[OSM-legal-talk] Potential huge License violation - anyone know anything about this?

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Thu Jun 3 00:42:29 BST 2010


Phil Monger wrote:
> This is entirely derivative. The maps and route descriptions operate 
> together as *one piece of work* - indeed descriptions of the ways, place 
> names, distances, directions (ect) used in *the text* are taken from 
> *the mapping*. The text couldn't / wouldn't be there without the 
> mapping, leaving the entire thing as one piece of work, regardless of 
> the fact the maps are images, and the words are words.

Mh. Maybe. I am not convinced. If someone took an OSM map and said: Oh, 
this looks like a nice bike tour, let me write this up in words - yes, 
that would be derivative. But if someone actually does the trip and then 
writes up where he's been...

For example, in an OSM context, I consider it perfectly legal to use a 
proprietary map for the planning of a mapping party (i.e. for making the 
"cake" and deciding where to send people). Once they actually go there, 
cycle down the road, and note down the street sign, it doesn't matter 
what gave them the idea to go there - we are allowed to use the data 
that has been recorded.

I'd grant the same rights to the cycle book writer *provided* that he 
has actually been there. I would look for hints in his description which 
are not on the map (e.g. "from here you have a nice view of this and 
that in the distance" or "watch out for the potholes here" or so). If 
there are indeed none, and the whole text could have been done by 
someone who just looked at the OSM map and never was there in the first 
place, then yes, that would be derived - but in that case, abusing OSM 
data is perhaps the smallest problem with the book ;-)

> You wouldn't take 12 songs under CC-By-SA, wrap them together in an 
> album, add cover art, add liner notes, change a couple of words in the 
> songs, and then be able to claim the entire CD is your copyright.

No, but nobody says that. What you say is "take 12 songs under CC-BY-SA, 
wrap them together in an album, add cover art and liner notes, and you 
have to release cover art and liner notes under CC-BY-SA", whereas I say 
that you *only* have to release the songs.

> I don't think New Holland posting a message on a forum saying "Oh, gosh, 
> is that wrong? We won't do it again.." is a good enough answer. I can 
> cite examples of books and magasines getting into a LOT of mess for 
> incorrectly attributing stock images, so how should an entire book, 
> written around the premise that the maps are "free" be exempt from this 
> license?

In my eyes they are not exempt. But mistakes happen and I think their 
reaction is ok. This is often overlooked but I think that by printing 
this book and making it available *even* in the form it currently has, 
they are already *improving* the standing of OSM rather than hurting the 
project. So yes, they're technically in violation of the license but I 
recommend cutting them some slack and acknowledging that never before 
has anyone in the UK made such a convincing public statement of OSM
being good quality.

> Surely .. SURELY the whole point of a CC-BY-SA license in the first 
> place is to *stop* someone taking it and using it in 
> a proprietary media, and instead encouraging people to "give something 
> back" by making their re-use re-useable? Or am I just tilting at windmills?

I think that their re-use must be re-useable, i.e. their maps (which 
they seem to have slightly improved re. the labelling) must be free for 
others to copy. I think they have acknowledged that, and I don't think 
we should aim to make trouble for them just because "others have got 
into trouble for much less". (I'm somewhat uneasy about fighting fire 
with fire - just because the big greedy bastards sue everyone about the 
tiniest violations, doesn't mean we have to as well.)

And I don't agree with you about the rest of the book; I still think it 
is not a derived work. But I don't have it in front of me so if on 
closer inspection it really looks like they haven't even bothered to 
cycle their roads then that's a problem.

I know I'm perhaps too pragmatic here but the question I ask is: Would 
it have been better (for OSM) if the book hadn't been printed? And my 
answer is no. Of course others would say yes. And of course it would 
have been best if the book had been printed with proper attribution and 
license, which the next edition will no doubt be.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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