[Talk-us] Baltimore County GIS Data is now public domain

Paul Norman penorman at mac.com
Tue Oct 1 02:29:21 UTC 2013

> From: Richard Weait [mailto:richard at weait.com]
> Sent: Monday, September 30, 2013 2:11 PM
> Subject: Re: [Talk-us] Baltimore County GIS Data is now public domain
> Your use of "public domain" in the subject is potentially confusing,
> since there is no reliable method for you to declare that the data is
> in the public domain.

Although this is true for an individual, it is more complicated for a 
government. There are a few ways that a dataset might be "public domain."

- The government could view the material as data which does not qualify
  for copyright protection in the US. This puts the dataset in the same
  state as one created by the federal government - there is nothing 
  protected by copyright.

- The government could be barred by a statute or regulation from 
  restricting the dataset's use under copyright. The situation here is 
  more complex because they may be copyright holders, but are prevented
  from acting like they were.

I generally accept that when a government makes a statement about releasing
data in a particular way that they have the legal ability to do so. Their
lawyers presumably know the law applicable to them and have a basis on
which to make their statements.

> It would be wonderful if you would choose and attach the following
> license(s) to the data, and your web site on which they are published.
>  ODC PDDL (preferred, because it is specific to data), CC-Zero.

In the US there are no database rights so CC0 does an adequate job of 
releasing the rights that do exist. It's when you start to not 
unconditionally release rights that the CC licenses and ODC licenses
differ in the US.

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