[OSM-legal-talk] viral attribution and ODbL

TimSC mapping at sheerman-chase.org.uk
Tue Apr 20 09:10:17 BST 2010

Frederik Ramm wrote:
> TimSC wrote:
> >/ What is the point in paragraph 4.3, if it can be easily side stepped? 
> /
> We have a well working culture of attribution in science, where you 
> usually quote the source you took something from, but not the source 
> behind the source behind the source.
Yes, this works well in science and is enforced through professional 
standards (not legal standards). This prevents the attribution chain 
exploding. For example, Newton (or Leibniz) is not cited every time 
calculus is used!

> >/ And would the large data set import rights holders be happy if they 
> />/ found out? 
> /
> In the light of this, yes, it can be said that the attribution 
> requirement for produced works should be dropped altogether; I think it 
> has remained in the license as a symbol. Symbols can be powerful even if 
> legally meaningless. "Look, we want you to attribute us, but we freely 
> chose not to burden you with tons of license code in order to force you to."
I oppose this principle of putting in symbols or totems in the license, 
particularly in this case when it is misleading to the legal meaning. 
The license, under our interpretation, allows public domain produced 
works. Paragraph 4.3 hints that the opposite is true. This is confusing 
and doesn't promote legal certainty. I suggest a better place for 
requesting an optional "courtesy" attribution would be an a license 
preamble. I also note that, with this interpretation, the human readable 
summary is also wrong. "For any use or redistribution of the database, 
or works produced from it, you must make clear to others the license of 
the database and keep intact any notices on the original database." This 
is not true down the chain?! A case of wishful thinking I expect.

I am beginning to conclude the ODbL is a bloated, confusing mistake. We 
would be better serviced in our project goals by a simpler license i.e. 
a public domain-like license. In case public domain is impossible use to 
large GIS imports, a local database should be hosted separately under 
their particular license. I admit, integrating them together for large 
scale maps would be technically problematic. I think technical problems 
are preferable to legal problems which are almost inevitable with any 
share-alike license.



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