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

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Wed Aug 24 17:02:37 BST 2011

Richard Weait wrote:
> 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.

Ok. I now see where you're coming from, but I think you're mistaken.

I am, at present, entitled to re-extract my own data from OSM and distribute
it under any terms I like. (When I say "my own data" I mean "the data which
is entirely my own contributions", i.e. not derivative of any other source.
For example, any version-1 elements in one of my changesets, where I was not
using an external source.)

The reason I can do this is because CC-BY-SA (a) does not cover database
rights, and (b) does not have a contractual element. Copyright is the only
right involved, and I retain that in my own data. OSMF has not changed the
data I have contributed (other than renumbering ids, which is clearly
insubstantial). Therefore neither OSMF, nor anyone else, gains any copyright
over the data. I am still at liberty to do what I want with it. (I will not
be able to do this under ODbL+CT, but that's immaterial to this discussion.)

So if I disclaim all rights in this contribution, OSMF (or anyone else)
_can_ distribute it under ODbL, or CC-BY-SA, or any licence they like.

The second aspect of the question is what this means for things that are not
"my own data". That is, my contributions which build on the work of others
(e.g. v2+ of objects).

There is no reason to treat this differently from our general approach with
the ODbL transition. If I have moved a node (to v3, say, where v1 and v2
were contributed by people who have assented to the CT), and if I disclaim
all rights in my contribution, then the logic works as above.

The third aspect is objects traced from, say, Bing or OS OpenData, which
(especially in the latter case) have some associated rights.

What we call (for convenience) "PD declarations" are actually "I claim no
rights in this data" - not "there are no rights in this data". I don't think
(for example) that TimSC is claiming that his OS-derived edits are free of
rights; clearly they aren't.

However, LWG has already declared that "if data is compatible with *current*
license terms, then there is no problem contributing it". This was the issue
on which Robert Whittaker's acceptance hung (and has subsequently been
endorsed by OSMF Board). With this, and as envisaged in CT 1b, OSMF has
taken on the responsibility (in the event of a future licence change) of
identifying contributions that are no longer compatible, and deleting them.

In other words, if the contribution is compatible with ODbL, as OS- and
Bing-derived submissions are, there are no grounds to refuse it from the
ODbL database. 

Of course, my personal viewpoint is roughly akin to Simon's in terms of
lakes and jumping, or perhaps the old slogan of the Sirius Cybernetics
Corporation involving pigs, heads, and sticking. But the aim is not to get
Tim and Florian and the like to be bit-part players in an episode of You've
Been Framed.

Rather, we are trying to ensure that the best possible database is carried
over into the ODbL-licensed OSM. We do not have to slavishly agree with
those whose wishes are against the "vast majority", but if they are willing
to move a little way towards us (as I think Tim eventually did), I don't
want to erect barriers that aren't there. I will argue for years in favour
of ODbL, and have gradually been persuaded of the need of the CTs, but I'm
slowly (and very belatedly) learning to leave my pride at the door where
licences are concerned, and I hope others can too.


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