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

Joseph Gentle josephg at gmail.com
Thu Sep 4 05:51:39 BST 2008

On Thu, Sep 4, 2008 at 5:29 AM, spaetz <osm at sspaeth.de> wrote:

> On Wed, Sep 03, 2008 at 11:51:36AM -0700, Sunburned Surveyor wrote:
> > 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,
> > correct?
> A bit more tricky, but I am not a lawer. 1) It's unclear how to attribute
> data. Theoretically every contributor to OSM data can request that he is to
> be attributed. I can just see the credits screen scrolling past before you
> can get to see any map.
> For this exact reason OSM can not even take any other data that is
> published under the same license as OSM. We just cannot guarantee proper
> attribution. Which is different from public domain and is different from the
> GPL. and sucks majorly.
> Similar as in software the question remains unclear of what a derived and
> what a combined work constitutes. If I work at some secret agency and print
> the locations of the secret nuclear facilities on an OSM map, I can't
> prevent the Mossad from publishing the thing after I've given it to them
> over the weekend. The combined work is CC_BY_SA now.
> Or let me print a book with hiking routes and put lots of OSM maps in
> there. I want to see the lawyer that guarantees you that you won't be sued
> as not the whole book is being given away under a CC-BY-SA license.

He won't.

Part of the problem is that the data is currently owned by the contributors.
The problem with this is that, even if most of the OSM people are nice and
reasonable, nobody can guarantee that one guy with a vendetta against your
project won't try to sue you. There's a bunch of ways even pretty reasonable
uses of OSM could leave you legally liable:
- You don't acknowledge _everyone_
- You don't share-alike the whole webpage your map is embedded in, or the
book in which the map exists.

I'm not sure if they would win such a lawsuit (nobody does!!) But even the
open possibility means heaps and heaps of potential OSM users / contributors
shy away from our lovely maps simply for legal reasons.

To be perfectly honest, thats totally crap.


> Is showing additional data on an overlay that can be turned off creating a
> derivative? Is printing it on a OSM paper map a derivative? Not impossible
> to answer but no definitive. People will always tell you, ask your lawyer or
> wait for the judge to decide :-).
> > 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
> > correct?
> commerical use is fine.
> but theoretically you need to attribute the whole chain of users in
> CC-BY-SA. Which can get pretty unwieldy if you want to print a map and you
> have to credit 500 agencies and 50000 mappers and everyone else who ever
> touched the thin.
> Note that these views and opiniions are entirely my own and private ones
> and not OSM view points. And I am not a lawyer either :-).
> spaetz
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