[OSM-legal-talk] OSM content on locked platforms

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Fri Apr 2 23:36:18 BST 2010


    a recent discussion on talk-de has unearthed an interesting question 
with regards to iPhone/Appstore and other locked platforms.

You will have to correct me if I'm wrong about the technical aspects of 
the Apple product range, since I am firmly on the Cory Doctorow side 
when it comes to iSomethings.

But as I understand it, the iPhone is a platform that does not allow you 
to easily exchange software or data between devices. You can send 
someone an email to his iPhone but you cannot send them an application 
to install, and you cannot even send them, say, a new dictionary for the 
word processor software unless that word processor software explicitly 
has a feature that provides for such exchange.

Now let's assume someone publishes, for a price, an application called 
the "London A-Z" for the iPhone, which is basically a map viewer with a 
data component, all data being derived from OSM and stored in the 

Now, CC-BY-SA requires that whoever buys this application should have 
the full right to make derivative works (of the data), pass it (the 
data) on, etc.etc., and indeed it also says:

"You may not distribute, publicly display, publicly
perform, or publicly digitally perform the Work with any technological
measures that control access or use of the Work in a manner inconsistent
with the terms of this License Agreement."

If I understand things correctly, then the whole iPhone/Appstore/Apple 
operating system combo is just that - a technological measure that 
controls access and use of the work, because you cannot retrieve the 
work from the iPhone without "jailbreaking" it, and you cannot install 
it on another iPhone without "jailbreaking" that.

I would be interested in your thoughts on the legal situation here. Is 
distributing an OSM-derived data set on such a closed platform still 
CC-BY-SA conformant?

Could I, if I were selling such an app, just say: "Here's the package on 
my web site for download - of course to install it on the iPhone you 
must go through the Appstore and pay $9.99 but if you jailbreak your 
phone then you can use the free version from my web page. Of course by 
jailbreaking it you violate Apple's license conditions..." - I mean it's 
not the software provider's fault that only DRM'ed software goes on the 
iPhone. Or is it?

This also leads to interesting follow-on questions, namely

(a) what would the ODbL say in a similar case?
(b) is it in our interest - in the interest of "open data" - to allow 
such distribution of our data through closed platforms?


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