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From "Martin Desruisseaux (JIRA)" <j...@apache.org>
Subject [jira] [Created] (LEGAL-183) Is Apache software allowed to distribute the EPSG database?
Date Tue, 29 Oct 2013 15:30:30 GMT
Martin Desruisseaux created LEGAL-183:

             Summary: Is Apache software allowed to distribute the EPSG database?
                 Key: LEGAL-183
                 URL: https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/LEGAL-183
             Project: Legal Discuss
          Issue Type: Question
            Reporter: Martin Desruisseaux

The EPSG geodetic parameter dataset is a freely available structured repository of data used
in geospatial applications. This dataset is of critical importance to the Apache Spatial Information
System (SIS) project. The distribution terms have some conditions for which I would like advices.
But before, some context:

* EPSG is only data, no software.

* The EPSG database is maintained by the "International Association of Oil & Gas Producers"
(OGP) and members are big companies like Shell.

* Oil & Gas producers maintain and provide the EPSG database free of charge because the
cost of installing a drilling platform in the wrong location is too high. Since they rely
on maps and data produced by various actors (national map agencies, etc.), it is in their
best interest that those actors have access to the most accurate Map Projection definitions
when they create their data.

* The EPSG database, or something equivalent, is critical to a Spatial Information System.
Apache SIS without EPSG would probably lost a lot of its interest. For example EPSG codes
are the the-facto standard in most Web Map Services.

* I'm not aware of any freely available alternative to the EPSG database, and it would be
impossible for us to create one.

* Open source and commercial products like Proj.4 (MIT license), PostGIS, GDAL, MapServer,
Geoserver (GPL license), ESRI, Oracle Spatial and many other all include the EPSG database
(or a subset of it) in derived forms. I think that basically all major GIS products around
the world include the EPSG database in one form or the other.

The Term of Uses are there:


We can read "The EPSG Facilities are published by OGP at no charge. Distribution for profit
is forbidden" followed by "The data may be included in any commercial package provided that
any commerciality is based on value added by the provider and not on a value ascribed to the
EPSG Dataset which is made available at no charge". My interpretation is that anyone is allowed
to distribute Apache SIS + EPSG for profit, but would not be allowed to extract the EPSG tables
from Apache SIS and sell only them, without anything else. In other words, the restriction
would not apply on Apache SIS but emerge on what is remaining after one deleted everything
from Apache. Indeed, I have never hear about any legal dispute regarding other open source
projects that distribute EPSG data for years.

We can read "Ownership of the EPSG Dataset by OGP must be acknowledged in any publication
or transmission (by whatever means) thereof (including permitted modifications)". Is it something
that we can handle in the NOTICE file?

Next, the Term of Uses page lists the kind of modifications that users are allowed to do and
said "No data that has been modified other than as permitted in these Terms of Use shall be
attributed to the EPSG Dataset". My understanding is that they are protecting the credibility
of their name, in the same way that (I presume) the Apache foundation would not let a badly
broken fork of an Apache project call itself "Apache Foo". Better example: if someone copy
the ASCII table, then modify the definition of ASCII code 65 so that it stands for something
else than "A", then this is not the ASCII table anymore. It may have legitimate use, but this
is something else than ASCII. If we replace "ASCII" by "EPSG", we get the same situation.
E.g. EPSG code 4326 stands for "World Geodetic System 1984". If someone change that definition,
then this is not anymore the EPSG definition of code 4326.

So would Apache SIS be allowed to bundle the EPSG database in its distribution, with a restriction
that emerge only if the user delete all Apache work, and with a restriction to the changes
that are allowed in the database? If the later point is problematic, would if be an acceptable
workaround to use a mechanism that verify the database integrity (e.g. using a checksum) and
automatically rename "EPSG" in something else if a change is detected?

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