[OSM-legal-talk] PD vs SA: The eternal battle

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Wed Oct 22 10:03:00 BST 2008

On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 2:49 AM, Joseph Gentle <josephg at gmail.com> wrote:

> You say 'everyone else is worse off' if they use a PD map.  It seems
> like the bus company wins - they have more passengers.

Privatising wealth is always a win for those who privatise it but this
isn't really a reason for anyone else to cheer them on.

> The passengers
> win - they can learn about the busses more easily.

They can learn just as easily if the bus company uses an Ordinance
Survey map. And given the logic of "the bus company saves money" being
good, "the Ordinance Survey makes money" makes this scenario even

> The environment
> wins (less cars on the road). And the map wins. It gets more
> visibillity.

The promise that someone will hold you in higher esteem if you abandon
your principles rarely works out.

> Less time and effort goes to proprietry maps. More people
> have a vested interest in making the mapping data accurate.

There's a difference between people coming to expect that you will do
work for them for free and people learning that they can contribute to
the project.

> In time,
> the bus company will probably contribute some data to the map to
> correct mistakes and whatnot. It seems to me like everyone wins.

The bus company's maps' users are not free to use the maps.

Since this is about freedom, not who gets something for nothing, everyone loses.

> Apple was in a similar situation. They chose to use freebsd (a
> PD-style OS). They use it in the underlying layers of Macosx. They are
> one of the most vicious, control-freak companies you'll find these
> days. Even though they don't have to, they contribute heaps of code
> back to freebsd.

They also ship compiled modified versions of the code that end-users
don't have access to . This affects the freedom of users of the
software to use it.

Concentrating on the "source" part of "open source" obscures the core
"free" part of "free software".

It isn't about whether people "give back" to OSM, it's about whether
people are free to use maps.

> Given that apple was never going to open-source all of macosx, what
> would you rather they do?

If we are discussing unicorns, the colour of their manes is immaterial.

> Is freebsd worse off because apple uses their product? No. Its much
> much better off.

FreeBSD's *users* would be better of if they used the GPL. It's the
GPL that got GNU users Apple's Objective-C compiler, and it's the GPL
that got everyone WebKit.

Community projects should not serve as random acts of kindness or
distributed potlatch for corporations and local government. They
should serve the community.

- Rob.

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