[OSM-legal-talk] The big license debate
frederik at remote.org
Thu Mar 1 22:00:47 GMT 2007
>> But: If my English is not totally broken, then "the same freedom" would
>> refer to the freedom that I enjoyed: taking OSM data and making
>> something from it. *That* same freedom of course exists for everyone,
>> completely undisturbed by my making a proprietary work based on OSM data.
> Sorry, this is not convincing. Have you heard of the Gnu
> Manifesto? Have you followed the 20 years of discussion between
> GNU/Linux and BSD software developers? You make it sound as if we
> were here to define "freedom" for the first time. We're not.
I stand unmoved. I enjoy a certain freedom regarding OSM data and make
use of it. I publish my results under a restrictive license. The exact
same freedom that I enjoyed is still there for everyone. I am not
denying the same freedom that I enjoyed to anybody. There is no single
act that was possible before my intervention and is not possible
thereafter. So what have I taken away that was there before?
>> Perhaps you can elaborate on this. Let's say I spend a man-year working
>> on an atlas based on OSM data. Finally it goes into print. The cost of
>> the book in a bookshop will contain taxes, profit for the bookshop,
>> profit for the publisher, production cost, and payment for my year of
>> work. Another publisher can now take the book, reproduce it, and sell it
> Yes, and that's great! In fact, that's the whole point of it.
I said that the SA license is anti-commerce. Rob said it is not. I wrote
down the example quoted above to demonstrate that there are cases - and
not just a few marginal ones! - where the "SA" part inhibits commercial
activity (and, by the way, creativity). The important lines you left out
from the quote are: "I will go unpaid, my publisher will sit on his
expenses. From this, it follows that neither I nor my publisher can
afford to produce the atlas in the first place."
I utterly fail to see what's "great" or even "the whole point" about
somebody *not* producing an atlas from our data. Because that's what
will happen - the production of the atlas is keyed to the chance of
making money, or at least reclaiming expenses, and if that chance is
denied by the license, then the creative act *will* *not* *happen*. This
is not a choice between a copyrighted atlas and a free atlas, but a
choice between a copyrighted atlas and no atlas.
I can see a certain fascination in the idea that at some point in the
future this might not be so, and somehow producing a free atlas will be
the norm. But at the current time in our social and economical
evolution, this is simply not the case.
>> True. I honestly believe that if we were to write to all contributors
>> saying "we're changing to PD, do you want us to remove your data then?",
> I don't think this is possible. What you can do is to start a new
> project from scratch, very similar but based on PD data.
I wouldn't want to do that because it would hurt the overall goal. The
new PD project wouldn't be allowed to copy OSM data (or actually it
would, provided it contacts every single contributor and copies only
data from those who say ok), and OSM, while being allowed to copy the PD
project's data, would not be able to make much of it because the effort
of screening everything (for double segments and such) would be higher
than just going somewhere and map the place oneself.
On a side note - say there was a node in OSM data that was created by
Alice based on GPS tracks uploaded by Bob, later joined to form a
segment by Carol (and so on) - whose permission is required to make that
node or segment PD? What if Carol moved the node slightly so that
Alice's contribution was fully overwritten... I am sure this must have
been discussed a lot of times in Wikipedia context?
But coming back to above "asking all users" - I am 99% sure that our
current license will not work for us much longer. No matter *how* you
change it - create something entirely custom, go PD, use CC-BY-SA with a
clause that transfers attribution rights and/or gives the OSMF a right
to make exemptions - we *will* one day have to change the license, and
this will most likely mean that we'll have some kind of switch-over in
which some data is lost because the people who own the data cannot be
contacted. The thought may hurt but it's no use to bury your head in the
sand hoping it will just go away.
(At least that's what I gathered from reading what a lot of people,
among them many "old hands", are writing. Nobody is proposing a finished
solution; most seem to accept that the current license has deficits, and
many seem to hope that it will somehow be possible to find an
interpretation of the current license that will make it possible to
stick with it. If I am not mistaken, the whole "let us work with the CC
folks..." idea stems from the hope that if there someday was a special
CC license for geodata (or databases), then one could upgrade from
CC-BY-SA 2.0 to whatever that is without actually having to ask all
contributors. I am skeptical - the "... or compatible license ..."
wording was only introduced with 2.5, and 2.0 specifies that
sublicensing has to happen "under this license".)
The only thing that is probably "not possible" about what I wrote above
(writing to all contributors...) is the notion that acceptance of the
new license will be the default; so it would have to be: "We're
switching to PD, will you allow us to keep your data?".
Frederik Ramm ## eMail frederik at remote.org ## N49°00.09' E008°23.33'
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