[Osmf-talk] License Status III

Mike Collinson mike at ayeltd.biz
Sat Dec 5 12:19:53 UTC 2009

The License Working Group met Tuesday and Friday. In summary:

- In light of osmf-talk discussion, we have made some changes described below.

- We will start the vote on ODbL as requested by the board, tonight if we get the changes properly in place. I will send an additional email to this list to confirm.

- We are starting the vote because we believe we are far enough advanced to ask your judgement and move forward. 

- The voting period is three weeks, so if you personally still feel there is an important issue we can continue to discuss it. It may not get resolved to your satisfaction, so please decide whether it really is a show-stopper or something for future improvement, and vote accordingly.

- If we have not answered or adequately answered your issues, it is not because we are against you.

Traffic on this list is currently high, but the topic is important. For all who are conducting discussion with due courtesy to all OSMF members, thank you, and  LWG members will continue to respond where they can.


If ODbL is accepted, existing contributors will get a page to Accept or Refuse the new contributor terms. We will now add a third option, (the wording of which may be fine tuned):

Accept and I consider all my data PD anyway and don't claim database protection, so do whatever you want 

We believe this is important to build general consensus across OpenStreetMap.


We would like to formally acknowledge here and in the proposal document (new wording going in now) that the proposed change is not without risks.  Open geodata is not software and it is not a creative work per se. Open licenses have been evolved for those areas but we are in a pioneering area, particularly when it comes to trying to apply Share-Alike. ODbL fixes many of the problems with using CC BY SA because it is specifically designed for databases. It has been worked on extensively by the Open Data Commons, the LWG have had professional legal review and opinion and a lot of the OpenStreetMap community have contributed to bug spotting via legal-talk, here and on the OpenStreetMap wiki pages. But what is new is new. 


In the voting email that you will get, we have added two links for personal statements for and against changing to ODbL.  These links are open now for additions and are not restricted  to OSMF members. They are not restricted to English language:



We are making necessary changes to documentation but expect to start voting tonight.  I will email this list with confirmation.

Voting will be open for three weeks and will be based on a simple (50%+) majority of votes cast.  Informally, LWG would like this to be much higher as we feel there should a good consensus rather than just "winning".

We are moving ahead instead of waiting because we believe:

1) ODbL fixes significant problems with our current license and better promotes what OpenStreetMap is trying to do:

"OpenStreetMap creates and provides free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The project was started because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive, or unexpected ways."

2) ODbL 1.0 and the new Contributor Terms have been properly analysed and show-stopper and most smaller issues resolved.

3) Consideration of further improvement should be done as part a longer term process, just as with other open licenses.

We would now like your judgement on our assessment.

Michael Collinson
License Working Group

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