[OSM-legal-talk] licensing working group report

Peter Miller peter.miller at itoworld.com
Mon Jan 19 10:33:31 GMT 2009

On 15 Jan 2009, at 19:12, Mikel Maron wrote:

> Hello
> Yesterday we held the first meeting of the Licensing working group.  
> At the last Foundation Board meeting before the holidays, we decided  
> to convene a working group to expedite the final process of moving  
> OSM to the new license. In attendance were Steve Coast and myself  
> from the Board, Grant Slater from the technical team, and Jordan  
> Hatcher, the lawyer who has been working on the ODL.

I had not heard of this working group before. Could you clarify who is  
on it, what is the brief for the group and when it was formed? Has  
Steve's role in this changed or is he still in charge of the drafting  

> The license is in final stages of drafting. The Foundation has  
> solicited advice from the law firm of Wilson Sonsini, to have  
> another set of eyes on the license. Wilson Sonsini and Jordan  
> Hatcher are currently in discussion to finish the final draft.

> Following this first version, a community of users and legal experts  
> around the license will be developed to generate public comment and  
> review, and work on refinements to the license. As the ODL evolves,  
> OSM will be able to take on new revisions without the large task of  
> getting re-licensing permission from our contributors.

To be clear. You saying that the full license text will only be  
available for review by the community 'after' it has been released to  
the full user base for acceptance? If so then it would seem that the  
next we will see of the license will be a copy in our inbox and a  
request to sign it or leave the project and have our data removed from  
the database? If this is the case then it puts a huge responsibility  
on the board to get it right first time. If you do get it right then  
that's great. If not then we are all in a bit of mess are we not?  
Could you say who is 'in the loop' on the license drafting process and  
has seen each of the recent updates? Have any key external users or  
bulk data providers seen a recent draft of the license and given their  
support? What if a major end user (Flickr) or major data provided  
(AND) has a problem with it?

I understand from the above that the license will include the  
provision for an organisation to change the license subsequent to its  
agreement. It seems a very sensible provision but means we will be  
placing considerable trust in that organisation. Will this be the OSMF  
or a different organisation, if so then which one? If it is the  
Foundation then we urgently need to address the deficiencies in the  
articles of association which current give far to much control to one  
person. If it is another organisation then I assume you have  
thoroughly checked it out.

> So what's next? A technical team meeting will be held this week to  
> discuss the technical implementation. Next week we will hold another  
> licensing working group meeting, where we'll produced the final  
> integrated plan of license and technical process, and timeline for  
> moving to the new license. We'll have another update following next  
> week's meeting.
> I'm here to answer any questions.

Various questions have been asked on this list over the past few  
months; I won't repeat them, but I am sure people would welcome some  
answers. If they are not addressed by the new license then it seems  
likely that they will be raised immediately afterwards which will be  
more messy and may result in lower uptake.

Prior to release do update the wiki pages that relate to the new  
license? I have added a new category 'Open Data Licence' to make it  
easier to locate these pages. I suggest that in particular you note on  
the Use Cases page which ones the license will allow and will not  
allow. This will make it easier for end users to confirm that it is  
suitable for their needs.

I wish the Foundation success in this important change.



> Best
> Mikel & the Licensing Working Group
> _______________________________________________
> legal-talk mailing list
> legal-talk at openstreetmap.org
> http://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/legal-talk

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