[Osmf-talk] Share Alike images

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Mon Dec 7 22:39:13 UTC 2009


Elizabeth Dodd wrote:
> I presume the terms of reference for the LWG were to "find and modify an 
> alternate licence" rather than to find out "what alternate licence did 
> contributors want?" because if the majority go PD they have wasted all that 
> work and effort in "protecting data" when the copyright owners (ie 
> contributors) decide to give it away instead.

The origins of the LWG are a bit murky (to me at least). The first time 
I saw the license issue brought up in a larger forum was at the first 
State of the Map conference in 2007 where there was a panel discussion 
followed by a show of hands which indicated that a majority of people
were in favour of PD. (Not because they thought PD was better, just 
because they thougt it was less problematic.) This show of hands seems 
not to have been recorded but in the past few days, Richard Fairhurst 
and Etienne have confirmed that they remember this outcome just like I do.

The very first OSMF board meeting minutes, from September 2007, already 
contain a phrase about "the need for appropriate legal advice or 
possibly even the drafting of a new license". On 17 January 2008, the 
OSMF board seems to have discussed the then newly-released Creative 
Commons "CC0" protocol, and the meeting notes say "As such it is not 
therefore thought that OSM contributors would sign up to this approach 
should it be adopted by OSM".

Just a few days earlier, Richard had written this blog post:


There, we read: "At heart, to gain widespread community acceptance, the 
licence needs to give our database the same three basic licensing 
elements (freely copiable; share-alike; attribution required) as it has 
at present."

All this paints the picture that nobody actually ever made an attempt to 
find out what contributors want, and that the show of hands at SOTM 2007 
was silently ignored. Everyone assumed that anything without share-alike 
was not palatable.

Judging from Steve Coast's massively anti-PD stance today you could be 
forgiven to assume that he pulled the strings behind the scenes to make 
sure PD is not even considered, but he didn't seem to be that outspoken 
at the time. Even the most ardent PD supporters continuously peppered 
their messages with phrases like "I don't think the community will want 
this, but..." and so on.

If you care to review the early 2007 licensing discussions here


you will find that we had a small number of very outspoken share-alike 
advocates on the lists who, coming from a strong ideological background, 
used phrases like: "This doesn't contribute to the domain of freedom 
that OSM wants to expand." - for many, OSM seemed to be but one puzzle 
piece in creating a "freer" world, and they had to be reminded (by Y.T.) 
that OSM's mission is not creating a free world, but free maps.

I think that the license working group has found the best share-alike 
license that we could use, and that they have done this job diligently 
and based on facts and lots of consultation. The initial premise, namely 
that it must be a share-alike license and nothing else will do, however 
has never been properly tested and is simply a "policy" or "ideology" issue.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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