[OSM-legal-talk] Contents Licence for OSM Data

Robert Whittaker (OSM lists) robert.whittaker+osm at gmail.com
Wed Oct 29 09:05:38 UTC 2014

The ODbL that we now use for OSM data technically only applies to the
database, and not to individual contents contained within it. For
that, the ODbL says you need a separate licence [1]. I was under the
impression that for OSM's data this licence was the ODC's Database
Contents Licence (DbCL) [2].

It therefore surprised me when I read the White Paper at [3], which
said that uncertainty over the content licence was a problem for
downstream users.

When I went to check what the content licence was, I was unable to
find any definitive information where I would expect to find it; i.e.
at http://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright or
http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Legal_FAQ or
http://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/License . The latter two seem to
suggest that the OSM Contributor Terms [4] act as a content licence,
but I don't see how that's possible, since the Contributor Terms are
concerned with people giving rights and assurances to OSMF, rather
than OSMF providing rights to data users. The Contributor Terms
themselves mention the DbCL as one of the possible licences OSMF can
use, but don't actually say that OSMF are using it for current data

So can I enquire as to exactly what the content licence is for OSM's
geodata, and suggest that it is made clearer on the pages linked

I guess some people may argue that the individual data items in OSM
are facts and so aren't copyrightable anyway. However, it's not
obvious to me that this is necessarily the case for all the data items
(there are certainly some things in OSM that are subject to creative
judgement) and it would seem that uncertainty over the content licence
is a real issue for data users. Even if an explicit content licence
may not be necessary, it would surely be good to soecify one like the
DbCL anyway.



[1] http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/
[2] http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/dbcl/1-0/
[3] http://spatiallaw.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/the-odbl-and-openstreetmap-analysis-and.html
[4] http://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/License/Contributor_Terms

Robert Whittaker

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