[OSM-legal-talk] Rules for the foundation to hold data assigned to it under

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Sat Jul 21 14:58:07 BST 2007


> It means that contributors are rewarded for making restrictively-licensed 
> changes to the map (by getting exclusive rights to a map which is better than 
> the PD map they started with), and that contributors are not rewarded for 
> making freely-copiable changes to the map (other people just rip-off their 
> work and sell it without giving anything back)

I am currently not rewarded for my work towards OSM, except with 
immaterial things (e.g. people may say thank you every now and then).

I don't expect this to change. I do not work for a "reward". I don't 
care whether others, who might have some good business idea, find their 
own "reward". If someone uses my data as a basis for anything - be that 
a work of art or a commercial product - I won't feel "ripped off".

Let me give you a parallel here: I do write a lot of free software. Some 
people send in patches and help the software get better. 99% of people 
just use the software, without ever "giving something back". Do I feel 
ripped off? No! I wrote the software to be used.

> It means that the latest copy of the map is not necessarily available for you 
> to use.  

Firstly, what's the "latest copy"? If ten different companies take the 
free data and "improve" and sell it, then there will be ten different 
"latest" versions, plus the eleventh that we're continuing to work on. 
If one of the ten companies manages to add real value to the map, hey, 
let them ask money for it, it's a free world!

> You just have to pay to host the out-of-date "public domain" version from 
> before people started adding their cool proprietary stuff to the map.

Do you really believe that we are so much worse than commercial 
entities? Do you really thing that *they* will have the cool stuff while 
*we* struggle to keep our (worse) product usable? Is that the opinion 
you have of us as a community? Come on! What will happen is: commercial 
entities will do exactly what you say, make some additions and sell it, 
but before they know it we will have overtaken them, again and again and 
again, because no commercial company can match exponential growth. So it 
is *they* who will be struggling to continue incorporating the new 
material we produce daily into their proprietary system. It will be very 
hard for them to keep up, and if they manage to keep up - good for them, 
they have earned whatever money their customers are paying them.

> It makes it very rewarding for sombody to make a restrictively-licensed fork 
> of the project, attracting the community of contributors to their project 
> (and away from OSM), e.g. with the promise of extra features that are only 
> available in the proprietary version.  

Does that mean: CC-BY-SA is here to keep us safe from competition, so 
that we can continue enjoying inferior features even if someone else 
offers better? Like socialist utopia where, unfortunately, the 
individuals may be tempted by evil captialism which pretends to offer 
more, but the individuals don't know what's good for themselves so we 
have to build a wall around them and shoot them if they want to leave - 
for their own good?

Sorry, got carried away here. But you must admit there's something of 
"we have to protect our contributors from themselves" in your argument, 
isn't there?

> Those "extra features" could even be as simple as an advertising campaign and 
> the backing of a well-known company.

Let's play the game out in our minds. Say our data were PD, and Google 
offers user-created mapping tomorrow and seeds their database with our 
data. (Beats me why they'd use our data, they'd have more than enough 
money to buy Teleatlas but let's just assume for some reason they like 
our data more.) But they say that anything you contribute is theirs to 
do as they like.

That, in your eyes, would probably the worst thing that can happen to 
us, right? Big company, lots of exposure, lots of money behind it. Many 
many people will contribute, their data will be much better than ours 
within a short time span.

But: Will this destroy us? Google already has maps with, on the whole, 
much better coverage than we do. Still people participate in OSM. Why? 
Because they want free data. Why should they stop participating if 
Google starts a competing project? Either Google's data is free, then 
OSM dies (but OSM's aims are furthered, so I don't care) or Google's 
data is not free, then OSM will continue just as it does now.

There will be a certain "market share" in community mapping that the big 
players will take away from us, we're seeing the start of that with the 
TomTom editor and so on. But that's only the part where people want to 
make a change on the map and don't care wheter the data is free or not. 
And this will happen, whether or not *our* data is used as the base or 
commercial data.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00.09' E008°23.33'

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