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Talk:Open Database License

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I'd like to discuss here whether or not the ODbL is a free license. Specifically, I'm concerned with whether or not the section 4.6 requirement violates the following criterion:

  • The freedom to study the work and apply the information: The licensee must be allowed to examine the work and to use the knowledge gained from the work in any way. The license may not, for example, restrict "reverse engineering".

Here are the definitions and the relevant clause from the ODbL:

“Database” – A collection of material (the Contents) arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means offered under the terms of this License.

“Derivative Database” – Means a database based upon the Database, and includes any translation, adaptation, arrangement, modification, or any other alteration of the Database or of a Substantial part of the Contents. This includes, but is not limited to, Extracting or Re-utilising the whole or a Substantial part of the Contents in a new Database.

“Produced Work” – a work (such as an image, audiovisual material, text, or sounds) resulting from using the whole or a Substantial part of the Contents (via a search or other query) from this Database, a Derivative Database, or this Database as part of a Collective Database.

“Publicly” – means to Persons other than You or under Your control by either more than 50% ownership or by the power to direct their activities (such as contracting with an independent consultant).

“Use” – As a verb, means doing any act that is restricted by copyright or Database Rights whether in the original medium or any other; and includes without limitation distributing, copying, publicly performing, publicly displaying, and preparing derivative works of the Database, as well as modifying the Database as may be technically necessary to use it in a different mode or format.

4.6 Access to Derivative Databases. If You Publicly Use a Derivative Database or a Produced Work from a Derivative Database, You must also offer to recipients of the Derivative Database or Produced Work a copy in a machine readable form of:

a. The entire Derivative Database; or
b. A file containing all of the alterations made to the Database or the method of making the alterations to the Database (such as an algorithm), including any additional Contents, that make up all the differences between the Database and the Derivative Database.

The Derivative Database (under a.) or alteration file (under b.) must be available at no more than a reasonable production cost for physical distributions and free of charge if distributed over the internet.

Please note in particular that the definition of "Use" includes "any act that is restricted by copyright or Database Rights", and that database rights include the right to extract factual information.

ODbL attempts to restrict the ability to extract uncopyrightable facts from a database, therefore one who agrees to follow it is not "allowed to examine the work and to use the knowledge gained from the work in any way". (An example of such knowledge which ODbL attempts to restrict would be the latitudes/longitudes of all restaurants in Florida.)

An+h0ny 16:21, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

I see your point, and I have two comments on the matter.
The section generally enforces the copyleft nature of the license, which is a permissible restriction per our Definition. You are allowed to examine the work and to use the knowledge in any way… provided the results of your use remain free (in a sense).
However, you might argue that this restriction goes beyond copyright protection (in the strict sense), and you would be right (as the copyleft clause usually applies only on derivative works in the sense used in copyright laws). But then, the whole Definition of Free Cultural Works is talking about copyright protection only – but what about the rest? For instance, trademarks – even though an image might be in the public domain copyright-wise, it might be protected by a trademark and you are not allowed to use it in some ways (e.g. on your commercial products). On Wikimedia Commons, these are known as non-copyright restrictions and are generally allowed (as being often context-dependant).
So… how should we (generally) handle those many “non-unified” (country-specific) copyright-related aspects like sui generis database protection, moral rights, etc.? And those non-copyright restrictions? I am not sure.
--Mormegil 15:19, 12 December 2010 (UTC)