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

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Thu Jun 3 12:42:42 BST 2010


Oliver (skobbler) wrote:
> In addition we
> should put a sentence that they can make donation to OpenStreetMap and the
> community forgets about the mistake. Otherwise the OSMF might take further
> legal actions. 

You mean as in

"Dear Mr President, I've got this photo showing you in bed with another 
man, here's my bank account where you can make a donation, in which case 
I will forget about it...

... unless I need more money later in which case I might again remember"?

Honestly, what you're suggesting smacks of blackmail. I do not doubt for 
a second that it will work in some cases but I consider it morally 
inacceptable, *especially* because every single contributor is entitled 
to take legal action, so even if the accused paid up nobody in the world 
can guarantee that he would not get sued, or get bad press.

(I'm not sure in how far this might change with the proposed license 
change; if the license change puts OSMF in the sole position of being 
able to sue then yes, OSMF could say they won't sue in exchange for 
payment but I would still consider this questionable, not least because 
it would mean that if they decline to pay we'd have to sue which I'd 
like to avoid.)

> In cases where a company gains a financial advantage from a breach of
> license I think legal actions would be appropriate and should definitely be
> taken. I think this is important as many companies are already watching what
> happens in case of a severe violation to OSM data. If nothing happens many
> companies might take advantage...

I am very skeptical of legal action. If someone really takes the piss 
then yes, perhaps, but it must never come to OSMF being a fundraising 
machine for lawyers. Legal action can very quickly cost more than 
everything else we do, and I would hate to be in a project whose main 
activity, according to the balance books, is paying lawyers to sue people.

Legal action must be the exception, not the norm, and reserved for 
really big cases. There is so much murky and questionable legal action 
going on around copyright and maps, and it must never come to people 
being fearful of using OSM because they fear the legal consequences of 

Also, if we start threatening to sue people then we also need to set up 
proper advice for users (if you follow these rules then we won't sue 
you), and be prepared to answer questions ("I want to do X. Is that 
allowed?") with something other than "Dunno, ask a lawyer, and we might 
still sue you later".


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

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