Fw: [OSM-talk] Data Licencing

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Thu May 4 14:06:15 EDT 2006

dear all,

Some licensing discussion developments from OSM, that might be of
interest here. Firstly, a (generic) data-specific license which uses
EU style database copyright "to preserve freedom of access to data". 
http://www.talis.com/tdn/tcl (details below)

Second, there was a decision to move legal/licensing discussion onto a
dedicated list: [[ It's called legal-talk at openstreetmap.org and you 
can subscribe to it in the same way as the other lists. Info here: ]]

I've subbed, and hope it can be a good data silo and reference point for 
licensing WG efforts here, if it takes off...

----- Forwarded message from Ian Davis <iand at internetalchemy.org> -----

Date: Thu, 04 May 2006 09:09:34 +0100
From: Ian Davis <iand at internetalchemy.org>
User-Agent: Thunderbird 3.0a1 (Windows/20060321)
To: talk at openstreetmap.org
Subject: [OSM-talk] Data Licencing

Hi all,

This is my first post to the list so I'd better introduce myself. I've 
been hacking in various open data projects since the late nineties, 
primarily around RSS and the semantic web. My goals have always been to 
help build a web of interconnected, freely available data. Last year I 
joined a company in the UK that shares my ideals called Talis and I've 
been working on some new approaches to data sharing and licencing that I 
think would be relevant to the OSM community.

I aired some thoughts around this in a blog post last year [1]. In that 
post I made the claim that "The data equivalent [of GPL etc], and the 
driving force behind Web 2.0, are the Creative Commons licences. These 
allow owners of data to expressly declare the rights thay grant over the 
content whilst retaining copyright."

I've looked into this a little more and it's become evident that the CC 
licences aren't designed for data, only for creative works, since facts 
can't be copyrighted. However, many countries offer an alternative right 
 which in the UK is called database right[2]. This offers protection 
over the data collection as a whole for a number of years, typically 15.

I have been working on a licence that uses database right to preserve 
freedom of access to data. It's currently called the Talis Community 
Licence and it offers the following rights:

 * the freedom to use the data for any purpose
 * the freedom to modify and mix the data
 * the freedom to redistribute copies

but like the GPL it requires that the copies and derived works are 
offered under the same licence. This is designed to prevent any attempt 
to deny those freedoms to others. The full text is here: 

Talis is a big aggregator of library data and it plans to licence all 
that data under the new licence. It's also a major pillar of a new 
wiki-style directory of library information that we've built. In that 
context the licence serves to preserve access to the data beyond the 
lifetime of the individual contributors or of Talis itself.

I've been looking over the licencing for OSM and I think you're not 
covered. The CC licence can't apply since there was no creative effort 
involved in the data collection. This means that the unscrupulous out 
there can take the OSM data and repackage it however they like, 
including restricting access to it. In the decades that it's going to 
take to build an equivilent to navteq I think it's going to be 
increasingly important to preserve free access to the data despite any 
disasters that may happen along the way.

I'd like to work with the OSM community to use or adapt the Talis 
Community Licence for your needs. We're not precious about the name - 
it's called that mostly through lack of imagination (I originally called 
it the Data Freedom Licence but backed down since it sounded too 
arrogant). I've had some early conversations with legal experts at the 
periphery of the Creative Commons project and there seems to be 
willingness to cooperate on turning this into a wider community licence.
One idea I had was a BOF at XTech this year. I'm speaking in the Open 
Data track (on Embedded RDF not this licence unfortunately) just before 
Mikel Maron so I'm hoping that there'll be some people there who are 
interested in the licencing issues. What do you think?

BTW, good luck in the IOW this weekend.


[1] http://silkworm.talis.com/blog/archives/2005/09/data_freedom.html

Now blogging at http://iandavis.com/blog

talk mailing list
talk at openstreetmap.org

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