released following best practices and used an established license such 
as, in order of preference: CC0, PDDL, CC BY 4.0, or ODC-BY.

[2]: https://gist.github.com/pnorman/7716944
[3]: https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/od-discuss/2013-October/000633.html
[4]: http://tile.paulnorman.ca/demo/kelowna.html

More information about the Talk-ca mailing list