[OSM-legal-talk] Attribution

Simon Poole simon at poole.ch
Tue Apr 29 23:10:26 UTC 2014

Am 29.04.2014 18:56, schrieb Luis Villa:
> Without commenting on/endorsing Alex's position, suffice to say that the
> vast majority of lawyers I've talked with about the license, including
> many with long experience in open software licenses, find the license
> difficult to interpret. This is not entirely ODBL's fault - for example,
> underlying concepts, like "substantial", are essentially undefined in
> the caselaw, making it difficult to interpret what those clauses mean.
> (Compare with some equivalent clauses about "derivative works" in
> copyright licenses, which can rely on 100 years of caselaw as
> background.) But it is a reality that slows, or in some cases stops,
> adoption of/contribution to OSM.

Luis, first: thanks for the feedback.

I think it is quite clear that the ODbL isn't and likely never will be,
backed up by anything near as much case law as we have in conventional
copyright. But there was not really a choice, both on the one hand in
trying to level the playing ground between different handling of IPR wrt
databases and and on the other hand retaining the basic concept of share
alike. The subject matter is complicated and it is difficult to see how
it could have been done much simpler.

To make it clear: there would likely be no, at least no thriving, OSM
project now without SA being retained. Not for legal reasons, but simply
because the community would have exploded in SA vs. non-SA fights and
burnt out. It was bad enough as is, and one way of looking at the ODbL
is simply as the compromise that was necessary to keep OSM alive.
Compromises tend to leave everybody being a bit unhappy, so moaning is
to be expected.

Further versions of the ODbL with improvements are possible and maybe
one day a licence change if there is a clear preference in the community
for that.

> I am responding in small parts in the wiki[1], and in larger part in an
> upcoming email. I would not take lack of response on a single mailing
> list as a useful indicator of whether or not there are real issues or
> concerns, especially since most lawyers who would be aware of problems
> would be extremely reluctant to comment publicly on something that might
> impact their clients.

Most of the audience here are simply contributors that are somewhat
interested in legal and licence matters. I suspect some simply forgot to
un-subscribe after the licence change :-).  As a consequence I don't
think we are primarily looking for professional feedback on the
guidelines here, naturally it is very welcome and helpful when provided.

Airing the guidelines here is in any case just the foreplay before they
get ripped apart by a bigger audience.


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