[Osmf-talk] License with or without virus

Kai Krueger kakrueger at gmail.com
Fri Dec 4 17:16:24 UTC 2009

Henk Hoff wrote:
> We have had a very long process of getting to where we are now. There 
> was always a pretty consistent message from the Foundation "we want to 
> keep the SA and BY clauses in place". We simply cannot ask the 
> membership to go for a license without these provisions. Not at this 
> time, just before the membership vote. 
> The question now is: is ODbL a better license for OSM than CC-BY-SA. yes 
> or no.

I completely agree with the fact that the current question should be is 
ODbL better than CC-BY-SA and therefore either move to ODbL or not move 
at all (for the moment). ODbL should be the least objectionable license 
as in essence it is the same as CC-BY-SA that everyone has agreed to 
before. So this move has the highest chance of being successful and even 
that turns out to be highly controversial. So imho a move to PD that 
changes the complete philosophy of the license at this point is 
hopeless, independent of if it is a better suited license or not.

That said, I do hope that a third option (PD) is included in the vote, 
with the third option being interpreted as "I release all my data under 
PD and therefore I obviously also agree to ODbL, which is what the 
license would change to. (Either because I don't care for Licenses and 
don't want to be bothered again, or because I actively want my data to 
be PD)".

The advantages of the third option is several fold. For one, if we ever 
have to change License again e.g. to actually go to PD, some fraction 
has already agreed to the new license by stating that their contribution 
is PD. Secondly we get a representative poll for how current users stand 
with respect to PD vs Share alike. And thirdly we get to change to ODbL 
and get on with it.

The disadvantes are... well I don't know. The only thing I can imagine 
is that formulating it in a way that 150000 users, the majority of which 
probably don't care about OSM all that much and particularly not the 
license, understand it correctly and can make a simple but informed 
choice. Any of the alternatives proposed here (i.e. including long 
debates pro and contra without a clear message) are way worse though 
with that respect and might well just lead to many less interested but 
just as valuable OSM contributers to ignore the whole thing and thus 
cause more loss of data for everyone.

So in summary I think that unless we can agree to one clear simple 
message we should not go for a vote amongst all contributors. E.g. a 
message of the form "OSMF strongly endorses the move to ODbL and 
therefore asks everyone to re license their contributions" also 
providing a short summary of the main reasons and advantages of the move 
with then at the end a link to "Further discussions on the pro and 
contra of the license move". Everything else seems like a recipe for 
disaster to me, if you need a (close to) unanimous vote to do anything. 
Adding a third option though doesn't necessarily make it a less clear 
message as it can be seen as a stronger yes to ODbL, as it agrees to any 

The vote amongst OSMF members is a different matter though, as there one 
can expect that everyone is sufficiently interested in OSM to put in a 
bit of thought about what they actually want and if ODbL correctly 
achieves this, so that should be more of a "fair question". 
Unfortunately though, at least I, sometimes feel confused about if we 
are discussion the OSMF vote, or the entire contributor vote.


P.S. for the record, I am a fairly strong pro share-alike person 
(unless all the debates about suing each other for use of OSM data even 
for "hobby projects" go on any further, particularly in the German 

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