[od-discuss] CC licenses and data(bases)

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Wed Feb 2 13:09:28 GMT 2011

On 2 February 2011 11:16, Adrian Pohl <ad.pohl at googlemail.com> wrote:
> Hello,
> I just read this post by Mike Linksvayer on the CC blog:
> http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/26283
> Amongst others it says:
> "We occasionally encounter a misimpression that CC licenses can’t be
> used for data and databases, or that we don’t want CC licenses to be
> used for data and databases."

CC are being a little bit disingenuous here. It was CC (or parts of CC
itself) that had the whole: "Don't use CC licenses for data(bases)"
(other than CCZero). There has clearly been a policy change within CC
here (a good thing IMO).

There is an FAQ on Open Data Commons site:


> And:
> "CC licenses can and should be used for data and databases, right now
> (as they have been for 8 years) — with the important caveat that CC
> 3.0 license conditions do not extend to “protect” a database that is
> otherwise uncopyrightable."

Right, so there goes using CC licenses for data(bases) in the EU if
you want to utilize the sui-generis DB rights.

> Obviously CC and OKF have different opinions about CC licenses being
> appropriate for data. I usually supported OKFN's view that CC licenses

Not really. As explained above, CC have substantially changed their
position it seems (hence the big 'clarificatory' blog post).

> aren't appropriate for data and we recently expressed it in the
> Principles on Open bibliographic Data[1]. I had first doubts about
> this when the Berlin based lawyer Till Kreutzer with whom the hbz
> created a legal guide on the digitization of public domain material[2]
> couldn't find anything bad with using CC licenses for data but at last
> we supported using data licenses in the guide.[3] The post on the CC
> blog increased my doubts as there are now two professional sources
> that don't find anything bad with using CC for data.

I don't know what Till said so it's difficult to comment but the main
question would be around the CC license treatment of DB rights.

> So, these different opinions from the two organizations increase my
> uncertainty and might create uncertainty on licensors' side. I would
> be grateful about a simple comparison of CC and ODB licenses in regard
> to data licensing that makes it clear to non-lawyers why the different
> licenses are more or less appropriate for data and data bases.

We'd been asking for a clarification from CC about position on DBs, on
interoperability etc, for approx a year and a half but haven't yet had
a very clear response :)


> All the best
> Adrian
> [1] http://openbiblio.net/principles/
> [2] http://www.irights.info/index.php?q=node/1987
> [3] http://www.hbz-nrw.de/dokumentencenter/veroeffentlichungen/Digitalisierungsleitfaden.pdf,
> p.49
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