[OSM-legal-talk] The big license debate

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Fri Mar 2 11:24:53 GMT 2007

Rob Myers wrote:

> Quoting Richard Fairhurst <richard at systemeD.net>:
>> If you, or the free culture guys, have a philosophy that everything
>> should be Free (in the GNU sense of the word) then that's great. Just
>> don't think that OSM as a project shares the same ambition.
> The OSM Foundation page states:
> "The OpenStreetMap Foundation is an international non-profit organisation
> dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free
> geospatial data and to providing geospatial data for anybody to use and
> share."
> So I would say that it does share that ambition.

The statement refers to "geospatial data" exclusively. Not anything else.

As a project, OSM doesn't have a viewpoint on maps, software, creative  
works, anything. Just geospatial data. So when Lars said:

> The atlas you want to produce is a non-free one.  It doesn't
> contribute to the domain of freedom that OSM wants to expand.

then that is not supported by the statement you quoted (a statement  
with which I'd agree, though I suspect we disagree on the meaning of  
the word "free"!). OSM doesn't have an opinion on non-free atlases,  
only on the geodata used as part of their production.

> [...]
> But since the most successful """open""" projects are copyleft, and they have
> beaten direct competition from non-copyleft projects (GNU-Linux/BSD,
> Wikipedia/H2G2), it falls to those who want to deviate from this successful
> pattern to explain why maps (or geodata) are different.

I wouldn't say Linux has unequivocally beaten BSD. One has got onto  
lots of people's desktops through Debian, Ubuntu etc., the other via  
OS X. Perhaps copyleft in operating systems enables "techie  
community-driven", whereas PD-like enables "strong design-driven"  
which appeals more to the "great unwashed" (among whom I'd count  
myself) than the technologically super-literate. I don't know, I'm  
very much a dilettante in such matters.

Whatever, the result is that lots of people are now using a robust,  
secure OS and are able to access and promote community-built software  
(whether GPL, BSD, PD or whatever). That has to be good.

>> OSM is made up of many people with many different beliefs, each with their
>> own reason for contributing to the common denominator: open maps of
>> streets.
> Copyleft is the best protection of these diverse individuals ongoing
> ability to access "open" maps of streets.

Come come, that's an assertion, not an argument. :)


More information about the legal-talk mailing list