[Osmf-talk] Future of DWG work, copyright, vandalism
frederik at remote.org
Thu Jun 7 11:13:08 BST 2012
Dear OSMF members,
I would like to hear your opinion about two aspects of DWG work and
how we would like to handle that kind of work in the future.
DWG's daily work falls largely in three categories:
Usually starts with someone complaining about someone else breaking
things. Sometimes involves blocking the "vandal", often it is later
found out that it was a misunderstanding and not true vandalism, but we
do occasionally have people who continue with a new account as soon as
we block them.
Usually starts with someone complaining about someone else uploading
data in violation of a third-party license (e.g. tracing from Google
imagery); often requires just a little email and reverting data.
Users complaining about each other's work - e.g. whether the name tag of
something should by in cyrillic or not, whether something is a track or
a footway, whatever. Sometimes results in edit wars or even one party
starting to vandalize stuff.
Most of these issues can be solved with a little patience and talking to
people - for now. There are two issues where I am unsure how to handle them.
A. Suspected Copyright Violations
Only yesterday I received a long-ish message of one user who noted that
someone else was mapping nature reserves, the boundaries of which did
not seem to be available anywhere. So the user sent a message to the
other guy asking for the source, and the other guy said something about
copying data from a sign somewhere, and upon further inquiry got caught
up in contradictions.
So the situation is: There's some data in OSM which is not *clearly*
from a non-allowed source; the original contributor refuses to specify
the source (or cites a source that we cannot verify); someone thinks
that this might be a copyright violation.
We simply do not have the manpower to actually research cases like that.
We need a simple policy that allows us, or ideally the community, to
deal with such cases.
Such a policy could for example be one of
* "Data for which no credible source is given in the changeset or on
request by the contributing mapper is subject to deletion. The mapper
must demonstrate, on request, that his source is legal. If the mapper
chooses not to tell us his source then we must assume it is not legal."
(In many cases the "credible source" could be "survey" but the boundary
of a protection area might not always be surveyable.)
* "We only assume a copyright violation when we actually see that the
mapper has contributed something that looks identical to a known
unsuitable source, or where the rights owner contacts us; if someone
suspects someone else of copyright infringement, we ask the suspect
whether they can confirm that their sources are legal and if they say
yes, then that's sufficiently diligent."
* "We only act if someone - rights owner or other mappers - presents us
with incontrovertible proof that data has come from an unsuitable source."
This is a balancing act which has to satisfy three goals: First, it must
not be too much work for us; second, it must prove to the outside world
that OSM takes copyright seriously and does not ignore problems; third,
it must not place too much burden on the mappers.
Essentially, what I'm after is some sort of general procedure (maybe
even flowchart) of dealing with (suspected) copyright violations.
B. Continuing Vandalism
As I said initially, most vandals aren't really vandals, and most real
vandals go a way after you block them once or send them a message. If
that doesn't help, I usually send them a second message explaining how
the law in their respective criminalizes computer vandalism, and this
(plus the implied "we know which country you're from") often helps. But
not always; there are people who just go on. There was an user in Norway
who created fantasy bus routes all the time; we blocked him and told him
that what he was doing was illegal in Norway, but he continued. He has
now signed up using the account name "Adolf Hitler" and continues his
funny little game in London
(http://www.openstreetmap.org/browse/changeset/11789344). It's not a big
deal, he only does it once a month and it is reverted easily enough, but
if he were more resourceful and invested more time, he could create more
harm. We don't currently have a problem with people like that but I
foresee that they will become more of a problem in the future, that's
why I am thinking about it.
There are three things we can do:
* technical measures - try to profile the vandal and disallow signups or
edits that match the pattern.
* policy measures - stop giving full edit privileges to every new user;
instead, make it so that new users have some limits such as so-and-so
many edits per day, or only make edits within a certain range of your
home location, or you have to be "vouched for" by at least two other
mappers before you can edit for real, whatever. One would have to find a
policy that takes the fun out of vandalism while not being a turn-off
for real mappers.
* legal measures - pay lawyers to go to court and request the real
address of the IP number that vandalizes our data, then send nasty
letters to people and demand money. (I imagine that most vandals must be
kids who would be in for trouble with their parents once they start
getting recorded letters.) If the movie industry can do it, so can we,
provided that vandalizing our data is indeed illegal. This might require
"hardening" the process first, i.e. getting legal advice for updating
our CT to include wording that makes it clear(er) that edits not founded
in reality are considered vandalism, and it might also require
lawyer-approved notices to be sent out by DWG (instead of my usual
informal "hey, stop that, we don't like it").
I'm not very fond of either of the latter two - policy measures always
have a ring of "you have to prove to us that you are a good guy before
we let you contribute", and legal measures are probably expensive (would
you want your OSMF donations to be used to pay for legal advice at
£200/hr?) and can appear draconian ("Great-Grandmother, 85, bankrupted
by OpenStreetMap for letting child use computer...").
But I fear that the New Testament approach to vandalism ("If someone
vandalizes Oslo, let him vandalize London as well...") won't do either.
I would prefer that we make our minds up about all this *before* we have
to use it.
Frederik Ramm ## eMail frederik at remote.org ## N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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