[OSM-legal-talk] FYI Collective Database Guideline

Christoph Hormann chris_hormann at gmx.de
Fri Jun 10 08:13:42 UTC 2016

On Thursday 09 June 2016, Simon Poole wrote:
> >
> > But we are happy with uses that invoke share-alike as well, aren't
> > we?
> Basically the issue is that the guidelines are essentially "safe
> harbour" statements, "we are ok if you do X", to provide a more
> secure and stable environment for users of our data.

This is a desirable goal but don't forget there is another side to 
that - if i as an entrepreneur consider contributing to the OSM 
database it could be important for me that my contributions cannot be 
used by the competition against my interests.  Share-alike might play a 
significant role in such consideration.  So having pro-share-alike safe 
harbour statements might be equally important.

> They do not claim to be the only possible interpretation of the ODbL
> and they do not claim that use that is outside of the guidelines  is
> automatically incompatible with the ODbL. We do however believe that
> the guidelines can be reasonably assumed to be covered by the ODbL
> and making these statements or clarifications if you so wish is
> within our rights as licensor.
> Giving non-trivial (aka concrete business use cases) negative
> examples not only has the danger of essentially by fiat declaring
> something "illegal" were no case has been made and that we've not
> been able to look at in detail

To me honest - i think this approach (avoiding clear statements about 
one side of the line while making such about the other side) is highly 

From a business standpoint it is often more important to have a definite 
legal framework than to have it shaped in a certain way.  If you know 
something you want to do is definitely legal that is very good.  If you 
definitely know something is not allowed that is usually OK as well.  
But if you think something is probably not legal but are wrong about it 
and the competition uses this idea to their advantage while you don't 
this is really bad.

Of course the OSMF cannot produce legal certainty in either direction 
but at any level of certainty making one-sided statements is a 
two-sided sword.

Christoph Hormann

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