[OSM-legal-talk] License Working Group 2013

Robert Whittaker (OSM lists) robert.whittaker+osm at gmail.com
Mon Jan 21 10:48:20 GMT 2013

On 18 January 2013 14:37, Michael Collinson <mike at ayeltd.biz> wrote:
> The LWG will hold its first post-license change meeting provisionally
> Tuesday 22nd January at 18:00 GMT/UTC.
> I would like to draw your attention to the following:
> We'll be discussing our future role and any input on that, preferably to
> this list, is most welcome.  We've started putting together a remit document
> here:
> https://docs.google.com/document/d/1D3KwSM_BO7KkcbVADQVVn7eFwkD-RNauMwidhhlVPsI/pub

There are a couple of things I'd like to see added to that document:

1/ While the licence change was ongoing, various issues were raised
about the contributor terms not being entirely clear (or even being
contradictory). I seem to recall someone saying the CTs would be
reviewed once the license change was complete, with a view to
clarifying what they were intended to say. I'm therefore surprised
that this isn't already included in the plan.

2/ One thing that I feel quite strongly should be part of LWG's remit
is to provide guidance to mappers on which licences are compatible
with the ODbL and CTs, and hence whether or not they are able to use
particular data sources to help with OSM mapping. IMO, these sort of
legal questions should not be left to individual mappers. I can
understand that OSMF (and hence its working groups) may be reluctant
to make definitive legal statements about compatibility, but any
advice does not have to be definitive from a legal point of view. It
could just be of the form of putting licenses / data sources in to one
of three groups:

(A) "We believe that the license / source is fine for use in OSM, and
that the risks of any incompatibilities are sufficiently small to
allow inclusion."
(B) "The license may well be ok, but we are not completely sure. Our
view is that mappers wanting to use the source should ask for
clarification from the data provider before using it."
(C) "We are pretty sure that the license is not compatible. Mappers
should not make use of such sources unless they obtain explicit
permission from the data provider."

Better still, I would like to see LWG should maintain a web page with
lists of licences / sources that they feel fall under each of these
groups, as a handy reference for mappers. LWG could also provide some
sort of minimal boiler-plate agreement for data providers to sign for
cases (B) and (C) that would then allow mappers to use the data in

Best wishes,


Robert Whittaker

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