[OSM-legal-talk] Questions about CTs 1.2.4

Robert Whittaker (OSM) robert.whittaker+osm at gmail.com
Thu Apr 14 09:57:37 BST 2011

On 14 April 2011 09:34, Francis Davey <fjmd1a at gmail.com> wrote:
> Strictly speaking, you can make use of them, but contributors are (i) in
> breach of contract in contributing that material and (ii) may (in some
> circumstances) infringe copyright by authorising OSMF to do acts which are
> infringements of the licence (eg CC...) under which the material was
> available.
> Neither of these may seem like a significant risk.

Nevertheless, I don't think it's really acceptable for OSMF to set up
a contract and then ask all the volunteer contributors to knowingly
breach it.

> So neither approach is "right". There's a fundamental difficulty here,
> namely that incoming data may be subject to a variety of rights licensed
> under a variety of licences. Somehow folding all that data with its
> disparate rights into a single product licensed under a single licence is
> not an easy task.

Indeed. I suggested an alternative a while ago, which would have
removed the burden of this folding and license interpretations from
contributors. Essentially you would require the grant in clause 2 for
any material that the contributor owned, and then allow other
license-encumbered material to be submitted only if it was available
under a license on a OSMF approved list. Contributors would also be
required to mark in some specified manner (eg the source tag, or by
using separate accounts, or some new mechanism) contributions that
were so encumbered. OSMF would then maintain a list of licenses it
deems acceptable at the present time, taking into account the current
licence and the need for flexibility in the future.

If/when we wanted to change the license, individual contributors
wouldn't have the option to demand the removal their own data (since
they'd agreed to the grant on the copyright they owned) and it would
then just be a matter of re-assessing the licences from the "approved
list" to see if any were not now compatible. Then mandatory source
marking would allow the easy removal of any now-unacceptable data, and
also the assessment of what would be lost upon a proposed license

This method seems a much more satisfactory way of doing things to me
-- assuming it could work legally (IANAL). We would still have the
flexibility to re-license if we needed to without individual mappers
being able to hold their data hostage, and we have much clearer rules
for contributors to follow about what sources it is acceptable to use.
It would not be necessary for contributors to decipher some
complicated legalase in the CTs, the OSM Licence, and source license
to work out if they're compatible, or have to rely on a non-binding
OSM FAQ, or risk being in technical breach of contract with OSMF.

Has this option been considered by OSMF and/or LWG?


Robert Whittaker

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