[OSM-legal-talk] [OSM-talk] OSMF - OSM usage guidelines

Ian Sergeant isergean at hih.com.au
Sun Nov 18 23:28:22 GMT 2007

"Karl Newman" <siliconfiend at gmail.com> wrote:

> And honestly, what's the harm in *comparing* to a copyrighted map? I'm
> thinking side-by-side in a non-automated manner (i.e, not synchronized
> scrolling), and not overlaid. My envisioned usage is as a QC function,
> to identify areas which might need to be physically verified--spelling
> differences, missing roads (easter eggs?), etc. So, 1. What's the harm
> in that, and 2. How would anyone ever detect you had done it, let
> alone prove it?

Imagine the scene, in the boardroom of some multinational mapping company,
MegaMapping Inc.

OSM has achieved its goals, and it has freely available accurate mapping
data for the planet, available for free download for every GIS application,
every handheld navigator, and a complete suite of online mapping

MegaMapping Inc, is on the verge of losing billions of dollars of revenue,
and it asks its lawyers to find a way to shut them down.

The lawyers realise there is a two bit operation (no offence intended to
all those who are committed to the project, but you know what I mean..) and
this is a very poorly defined area of the law.  They are riding a wave of
resurgence of intellectual property law, being driven by the US and EU
around the world.

The lawyers agree to target OSM as a derived work.  Their arguments to
claim that OSM is a derived work are based on the precedents that a derived
work is substantial appropriation of the labour of another.  The argument
runs that OSM has leveraged off the work of MegaMapping Inc by only having
to survey those areas which have roads, or features that need to be mapped.
They have reduced their labour required by OSM members to map, by
appropriation of the labour of MegaMapping Inc.  Therefore OSM is a derived
work from the maps of MegaMapping Inc.

The details of the suit arrive at OSMF.  Shutdown the OSM servers, hand
over all the data which now becomes the property of MegaMapping Inc, or
face a crippling law suit backed up by the resources of MegaMapping Inc.

In my opinion, before we use any copyrighted source in any way, shape or
form, whether that be for verification or anything else, we need to be
confident that we are not only doing so in a legal way, but it is
completely clear cut enough to legally defensible by the most
straightforward of legal principles.

If MegaMapping Inc is really threatened by OSM, they will be using every
legal method at their disposal to maintain their revenue.  They owe that to
their shareholders.

The easiest way OSM can steer clear of the possibility ot his happening, is
for OSM to not use anything produced by MegaMapping Inc, in any way.


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