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

Richard Weait richard at weait.com
Wed Aug 24 15:35:15 BST 2011

On Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 9:52 AM, Richard Fairhurst <richard at systemed.net> wrote:
> 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.

When considering usernames that have 1) made a PD assertion and 2)
explicitly declined CT/ODbL, there is a conflict in their expressed
intent.  The explicit accept / decline mechanism of the CT/ODbL is the
mechanism provided and used by the vast majority of the OSM community.

To accept their ad-hoc PD declaration may require a substantial
investment of resources to 1) determine if their jurisdiction permits
such a PD declaration, 2) decide if that PD declaration is likely to
over-ride their explicit decline via the community-accepted mechanism.

> What am I missing? What exactly is meant by "the collective data in the
> OSM database"?

OSMF have permission to publish data as CC-By-SA, and in future from
most contributors as ODbL.  OSMF have no permission to publish data as
PD at this time.  TIGER PD data came from PD TIGER data sources.  If
the usernames in question have a PD source for the data that they
assert is PD, we might use that as a source for OSM.  If that data is
only in OSM, it isn't PD; it is CC-By-SA.  It can be promoted to ODbL
by way of accepting CT/ODbL.

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