[OSM-talk] Placenames in Iceland - upcoming bill

Svavar Kjarrval svavar at kjarrval.is
Sat Jan 12 01:21:04 GMT 2013


I got a tip that the Ministry of Education in Iceland is drafting a bill
regarding placenames. In the draft's comment section they specifically
mentioned OpenStreetMap as an example of a distributor of geodata (along
with Samsýn and Google Maps). They plan to propose the bill soon. The
public review period expired at the day's end of January 10th but I
might be able to squeeze in some comments in if I send them before
Monday next.

One of the reasons the bill will be proposed is because they are afraid
that cultural heritage is lost since popular geodata distributors don't
display (rare) placenames due to lack of data. This is also because many
users build their local knowledge upon data brought to them via geodata
distributors. They clearly want the placenames to be available
everywhere so people will be better equipped to know the name of every
hill and valley, if a name exists. I think this should give an idea of
the data density: http://atlas.lmi.is/ornefnasja/ (more placenames
appear as you zoom in closer)

In the current draft, they suggest that place names and their location
should be open data. Here's a rough translation of the corresponding

    Article 9
    /Placename database//./
    National Land Survey of Iceland, in cooperation with The Árni
    Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, shall file placenames
    into a centralised database and maintain it.
    The contents of the database shall be accessible as open data and
    free of charge.
    Into the placename database shall, among other things, file:
        a. Placenames in a proper notation,
        b. Alignment of the placename,
        c. The namebearer type.
    The Minister shall with regulation provide further definitions for
    the contents, filing and arrangements of the database according to
    this Article.

Open data is not defined in Icelandic law so the reference is not clear
and the meaning could be misinterpreted. I think it'll the first time
Icelandic law would have that reference. I was wondering, should I
comment on the draft and suggest that the database should be in the
public domain? Database rights are defined in Icelandic copyright law
and the public domain exception doesn't cover databases so I think such
a change would avoid any unneccessary problems.

What do you think?

With regards,
Svavar Kjarrval
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