[OSM-legal-talk] Refusing CT but declaring contributions as PD

Simon Poole simon at poole.ch
Wed Aug 24 15:03:16 BST 2011

I think I've said this before, but any way you look at it, there is a big
difference between TimSC and the US Census Bureau. I just can't
see how we could use a mappers data without some kind of assurance
that the mapper actually has the rights necessary to make their
contributions PD or a similar equivalent. Since such an agreement
is unlikely to be much simpler than the CTs, it just doesn't make sense
to go and produce yet another agreement for these special cases.

In the case of the US Census Bureau there is no question about the status
of their data (well at least in the US of A :-)).

So much said, the wording in the LWG minutes is really not the clearest.


Am 24.08.2011 15:52, schrieb Richard Fairhurst:
> There's a curious statement in the LWG minutes for 2nd August
> (https://docs.google.com/View?id=dd9g3qjp_1252tt382df).
>> Folks who have declined the new contributor terms but said their
>> contributions are public domain.
>> There has been a suggestion that such contributions should be
>> maintained in the current OSM database even after a switch to
>> ODbL.
>> A very small number of contributors have declined the new
>> contributor terms and asserted that the their contributions are in
>> the public domain.  This does not mean that the collective data in
>> the OSM database is public domain. Their 'PD' position contradicts
>> the explicit decline. Therefore the LWG takes the position that
>> their contributions cannot be published under ODbL without
>> acceptance of the contribut[or terms].
> (I think the two contributors affected by this are Tim Sheerman-Chase and
> Florian Lohoff, but there may be others.)
> I'm a little puzzled by this. "Asserting that one's contributions are in
> the public domain" is saying, in the words of the disclaimer used on
> Wikipedia and on the OSM wiki, "I grant anyone the right to use my
> contributions for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such
> conditions are required by law".
> Therefore I don't see any reason why the data cannot be included in OSM.
> The contributor has given a grant of all rights - not just copyright, but
> any database right or indeed other right that might exist. There is no
> difference between (say) TimSC's PD data and the TIGER PD data, but we're
> not requiring the US Census Bureau to sign the terms.[1]
> The minute says "Their 'PD' position contradicts the explicit decline",
> which seems to me to be true legally but not "politically". There are
> people who do not wish to enter into a formal agreement with OSMF, and
> though I think they're mistaken, they doubtless have their own reasons.
> What am I missing? What exactly is meant by "the collective data in the
> OSM database"?
> cheers
> Richard
> [1] I am diplomatically ignoring the fact that there is no proof that US
> Federal data is public domain _outside_ the States ;)
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