[OSM-legal-talk] Attribution

Jochen Topf jochen at remote.org
Wed Jan 9 09:08:21 GMT 2008

Again, we are talking about many different things on many different
levels here. What is this attribution, we are talking about? At the
moment we basically have none. In theory the data is there, in practice
people looking at the map don't see it. Has that kept people and/or
organizations from contributing?

We have to ask ourselves why people or organizations want attribution.
Is it because they are under some legal requirement? Is it because they
want a pat on the back for their effort? The last one would be
understandable. But does it actually make sense to do attribution the
way we do? How can you do attribution properly when you create a big
mix-bag of all the contributions and everybody can change everything?
Does it matter in practice that you could find out for each piece of
data who touched it when?

The GPL has, for good reasons, no attribution clause. Open Source
projects don't name every contributor or every line of code in the file
comments. Even if they use source code control, they store the name of
the committer, not of the author. Wikipedia is also working well without

Sure, we can and should keep the internal database of who contributed
what. And we should expose this information better. But that has nothing
to do with the license and everything to do with the way we handle

But do we have to force everybody who uses out data to do the
attribution? At the moment we don't and nobody has complained yet. And
nobody has figured out a way to do that. How would you attribute the
thousand people who contributed to some small map you are printing

And I also would love a wiki page that collects all the major
contributions. I just created the 'Import/Catalogue' wiki page as a
start a few days ago. Please contribute to that, IMHO thats a better way
to do attribution.

So here is what I personally would like to see:
* All the attributions are kept in the database as we have now.
* We create some interfaces to access this information more easily (but
  I am not sure how to do that. What kinds of queries would people
* We create a Wiki page with all the major contributers, or - in the
  long run - maybe some sort of queriable database.
* Whoever uses our data should put a notice with it "based on
  OpenStreetMap data"

Whether thats attainable is a different questions. After all, there are
some conflicting goals here.

Jochen Topf  jochen at remote.org  http://www.remote.org/jochen/  +49-721-388298

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