[OSM-legal-talk] GADM license - any news?

Tom Lee tlee at mapbox.com
Tue Aug 25 18:14:09 UTC 2015

If it would be useful, I'd be happy to try to get in touch with the GADM
people. Sending emails like that is a substantial part of my workday :-) I
would just need clarity around what, specifically, we'd like to ask for
this time.

Simone, the factual nature of geodata and its effect on copyright is an
interesting question -- I've had more than a few (US-based) lawyers express
to me in passing that they're skeptical of the copyrightability of such
information. Ultimately, it is a question that can only be settled in a

In practice, I think you'll find limited enthusiasm for that argument here
for a few reasons:

- The argument has weaker footing outside the US; untangling those
jurisdictional questions is also quite tricky for a project of global scope
(and chartered under UK law)

- OSM has no trained IP lawyers at its disposal, cash reserves or potential
commercial windfalls to be had by taking risks. These three factors all
push toward a conservative approach.

- OSM uses copyright to license its own data; dismantling others' license
assertions through arguments about copyrightability is consequently a
pretty thorny prospect.

With all that said, there's no harm in asking GADM for permission. As I
said, I'm more than happy to do so if you'd like to work together on the

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