[OSM-legal-talk] Public Domain versus CC Attribution Share Alike License

Sunburned Surveyor sunburned.surveyor at gmail.com
Wed Sep 3 19:51:36 BST 2008

I am a former National Map Corps volunteer that has now started to
work on OSM. After I posted some ideas on improving the quality of OSM
data collection someone suggested that it might be best to allow
former National Map Corps members to keep their mapping efforts
separate. In this way their data would remain in the public domain and
wouldn't fall under the CC Attribution Share Alike License.

The "public domain versus Creative Commons" debate sounds similar to
the GPL versus LGPL debate that goes on in the open source software
development world. The licensing of geodata is an area of great
interest to me, and something I would like to learn more about,
especially as it applies to OSM.

So here is my first question:

What can't you do with OSM data under the Creative Commons license
that you couldn't do with data in the Public Domain? To me it seems
like the only two (2) major differences are sharing your improvements
to the data and attributing the work of OSM. That's basically it,

It's not like the current Creative Commons license for OSM forbids
commercial use. So the only organizations that would benefit from
mapping data in the public domain would be organizations that can't
share data improvements because of security or competition concerns,
or those that don't want to attribute OSM as a source. Is that

Thanks for helping me understand.

The Sunburned Surveyor

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