[OSM-legal-talk] Q&A with a lawyer

Simon Ward simon at bleah.co.uk
Tue May 12 08:00:43 BST 2009

On Tue, May 12, 2009 at 08:14:49AM +0200, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> What I'm concerned with is mainly: How big is the risk of someone 
> "whitewashing" our data from the contractual part of the ODbL, then 
> introducing it to a large jurisdiction without something like a database 
> directive (the US?), and thereby leaving us with only plain copyright 
> which (correct me if I'm wrong) we choose not to exercise by applying 
> the DbCL?

I’m (still) of the opinion that we shouldn’t just throw copyright to the
wind in this way while some people (OS, for example) believe they can
exercise copyright over elements of geodata, and not just database
right.  They might be right, or wrong.  I hope they’re wrong, but it’s
not very well tested.

> As a commercial user, I am very interested in having the same set of 
> rules binding my competitors in every country.

As a user, commercial or non‐commercial, I would prefer the same set of
rights for both proprietary and free works, and for OSM not just to
effectively waive those rights because we believe we have a database of
simple facts and that simple facts should not be copyrightable (as I
said, others don’t believe it and are willing to fight for their
supposed rights).

>                                          Countries with economies 
> so negligible that they don't subscribe to international IP law are of 
> little interest to me in that regard (I am unlikely to face competition 
> from companies in North Korea et al.), but if some kind of "loophole" 
> would permit rogue US companies to use OSM data free of any restrictions 
> while I, in Europe, am bound by them would be unsatisfactory.

Sticking to a form of share‐alike for the database contents would
tighten the loophole where it is believed there are some rights to the
contents, but would not completely get rid of it.

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a
simple system that works.—John Gall
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