My understanding is this:

The elements of a database that are copyrightable are the selection and the arrangement.

There is no way that we're going to come close to the arrangement of any other database, so I'm not going to discuss that.

As for the selection (what items the database creators have decided to include), we really don't have to worry about that. Wikidata is going to be taking what it needs from various places. I can't think of a single database, even the US Census database, where we're going be taking anywhere near as much as we're not going to be taking. Simply put, all of these databases are going to be holding a lot of information that isn't useful to our purposes. If we did decide to import a database in whole, then we might run into arramgenent problems, however Wikidata has neither the technical mechanisms nor the actual need to import databases whole. We're going to be taking individual data points, from dozens to hundreds of different places, and mixing them together.

I think that part of the issue here is that Avenue really isn't aware of what Wikidata's objectives are. With the objectives that Wikidata has, I don't see how this could be an issue.


On Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM, Denny Vrandečić <> wrote:
2012/11/30 Avenue <>

On Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 2:57 PM, Denny Vrandečić <> wrote:
Unfortunately, CC-BY-SA and ODBL are not compatible. You can not take content licensed under one license and republish it under the other license. Thus follows that using ODBL for Wikidata does not relieve us from *any* of the possible legal issues that are mentioned here due to Wikidata using CC0 as a license.

I think we are talking about different legal issues. My main concern is about external databases, with rights held by other organisations, that we wish to host on Wikidata (in whole or in substantial part). 

Wikidata can not and will not host whole databases. I said that explicitly int he last Email and I am repeating it here. Wikidata is not a collection of databases. That is also not supported by our software. For this use cases, CKAN is the appropriate software and DataHub would be an appropriate public instance of CKAN.

See my earlier post ( for an example, based on the data in and the infoboxes for various county articles listed within. This data is licensed by the UK government under the Open Government License (OGL,

I believe UK editors would be breaking their country's law if they uploaded a significant portion of this database to Wikidata without following the terms of the OGL. These include giving credit and linking to the license where possible. They could probably do this in an adhoc fashion through the reference field, but it would be much better to have proper support for license tracking built in.

You can not upload a database to Wikidata. This is no feature that we intend to implement. Wikidata can not host whole databases.

Having different licenses for different data items in Wikidata, as was suggested here, is not possible, as single data items are not licensable.

My suggestion was that we keep track of licenses for different databases held in Wikidata, not for each individual item. 

Wikidata can not and will not host different databases.

If Wikidata was a collection of databases, like e.g. OKFN's DataHub, then it would make sense to provide for different licenses for each of these databases. But Wikidata does not have any notion of different databases. You cannot take a database and simply upload it to Wikidata.

Wikidata can certainly be thought of as a collection of databases (or parts of databases), regardless of whether Wikidata itself distinguishes between them.

This is the central issue. Wikidata is *not* a collection of databases. The notion of different databases does not exist anywhere in Wikidata. It is not represented in the backend, it is not in the UI, it is nowhere to be found.

I've only played around a little with Wikidata, and I'll take your word for it that simple uploads of databases are impossible. But based on what Wikidata promises to do, it must still be possible to upload them somehow.

No. For none of the promises of Wikidata is the upload of databases as a whole necessary.

I hope this clears up some of the raised concerns.


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