[Osmf-talk] my views on the ODbL

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Mon Dec 7 12:07:44 UTC 2009

80n wrote:
> Yes, we can force people to release data under ODbL but we can't force
> them to sign the Contributor Terms and so OSM wouldn't benefit from
> their work.

This is an interesting point which, in amongst all the flamage and 
conspiracy theories, deserves some discussion. (It has already been 
discussed on osmf-talk, but not everyone, of course, reads that.)

OSMF's rationale for requiring sign-up, I believe, is that it makes 
relicensing easier. If copyright laws change drastically in two years' 
time, OSM has the ability to relicense the entire dataset under a "free 
or open licence" by a simple "majority vote of active contributors".

It does, however, mean that data that has been "opened" by ODbL's 
share-alike terms may not necessarily be available for use in OSM. (I 
say "may not" because OSMF is at liberty to accept contributions from 
sources which have not signed the terms, if it wishes.)

So the decision is which of those is the most important.

My feeling is that I would rather have the latter. I would like to see 
the Contributor Terms written so that the relicensing ability is kept 
for the first 6 or 12 months after the changeover, just in case a sudden 
problem is discovered with ODbL which causes us all to rethink.

But bearing in mind that ODbL has an automatic upgrade clause _anyway_ 
(4.4a), I believe the safeguard is already in place: if laws change, 
ODbL will change to meet them.

The ability to integrate shared-alike improvements without the formal 
consent is a benefit of ODbL and one I would like to see us using.


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