[OSM-legal-talk] The Copyright of Split Ways

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Mon Jan 30 11:13:17 GMT 2012

Frederik Ramm wrote:
> There's no reason for such vodoo logic. A way split or merge can 
> be determined from looking at a changeset. A changeset in which 
> a chain of nodes is removed from one way and added to another, 
> new way denotes a split.

I don't think that's necessarily true.

If we have:

(state before changeset)
    way i=[ABCDEFGHIJK], { highway=unclassified; name=Frog Street }
(state after changeset)
    way j=[ABCDEF], { highway=unclassified; name=Frog Street }
    way k=[FGHIJK], { highway=unclassified; name=Mog Walk }

we cannot say with certainty that there is a split. All we know are that two
new ways have been created using the nodes that were in a previous, now
deleted way. The name "Frog Street" might be carried over from way i, but
then again it might have been entered afresh by the changeset creator.
There's no way to tell.

_If_ it was i->i+j, rather than i->j+k, then that tilts the balance in
favour of a split. But even then it's not certain. In the absence of editor
and API support, there's no way to tell for sure.

Fortunately, in most cases, the status of the nodes should be enough. If
ABCDEFGHIJK were created by a decliner, then that'll prevent the way being
preserved anyway. Inevitably some "Frog Street" tags will make their way
through the process that shouldn't, and some that should be preserved will
be lost. I don't see that as a huge deal; it evens out in the round.

> There are simply not so many cases of that 
> to warrant all the brouhaha that is made.

Absolutely. The lack of editor/API support for the past n years means that
surgical precision just isn't possible. I'm sure we'll look with kindness on
anyone who, on 2nd April, says "hey, can you remove that Frog Street tag
please, that was mine". Though really if you're getting worked up about the
copyright of a streetname you should find something enjoyable to drink,
smoke or ride instead.


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