[OSM-legal-talk] Viral can be nice

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Thu Apr 22 10:37:14 BST 2010

On Thu, 22 Apr 2010 11:37:24 +0300, Albertas Agejevas <alga at pov.lt> wrote:
> It also deters unexpected well-meaning users.  Consider FlightGear,
> the open-source flight simulator.  Wouldn't it be great if they used
> OSM instead of, or along with, VMAP0 for their scenery display?
> Currently the technology is there, but they are reluctant to do that
> because of the licence incompatibility, or more precisely doubts about
> licence compatibility:

Data isn't code. OpenOffice doesn't force you to licence everything you
write under the GPL, and the free versions of Quake can load proprietary
game files without there being a legal problem.

So FlightFear's reluctance doesn't have a sound basis.

> 2. Do the projects that use non-viral BSD, MIT, MPL-like licences any
> worse off than GPL projects?  Apache? Mozilla?  X.org?  Python uses a
> non-viral licence.  It has several forks and reimplementations
> (IronPython, Jython, Stackless, unladen-swallow), which were funded by
> different companies at different times.  There is a commercial package
> by ActiveState, but it's not making the whole community weaker, on the
> contrary.

It's not about the project or the community, it's about the individual

If ActiveState's users aren't free to use the software, the health of "the
community" is a distraction from the lack of freedom of individuals.

> Viral licences have their uses (e.g. forcing wireless router
> manufacturers to release the firmware contents, forcing NeXT to
> release ObjJ, forcing Bruno Haible to contribute CLISP to the GNU
> project), but my feeling in the case of OSM they just cause
> uncertainty and doubt about any serious use of the data, even by
> open-source projects.

If people won't research or ask about the problems and won't accept the
answers there's not a lot that can be done.

In the case of BY-SA, the issues that there are are well known and easily
explained. The big one being that BY-SA don't apply to data or the database
right. ;-)

Flight simulators or startups are not the problem, and will not have a
problem, unless they have been poorly advised elsewhere or they are trying
to get around the licence for some reason that they are not stating.

- Rob.

More information about the legal-talk mailing list