[geo-discuss] switch2osm.org launched today

Harry Wood mail at harrywood.co.uk
Thu Jan 26 14:09:59 UTC 2012

Wow. That response was more negative than anything I had expected.

You want to talk about geo-data licensing? I usually avoid the topic because frankly I'm sick of it. The OpenStreetMap mailing lists have been swamped by these debates for years now. Of course from an "open philosophy" point of view it's very important, so I guess it makes sense to bring it up here, but you'll find the same discussion gone over in a lot more details on the OpenStreetMap legal mailing list for example. In fact it sounds very much like you're repeating the rhetoric of people on those lists who deliberately try to de-rail the license change process we're currently undertaking, and undermine the hard work of a community of people who are giving open geo-data to the world.

A lot of folks in the OpenStreetMap project would agree with you that the share-alike license is not ideal because it puts some people off using the maps, and ideally we would move to something more permissive, perhaps just to public domain. Right or wrong, this is not actually an option at this point. You talk about it as if a boardroom committee at OpenStreetMap inc. need to take this decision. There is no decision making body of OpenStreetMap who can decide to release the data under a different license, we have to collectively agree, and ask every single contributor to agree (thousands of them).

The project *has* undertaken a process over many years now, of consulting with lawyers to set-up a better license, and slowly persuading and requesting to thousands contributors that they agree to this relicensing. This has been slow and painful enough, even though the new license is quite similar, still retaining the share-alike element. The new license is not worse. It's a approximately equal to the current license, but more enforceable in the EU where database directives apply. You *currently* have to share-alike data uses, except you *might* get away with not doing so via legal loopholes (if any of this ever went to court). The new license is clearer, though not perfect, and is a little more permissive regarding downstream uses. 

OKFN do some great work (with http://opendefinition.org/ ) helping to explain open licenses and things like share-alike requirements to laymen. With geo-data it's very complicated. The *spirit* of the OpenStreetMap license, is very much that people should feel free to use the data in new and interesting ways, just like any other open licensed project. OSM would like the support of OKFN to help get that message across.

Your conclusion that the whole project is a problem is ridiculously extreme. I certainly I hope that isn't reflective of how other's in OKFN view OpenStreetMap.  

Harry Wood
OpenStreetMap volunteer

 From: Vidar Hokstad <vidar at hokstad.com>
To: Harry Wood <mail at harrywood.co.uk> 
Cc: "geo-discuss at lists.okfn.org" <geo-discuss at lists.okfn.org> 
Sent: Wednesday, 25 January 2012, 22:57
Subject: Re: [geo-discuss] switch2osm.org launched today

The license makes OSM totally unusable to me and a lot of other people, and in fact I find it's existence a problem as it makes it pretty infeasible to get traction for truly open mapping.

IMHO your section on licensing is also misleading, as the Open Database License makes this situation *worse* for most people by forcing people to share the underlying data too, not just the tiles, in situations where they might be deemed to have created derivative works. I know of several companies that will either be in violation of the license or be forced to open datasets they contractually can't open at that time if they keep using OSM.

So count me as definitively not supportive of OSM as long as the license remains as restrictive as it is.

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