[OSM-legal-talk] 23rd Dec board meeting

Peter Miller peter.miller at itoworld.com
Sat Jan 24 19:57:21 GMT 2009

On 24 Jan 2009, at 13:11, Dair Grant wrote:

> Peter Miller wrote:
>> Is there not a large potential conflict of interest between SteveC  
>> in relation
>> to his driving this change within the Foundation and also being a  
>> director of
>> a company that could well benefit from the OSM project not offering  
>> a full set
>> of services? I don't know, but I certainly don't have the  
>> information to feel
>> comfortable with this initiative until we have some more facts  
>> available to
>> us.
> I think this is uncalled for.

To be clear, all I am saying is that Steve has two different roles and  
that there may be different outcomes preferred in these different  
roles, that is my understanding of the phrase 'conflicted', not that  
the person has indeed exploited the situation (or as you suggest below  
is 'evil'!). I can assure you Steve is not that!

I do note that the following definition of the phrase 'conflict of  
interest' does seem to imply that there should indeed be evidence of  
an inappropriate decision for the phrase to be used. If so then I am  
wrong to use it and I apologise for any confusion given.

According to the above definition I should have said that there is  
only the 'appearance of a conflict of interest' in this case. To quote:

"The appearance of a conflict of interest is present if there is a  
potential for the personal interests of an individual to clash with  
fiduciary duties, such as when a client has his or her attorney  
commence an action against a company in which the attorney is the  
majority stockholder."

> There are any number of technical things you need to think through  
> before
> switching from a system that pretty much works to something  
> (anything) else.
> While it's valid to question what those things are, and their  
> significance,
> I don't think you can jump from that to it all being an evil plot  
> hatched in
> CM's volcano lair.

I hope the above clarification is enough to show that I am not at all  
suggesting on 'evil plot', only that Steve has two distinct interests.

> You argue that anyone with a commercial interest in OSM (e.g., me)  
> who's
> listed on the {{PD-user}} page (me again) has a potential conflict of
> interest.

No, you only have one interest, which is that you are a user of the  
data and are advocating your position. You are not also the judge and  
jury who is deciding the case or indeed the whole process.

> You could argue that as a commercial interest who's been pushing  
> very hard
> for the licence issue to be resolved, perhaps you have some ulterior  
> motive
> too...

I don't have a conflict of interest, I have one interest, which is  
that we have a good resolution of this quickly that works for my  
company. I agree I am pushing for it, but again, I am also not  
deciding which way we jump or on the process.

> Nothing useful comes out of that kind of discussion.

> The current progress on the licence is certainly frustrating for  
> those of us
> who are thinking about how our companies can best use and contribute  
> to OSM,
> but I suspect it's been a very frustrating process on the OSMF side  
> as well.
Agreed. I am only suggesting for an improved process which should  
reduce frustration on all sides. I am guessing (only guessing) that  
SteveC has decided to make this decision 'by decree' because he knows  
it is better than repeating a load of futile arguments on legal-talk  
where everyone gets cross. My point it that making the decision by  
decree has its own serious shortcomings and that we should establish a  
better way.

> E.g., we have no idea what the background to "all communications  
> with Jordan
> had broken down" was, or what impact that has had. It would be nice  
> to know
> what happened, but having a public discussion about that while  
> trying to
> resolve whatever the issue was probably wouldn't have been helpful.
Its a tough call and it may be appropriate to keep that discussion  
'behind closed doors' but that is not a reason to shut out the whole  
community out of the whole process.

> I would definitely recommend you stand for the OSMF next year, as I  
> think
> you could make a valuable contribution to the process (e.g., I agree  
> with
> your thinking re the trademark).
> I don't know if you'll find the grass is any greener though.

Agreed, however I would probably be more effective helping from the  
outside in any number of ways. I believe I am better qualified to  
contribute to particular working groups as required than to be on the  
board itself. The concept of working groups seems to be emerging at  
the moment within the foundation which is a very good sign, but the  
process of deciding who is on the working groups currently seems a bit  

> Although the licence project seems to be moving forward very slowly,  
> it is
> at least moving (vs what happened previously, where we had endless
> GPS-vs-BSD debates on the mailing list but no real progress  
> whatsoever).

I have no interest in returning to that, I am just talking about  
getting from where we are now with a pretty good license text (I  
assume) to one where it is adopted with a reasonable degree of  
fairness and and openness which only a limited number of doors falling  
off their hinges!

I am really pleased that finally we are getting to what seems to be an  
end game where significant efforts are being put in to finish it off.  
I really hope we can finish it off with some elegance!



> -dair
> ___________________________________________________
> dair at refnum.com              http://www.refnum.com/
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