[OSM-legal-talk] [HOT] Imagery license clarification needed

Stephan Knauss osm at stephans-server.de
Thu Aug 29 07:27:38 UTC 2013

Hello Kate,

On 29.08.2013 02:24, Kate Chapman wrote:
>> For OSM to be on the safe side: Would it be possible to document the
>> permissions you have for tracing in a clearly understandable way in the
>> wiki? The current license text leaves a bit of uncertainty what a derived
>> imagery product is.
> I can document in the wiki my understanding of it. The legal
> interpretation of the US government by their own lawyers that the
> initial use of the derived vectors need to be for humanitarian use,
> after that it is fine to remain under the ODbL license in OSM. The
> reason for this is the US Government-wide license for commercial
> satellite imagery is not supposed to cut into potential commercial
> sales of that imagery. So it would not be possible to release that
> imagery for what would be initially a commercial use.
>> So why not simply add a clause saying "Imagery is used by the members of the
>> HOT for providing humanitarian aid as expressed in our policy. Derived data
>> will be stored in the Openstretmap database in accordance with the
>> contributor terms and is available under the ODbL also after end of the
>> humanitarian project".
> The NextView license is the US Government-wide license utilized for
> commercial satellite imagery. It is not going to be possible to add a
> clause to it.

I appreciate your work for HOT and like the idea that OSM data is used 
to really improve the situation of people.

However, reading this it sounds to me we (as OSM) fully rely on the 
legal interpretation of USG lawyers of what use of derived vectors is 

What happens if a year after providing the imagery they realize that 
there are companies selling processed data based on OSM and this data is 
based on imagery released for HOT. What happens if they suddenly decide 
that this use is not covered as it's neither humanitarian nor 
Would we have to revert large scale of date and all additions built on 
top of it?

I'm much in favor of having the data donor fully understand of what are 
the consequences of their donation. So they can agree to that and not 
feel tricked into something later. And the OSM community can build their 
improvements on a solid foundation.

So if it's not possible to add anything to the NextView license: Can we 
have a letter from them confirming they fully understand what will 
happen with the data in OSM and they still consider it being OK and 
covered by their license? Should be not problem at all if they 
understood it in the beginning...

If they have issues about handing out a letter confirming commercial use 
of OSM data derived from their imagery being fine then we can't accept 
their imagery either.

I understand that you probably interpret the license in favor for HOT, 
but if this is tainting the data in OSM we have to find a different 
solution for HOT - wost case keeping this data separate.

To make it fully clear: I'm not talking about the imagery. I'm talking 
about the vector data derived from the imagery. It is absolutely fine if 
the imagery is only available to members of the HOT  and they use it 
only for the humanitarian case for which they had been provided, after 
completion of the job the imagery can be removed again.
But the vector data has to be available for OSM under the regulations of 
our contributor terms. Meaning available as ODbL or any other license we 
might switch to in the future.


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