License for the tzdata information

Robert Elz kre at munnari.OZ.AU
Wed May 6 10:23:51 UTC 2009

    Date:        Tue, 05 May 2009 10:31:52 -0400
    From:        "Paul Koning" <Paul_Koning at>
    Message-ID:  <m1ab5rk4dj.fsf at>

  | Can we get an authoritative answer please?

Personally I'd hate for the tzcode (or data) to have any kind of licence.

The reason is that to have a licence, there has to be a licensor,
someone (some legal person, or entity) who is granting the licence.

Currently (unless either ado, or the NIH, wants to be that) there is
nothing around to grant the licence - who do we really think "owns"
this data - who can even say they're responsible for the compilation
of publicly available data?   This is all a co-operative effort,
and if any licence were to be granted, it would have to be done by
everyone who's ever contributed, individually - and that's just a
nightmare to contemplate - and how in any case would we, or anyone,
ever know it was complete - that we hadn't missed a single contributor?
(And for what it is worth, some of the contributors over time - or at
least one I know of anyway, are no longer alive to grant anything, it
would have to be done by their estate(s).)

People here have said that everything (created anyway) is copyright by
someone - and there has to be a licence for anyone else to use it,
and in a sense that might be right - but all of the legal authorities
come from cases where someone is claiming ownership, and someone else
has been trying to deny that (some results may go either way, but there's
always a claim).

I'd barely hesitate to assume that there's not a single case anywhere
where the issue was that that an author was attempting to deny they
held copyright on some material, and someone else was trying to force
it upon them...   That just doesn't happen - who would be bringing
suit, and for what?

That's what I'd like to see with this (and much other) data that we really
want to be "public domain" - where that concept might, or might not
exist - that is, we all simply refuse to claim ownership.  Not as creator
of the data, or as a compiler of the data set.  But not being the owner of
anything means that we also cannot (rationally) give out a licence for
its use (or not a meaningful one anyway).

I do however understand the needs, particularly of large (rich) corporations
that need to do all they can to protect themselves from accidentally
misusing copyright data, and becoming vulnerable to lawsuits because of that.

A licence might seem to help them - but it doesn't (or shouldn't) really,
as the mere existence of the licence doesn't mean its issuer had the
right to do that - the organisation receiving it really still has to
investigate, find who the real owner(s) are, and that the licence is
genuine - barely any different than investigating to find that there's
no determinable owner.

What we might do instead however, is to make it clear to all contributors
of tz code and data (ie: us) that by contributing, we are agreeing not
to enforce any rights that we may have (whether we do or do not) against
any person for any use of the tz code and data in any wy whatever.

If we were to put a notice to that effect - that all contributors have
so agreed, that should perhaps satisfy those people who need some kind
of reassurance before using the data, without anyone ever needing to
claim that they're the owner of all or any part of the tz collection.


More information about the tz mailing list