[OSM-legal-talk] licence - what happens next?

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Sat Sep 6 12:02:17 BST 2008


Peter Miller wrote:
> At the SOTM08 conference I understand that there was going to be a 
> session on the licence but that it was called off as the expert lawyer 
> had other business to attend to (50,000 registered users) I am not aware 
> of any official announcement of progress since then.

The official status as per SOTM08 was that the license draft was 
undergoing review by "a second set of legal eyes" (or similar wording). 
I have not heard about any results of that review.

And I am not surprised either: Changing the license is, while necessary, 
a task that will buy you no love with anyone. You have the choice of 
either finding some backdoor-ish legal way to adopt the new license 
without asking everyone (which would create a small outcry and put you 
in an awkward position) or you do the full job and write to every member 
asking to re-license their data, but there will be 1% who won't 
relicense plus another 29% who just don't receive the mail, don't 
understand it, or have died in the mean time, and you will have to 
remove that data, creating, again, an outcry by those who now see holes 
in the map. (And you have heard that some argue that the viral concept 
might spread even to neighbouring objects, so EITHER you would be forced 
to publicly say "no, we don't see that" which will provoke an outcry by 
hardcore copylefters, OR you would basically lose the whole of London if 
only a handful of people having contributed to parts of London in the 
past cannot be reached for or disagree with the license change!)

Whichever way you turn it, nobody apart from a tiny tiny tiny minority 
that says "good that this is being taken care of, otherwise we'd have 
hit a wall soon", is going to like you for doing the work, and 99% of 
people are going to say "why couldn't they just have let this alone".

 > With reference to giving the OSMF board a free hand to change the
 > licence in future as they see fit, I don’t think one has to look too far
 > to see the dangers.

We could at least lighten our load by adding to the current registration 
process (where you agree that all your data is to be licensed cc-by-sa) 
a statement that says: "There is a license change planned, see <here> 
and <there>, and I hereby agree that for this license change only, I 
will receive an e-mail informing me of the new license once it is 
finished and if I do not respond to that e-mail within two months then 
my data will be licensed under the new license", or whatever.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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