[OSM-legal-talk] signup notice

Francis Davey fjmd1a at gmail.com
Mon Jun 1 21:47:17 BST 2009

2009/6/1 Russ Nelson <russ at cloudmade.com>:
> I think we're running into the "programmers confuse legal agreements
> with code" problem.  If the OSMF went into a court of law and tried to
> claim that, because your computer connected once upon a time to OSM,
> that everything your computer ever did thereafter had to be
> copyrighted CC-By-SA, the judge would laugh the OSMF out of court, IF
> he didn't fine the OSMF for contempt of court.  In order for a
> contract to be enforceable it must be a reasonable contract.

Well, I don't think that applies to me - I'm a practising lawyer and
I'm not confusing a legal argument with code.

The point is "connect" is rather a broad concept. The most obvious
interpretation of the contact is not that tools that have ever
connected to OSM are covered but ones that create data while they are
connected. Whether that is the interpretation a court would chose or
what a court would do about it (I'll come on to that) is another
matter, but a golden rule of good contract drafting is not
deliberately to draft something that says something other than it
appears to mean on a straightforward reading. Its hard enough to get
things right, best not to leave things to chance at the drafting

What the contract almost certainly means (and I'm only recently a
reader of this list so I could be wrong) is that tools which make use
of the OSM data are caught (is that right?). If so, best to say it.

Two final remarks: bringing a bad case does not result in proceedings
for contempt of court in my jurisdiction (you might end up paying the
other sides costs on an indemnity basis but that is rather less
scary). Nor is it true in pretty much any common law jurisdiction that
only reasonable contract terms are enforceable (things are different
for contracts of adhesion and/or consumer contracts).

I'm not trying to make trouble, just trying to help by offering my
legal knowledge.

Francis Davey

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