[OSGeo-Discuss] Promoting freely available geodata

SteveC steve at asklater.com
Sat Mar 31 01:53:22 PDT 2007

Chris Holmes wrote:
> Do you have a link to the Database Directive stuff on osm-talk?  I checked
> out the list but there's a lot there and wasn't sure which posts to read.
> I just got off the phone with the lead counsel of Science Commons, which
> is the branch of CC made to deal with data.  It was an interesting
> conversation, though unfortunately not much good news for CC licenses for
> Geodata.

Thanks for all this :-)

> The very quick story is that they don't believe copyright can be applied
> to any geospatial data.  Thus creative commons licenses don't work, since

The thing with that argument is that there are lots of people with data 
and money who probably hold the opposite view, eg Ordnance Survey.

This was data only right, not cartographic interpretations eg maps?

> they depend on copyright.  So people providing data have two options -
> public domain or make a contract that completely restricts it.

Yes, I've been thinking about the latter.

> He did give some insight in to how one would make such a regime of
> licenses if one wanted to.  Copyright law doesn't work, since you can't
> copyright data.  Maps can be copyrighted, but if you can reverse engineer
> and extract the data out of them, then that result can not be copyrighted.

IANAL. We have case law here in the UK where big company a (the AA) was 
taken to court by b (the OS) because they copied their maps. The 
clincher was that they also copied fake streets, easter eggs, trap 
streets in the map. This gave away that they copied 'their' map. So does 
it fall down because these are not facts, they're creative secrets? If 
in your next conversation or otherwise you could ask about this it would 
be super helpful.

> So what you would have to do is use contract law.  It would be a contract
> similar to a non-disclosure agreement - you can't disclose the information
> contained in this database unless you follow the set terms.  And you could
> do copyleft type things in the terms, but it's definitely trickier, and
> you somehow have to get people to accept that contract.  Which I suppose
> isn't insurmountable, since Google Maps and their data providers manage to
> get you to accept a contract to not reverse engineer and use tiles off
> line and the like.

It would be super useful if you could also ask 'can we use a CC license 
as a contract? That is, if the data is not copyrightable, can we say to 
people you may use this data AS IF IT WERE copyrightable, with this CC 
license if they sign a contract / tick a box'

have fun,

SteveC steve at asklater.com http://www.asklater.com/steve/

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