[OSM-legal-talk] cc-by-sa and j2me application-data bundle

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Sat Jul 7 18:33:43 BST 2007


> whilst researching about osm and j2me mobile phones, stumbled across
> "Vietnamese GPS, vgps" which say they support openstreetmap data. It
> looks quite nice.

First of all, if they're based in Vietnam, then actually enforcing any 
copyright claims there (including enforcing a CC-BY-SA license) is 
unlikely to happen.

> .osm files have to be compiled with the Java source to make the
> application. It's not open source, so the developers want people to
> send them their .osm files, and they would make the j2me application,
> for a negotiable fee.
> I was wondering if this fits in with the CC-BY-SA licence?

I think so, yes. CC-BY-SA doesn't make any assumptions about other 
components (like their program code) that are used in making up the 
derived work. It is ok for them to charge money, it is ok for them to 
not release their source.

However, the end product must be licensed CC-BY-SA, i.e. anyone's free 
to copy it.

> I couldn't get it to work, so couldn't check. If they were made with
> osm data, I would imagine, however, that they would need to have the
> proper attribution?


> From what I gather the CC-BY-SA allows people to be able to make money
> out of doing things with osm data (and I wish the vgps guys well!!),
> so long as, if they distribute it, they give any distribution a
> CC-BY-SA licence.


> Is selling a compiled application to one person distribution?


However, CC-BY-SA postulates that if things are published they need to 
be published CC-BY-SA; if things remain unpublished, then nobody cares. 
In your scenario this means that if the person ordering software from 
them orders this only for himself and has no interest in sharing it with 
others, then there's nothing to force them to give it away!

CC-BY-SA says that they must not forbid their customer to make copies; 
but if the customer has no desire to make copies, then there's nothing 
to force him.

> There's nothing about having to release the source in the cc-by-sa is there?


> If I gave them some money and made one for my city, and then
> distributed it, what then?

They must not, by the terms of CC-BY-SA, deny you the right to copy it. 
If they do, they're violating the license and lose the right to use OSM 
data. A very interesting legal question now is this: If they hand you 
the software and tell you you're not allowed to copy it, they have 
violated the license. But does that now give you an automatic right to 
copy it nonetheless? After all, you're not only copying the CC-BY-SA 
part of the derived product, you're copying something that's partly 
their intellectual property. It might well be that you'd be getting in 
legal trouble by distributing their software. (Not to mention potential 
troubles with the Vietnamese mafia.)

The whole thing would be totally different if they sold their 
application separately and offered some kind of paid "conversion 
service" for OSM data. In that case, only the resulting converted OSM 
data file would be subject to CC-BY-SA, and the application would be 
under whatever license they want.

Layman's opinion, of course.


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