Open Data License/Open Issues

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This page is intended as a collection of open issues about the proposed Open Database License. Open issues are not necessarily criticisms, just things that need no be resolved before the license can be adopted or implemented.

Closed issues will be moved to Open Data License/Closed Issues based on the following discussions:

  • 6th May - Conference call with Legal Council. Open Issues and some of the items from Use Cases. - Q&A text. (PDF temporarily removed)
  • 11th May - Second conference call with Legal Council. Notes available (PDF temporarily removed)

Feel free to move them back to this page if you don't agree that an issue is closed.

Who will be able to change the license and by how much

Who will be able to change the license by how much and will it be possible for the key open elements such as Share-Alike to get removed?

There will be a contribution agreement, between the contributor and OSMF, which will regulate the ability of OSMF to change the license. The text of this agreement is under active discussion by the Licensing Working Group and is currently focussed around a voting procedure, by both contributors and OSMF members, to allow a license change.

Multiple Jurisdiction Clause will lead to a weak license

If there is no jurisdiction defined then can someone not publish the ODbL database in a country with the weakest IPR laws in the world and then those are the ones that will apply to anyone who uses the DB from that source, even if they then bring it back to a country with stronger IPR rules. Any case will then have to consider the IPR clauses of all countries in which derivative DBs were published. So OSM is published by OSMF in the UK. Someone 'exports' it to China and publishes a Derivative DB there. Someone uses that, exports it to the Congo and creates a derivative DB there and publishes it etc etc. I use China because it is well recognised that its IPR laws are weak and the Congo it struggling at present and is unlikely to have the structures to hear an important legal case like this. The ITO World lawyer has suggested that we have to define a Jurisdiction.

OSMF counsel agreed with the ITO World lawyer that choosing a specific jurisdiction for contracts is the usual route, as it provides greater predictability in how the text of the license will be interpreted. Jordan has responded on the legal mailing lists with his reasons for wanting an open jurisdiction. Discussion on this point is not over yet.


The ODbL is complex and difficult for non-lawyers to understand. FIL adds to the complexity. This may deter potential users from using the data.

The OSMF and LWG will provide guidance on the key points of the license in readable lay language. It is planned that these will be translated into many languages to make it easy for contributors and users of the data to understand their rights and obligations.

Issues with imported data

Review of compatibility of imported datasets

For imported datasets where we checked compatibility with our old license before import, will they be reviewed for compatibility with the new license?

  • TIGER is PD, so no issue.
  • Canadian supplier is already aware of our potential license change and has no issues barring last minute changes.
  • AND I'll check on (I'm the new guy).

Due diligence certainly required but note that both old and new licenses are effectively the same: Attribution, and Share-Alike provisions, with commercial use allowed provided that the provisions are met. MikeCollinson 16:05, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

  • Feel free to talk to UHUL and BNHelp. And no, old and new licenses are not the same, they are very different, allow different things, and one is contract based while the other is copyright based. Pavel 01:26, 4 March 2009 (UTC)


There are open issues in the Use Cases and also in open license questions.

See also

Issues for which changes to the ODbL have been proposed are listed at Open Data License/Suggested Changes. Issues with legal definitions in the ODbL are listed at Open Data License/Use Cases#Legal definitions.