[OSM-legal-talk] The big license debate
frederik at remote.org
Wed Feb 28 17:10:12 GMT 2007
> I may have missed something, but I don't believe that "is generally
It is not generally agreed that "share alike" is bad or whatever. R(J)
> I think it is generally agreed that with the current license, that
> statement is false.
And with "that statement" he meant:
> OpenStreetMap is a project aimed squarely at creating and providing
> free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The
> project was started because most maps you think of as free actually
> legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from
> using them in creative, productive or unexpected ways.
The statement suggests that OpenStreetMap, unlike "most maps you
think of as free", has no legal or technical restrictions on its use,
and thus will not hold back people from using it in "creative,
productive or unexpected ways".
This is simply and obviously not true. The only thing that can be
said for the above statement is that it does not actually promise
anything - it doesn't say "OpenStreetMap is...", it just says "... is
aimed at...", and it does not explicitly say that OpenStreetMap has
less legal or technical restrictions, it just says that
"OpenStreetMap was started because most maps ... have legal or
So the statement is really pure marketing speak, but I still think
the message getting across here is "OpenStreetMap has free data for
anyone to use in creative, productive, ur unexpected ways that are
not possible with most other maps." And that's plain wrong. In fact,
for a very large number of "creative, prodcutive, or unexpected ways"
of use, people will be better off (and less restricted in what they
can and cannot do) by buying data from one of the big providers.
A more honest opening paragraph for the front page would probably be:
"OpenStreetMap is a project aimed at creating a geographic dataset
for the world and providing it free of charge to anyone using it for
non-proprietary purposes. You don't have to pay for our data, but if
you create something with it, you may not restrict copying of your
The emphasis here being "free of charge", not free as in freedom. I
still maintain that anything published unter CC-BY-SA does not
warrant the attribute "free".
> Attribution is a restriction; do you want to get rid of that too?
> Maybe we should get rid of laws that prevent us from dumping
> garbage in the streets, after all it’s a restriction imposed on us.
> You have to justify why a restriction is onerous before junking it,
> and equally justify why it is valuable before imposing it. You show
> me yours, I’ll show you mine ;-)
You're getting this wrong. It is not morally wrong to have
restrictions. But it is morally wrong to talk as if you had none. If
you have restrictions on dumping garbage, then don't say "This
community was forged because a lot of other communities don't allow
you to dump garbage."
This thread is about changing *either* the license *or* the stated
aim of the project, because they are not compatible.
> The value of SA is enormous; it builds a community and prevents
> others from “cashing out” and taking our work for their own without
> contributing back. As OSM grows the clause will facilitate healthy
> competition without letting companies take the work so far, say
> “thank you very much” and drop all support for the community.
This mindset comes through in many of the postings. But as a
contributor, I am not expecting something back either. I work with
the project because (and as long as) it is fun. This fun is
completely independent of what others might do. I would, in fact,
derive some satisfaction from someone setting up big business with
the stuff I helped to create, attribution or no attribution. A little
bit of envy would of course always go with it (why wasn't it me who
invented that, why don't I get a share of his big bucks), but no
license will alleviate that.
> The second is that a vocal minority makes enough noise in favour of
> a BSD-type license or public domain declarations to override the
> silent majority, who are quite happy with CC BY-SA.
I object to (a) being called part of a vocal minority, (b) my
statements being called "noise", and (c) the assumption that the
silent majority would be less happy with PD, BSD or whatever. In
fact, I find (b) quite unpolite. And I believe that the "silent
majority" just doesn't care, so please don't count them as votes for
the status quo.
> The two together are really quite toxic. Let’s not sacrifice reason
> and the future of the OSM community on the altar of quick bids for
> fame and cash.
I desire neither.
> I'm willing to help put together a comprehensive legal FAQ on CC BY-
> SA, BSD and PD in good time for SoTM
Sounds to me like you would have to put a lot of effort in to achieve
Frederik Ramm ## eMail frederik at remote.org ## N49°00.09' E008°23.33'
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