[OSM-legal-talk] Updated geocoding community guideline proposal

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Sun Aug 3 17:55:30 UTC 2014

Admin note: nominally I'm administrator of the legal-talk@ list. In practice
the only international OSM list to ever have been announced as "moderated"
is talk@, and I think locally talk-us@ may be moderated as well. Merely
"administered" is a much more light-touch approach and generally works well
enough. However, Mikel's posting raises an important meta issue which as
administrator I'd like to clarify:

Mikel Maron wrote:
> * How is the composition of the Legal Working Group formed?
> * Is anyone on the LWG able to "sit in judgement"?
> * Does the LWG itself consult with legal counsel when "trying cases"? Are
> there any lawyers on the LWG?
> * How is the "spirit of the license" determined? Is this the consensus
> opinion of the LWG? Voted opinion of the Board? Polled opinion of OSMF
> members?
> * How are the broad range of opinions regarding intention of the ODbL
> balanced within the "spirit of the license"?
> * The OSMF itself has repeated asked lawyers to help us reach a desired
> outcome over the years, the result of which was the ODbL. Why did the OSMF
> have a desired outcome previously, but no longer has one regarding
> Geocoding?
> * Do the OSMF officers in this discussion have a desired outcome regarding
> Geocoding, and does that prejudice their "judgement" when "trying" this
> use
> case?
> * How can we manage conflict of interest in the process of deciding on
> ODbL
> use cases?

There are 12 questions here, and they appear to be principally addressed to
the volunteers who give their time to LWG in particular and the wider OSMF.

Mailing lists are open forums. By definition, list messages (unlike private
mail) are addressed to all the members of the list, not to a small subset of
that. Demanding answers from a small number of people to 12 rather involved
questions is not the purpose of a public mailing list.

As list admin, I am not very comfortable with the notion of using this
public list as a direct communication channel to OSMF rather than a general
forum for discussion of legal/licensing issues. If such a list exists then
it's osmf-talk; I will leave the discussion of that to whoever might be
osmf-talk admin. It is not, however, the purpose of legal-talk, and as admin
I certainly didn't volunteer to run a "talk to OSMF" communication channel
(not least because I'm not even an OSMF member these days ;) ).

With my list admin hat off, but taking the opportunity to make a wider
etiquette point, I would gently remind people that OSM and OSMF are created
and run by volunteers; volunteers' time and motivation are finite resources;
and it is kinder to be proportionate in your demands on these volunteers. Do
question, probe, discuss, but 12 questions at once is a bit Sybil Fawlty:
"Anything else, dear? I mean, would you like the hotel moved a bit to the


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