[OSM-legal-talk] sharealike trigger

John Bazik me at johnbazik.com
Mon Jul 15 06:06:09 UTC 2013

I have read a lot about the ODBL, including many threads on this list.
I remain uncertain about what uses of osm data are allowed and what
are not.

The most subjective clause appears to be the one that differentiates
between a collective work and a derivative work.  The tipping point is
referred to as the "share-alike trigger."

The Fairhurst Doctrine suggests that a database that merely references
primary keys of OSM data could be considered a collective work, and
would not trigger the share-alike requirements of the ODBL.  The example
given is a site which attaches restaurant reviews to restaurants whose
coordinates exist in OSM.

I'd like to suggest three scenarios for your consideration, in order to
hone in more clearly on what is or is not allowed under the ODBL.

1) a site provides routes, determined subjectively, which are defined
   in a separate database as lists of OSM primary keys.

2) a site provides factual data, contributed by site members, of
   roadways which are are stored as lists of OSM primary keys.

3) a site stores geographic bounding boxes for (1) or (2) to
   speed database lookups.

Both (1) and (2) appear to me to fall under the Fairhurst Doctrine, in
that they are separate databases that reference only OSM primary keys.
The difference is that (1) contains purely subjective information, and
(2) contains what may be "facts on the ground," and therefore more
interesting to OSM.

The third case is clearly derivative, in that the bounding boxes are
derived from OSM data and stored separately, but the use here appears
to me to be the least offensive, and the least useful as a derivative
work to be shared.

I understand that the ODBL has been accepted as-is by the OSM community,
and that there is no practical way to change it now.  There are, I think,
commercial uses of the data that I suspect would be acceptable to the
OSM community but that would be subject to interpretation and so are
legally uncertain.

A strictly literal enforcement of the ODBL would make many commercial
and non-commercial uses impossible, since referencing primary keys can
be considered derivative and only independently obtained geo data can
be considered non-derivative.  The Fairhurst Doctrine relaxes that
constraint, but does not remove ambiguity.  So, for those who would
like to join with OSM, but keep some data private, how do we interpret
the ODBL?


More information about the legal-talk mailing list