[OSM-legal-talk] Rights granted to OSMF (Section 2 of the CT)

Francis Davey fjmd1a at gmail.com
Sun Apr 17 12:14:20 BST 2011

On 17 April 2011 11:12, Simon Poole <simon at poole.ch> wrote:
> You do realize that you already have an agreement with the OSMF?
> Undoubtably a very fuzzy one, where a lot of the terms might be implicit.
> You are simply replacing that fuzzy contract with a,  not perfect, but at
> least with most terms spelt out, new agreement.


Lets be quiet clear about this. Anyone who contributes to OSMF is (on
any analysis) permitting OSMF to use their contribution. In some
jurisdictions for OSMF to use the contribution would (at least
sometimes) be an infringement of one or more intellectual property
rights belonging to the contributor. That means that there would be,
without any contributor terms, an implied licence grant to OSMF.

But what exactly is OSMF allowed to do with the contribution and for
how long? As Simon says, without spelling it out both OSMF and the
contributor will be in doubt about it. That's messy and unnecessary.
So spelling out the licence is good practice.

Spelling out the licence also allows anyone doing any kind of due
diligence to check whether its OK for them to use OSMF's data (after
all, if OSMF can't tell what their rights are, a downstream user will
be in more doubt).

Now, concerning clause 2 specifically - per the title of the thread -
what is there to object to? In practice a world-wide licence is
essential for the web. If the licence were revocable or time limited
OSMF would have to provide for an Orwellian removal of data in any
downstream product (as well as from the map itself, which of course is
much easier) and so on. The licence terms are pretty normal for this
kind of activity and not, as far as I can see, unduly onerous. If you
want OSMF to make use of your data you need some kind of grant like

It is also nonsense to suggest that it is anything like commercial
licence agreements. It would be very unusual for commercial publishers
to accept a licence of that kind (not unheard of, but unusual,
particularly in the music industry).

Now the contributor terms say more than simply clause 2. They don't
just ask for a licence, they ask for what looks like warranty
(although this is contradicted by clause 6) and for a limitation of
liability on OSMF's behalf. I can see arguments for an against such a

Similarly OSMF offers various things in return: attribution and some
limitation on the kind of licence it will use for the data.

You, or anyone else, might think that these extra terms make the
overall deal a bad one. You might want (for example) OSMF to be more
restricted in what it can do with a contribution.

But that is a different argument from arguing with clause 2.

Francis Davey

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