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

Phil Monger philm94 at gmail.com
Thu Jun 3 01:25:50 BST 2010

Well, Frederik, here is a challenge:

-Work out a 10 mile cycle trip or walk around your town / city, taking
advantage of sights you want to see, streets you know are good for it, ect.
Cycle it once or twice, getting distracted and taking twice as long as
needed to take photographs on the way round.

- Write a concise, *accurate* and thorough description of the route,
directions and distances.

- Do not refer to a map for part 2.

As soon as you use OSM for any of what's in point 2 then your work is
dependent on OSM, and therefore derivative, for all the same reasons we
can't check the spelling of a street on Google maps, they can't lift street
names, turns and distances from OSM. Since they don't credit anyone else for
this data verification they must have checked it all against OSM.

This is where the headache sets in, frankly. Some sections, paragraphs and
sentences are derivative, and others (advice on cycle hire) is clearly not.
Where do you break it down? "lower two thirds of this page CC-BY-SA"? The
only acceptable solution is to look at the piece of work as a whole and ask

"Is this piece of work, in whole, dependent on the data?"

To which I firmly believe it is. Collective works is / was never designed to
cover a single book, by one Author and with a singular intent. Every
*single* book I can find in my house lists copyright as "this work" not
"these works" - except a cartography book, which states "where these
works.." - which leads strong credence to the idea that a book like this is
no collective work

Now its not just about what you and I think, or what any court would uphold;
it's about intent. OSM uses the SA flavour of the license because they do
not want it to be used to prop up proprietary, copyrighted works. Surely?

This needs to get nailed down before the next one pops up and then says
"oopsie! won't do it again!" and so on. Looking around on forums and such,
its not an isolated incident. If the "we outsourced this, it's not our
fault" line is going to wash then it needs to move down the chain and we
need to look at what companies are ripping of cartography and hamming up the

Where, indeed, is New Holland's ported license statement from their
outsourced guy? I would be fascinated to know what they signed. Really.

I'm not suggesting harsh punitive action, but this matter should not be
taken lightly. At the very least, given the flagrant breach, they should run
an insert with each copy explaining to users they can copy these maps (and
.. perhaps .. route description) and redistribute if they feel the need?

It is not *just* a few images used to show where the route is, there are
many many full page maps, and the mapping is a *major feature* of the entire

I want OSM to be used in this way, but properly - and with according
advantages given to end users. Companies *need to know* they
cannot assert copyright over the mapping they take in this way.

On 3 June 2010 00:42, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:

> Hi,
> 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.
> Bye
> Frederik
> --
> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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