Copyright not applicable to geodata?

There has been some rumor on the italian GFOSS mailing list, and also on many other forums about geodata copyright issues, after this exhaustive post by Jo Walsh.

The issue is quite simple: many open geodata advocates have been thinking for months that a good compromise for public institutions that own public geodata would have been a Creative Commons-family license. First of all, let’s be clear about Creative Commons: just talking about CC means nothing, because you should always specify which kind of licensing you intend to use for your creation.

Our last words, creation, introduce the major problem here. Geodata are mostly factual, because there’s no creativity in them. They just describe facts, geofacts if you like. People do not create data, they just put in digital shape something that exists. Or, if you prefer, there’s no creativity in geodata, opposed to music, poetry, photography… Creative Commons, yes.

This could mean that public geodata could only go through public domain. I have no hope for European States to choose public domain for our geodata, that have been paid with our much-suffered taxes. GFOSS will try to convince administrators to follow this innovating way.

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Stefano Costa

Archaeologist, I study the Late Antique and Early Medieval/Byzantine period on the northern side of the Mediterranean, focusing on pottery usage patterns. I'm also involved in open source and open knowledge communities, like OSGeo, the IOSA project and the Open Knowledge Foundation.

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