[Osmf-talk] New license change proposal status

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Thu Dec 3 14:54:18 UTC 2009

80n wrote:
> How did you deal with point 12 about license complexity?  The proposal
> document misconstrues the problem as being one about readability by a
> layman.  The issue is about complexity of law and is more analogous to the
> reliability of complex and untested software.

I don't believe ODbL is complex law.

It is certainly verbose. It has to be because, as you point out, it  
covers copyright, db right and contract, and attempts to make those  
work in different jurisdictions. But no-one has yet come up with  
another way of enforcing share-alike on data - the only alternative  
proferred thus far is CC's norms, which I think are quite nice, but  
for which I don't see much enthusiasm in the OSM community. (I'd be  
genuinely interested to know what you, as a share-alike advocate,  
think of CC's approach.)

But verbose doesn't mean complex. A telephone directory is long, too,  
but it's not complex!

ODbL is based on tried and tested law. For example, the definition of  
derivative works is entirely what you would expect in the light of (in  
the US) Durham v Tomy (and in turn Rural v Feist). None of it goes  
beyond what even I, as a layman, know of case law and statute law.

The only area in which I would not be 100% confident is that relating  
to EU database right. That's more to do with the nature of the right  
itself, which is not yet settled and is being progressively sharpened  
through case law. I'm not aware of anything that does a better job on  
database right; nonetheless the right is out there and being enforced,  
and copyright protection has been weakened to take account of this new  
right. So we have to respond to it.


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