[Osmf-talk] my views on the ODbL

James Livingston doctau at mac.com
Tue Dec 8 09:05:18 UTC 2009

On 07/12/2009, at 10:07 PM, Richard Fairhurst wrote:
> 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".

I believe that's what the requirement is for too. The question is what kind of drastic changes would have to occur, and where? What one person might consider a drastic change may already exist in another country.

I think that the only real use for the power would be if there was a major flaw in ODbL, and we somehow couldn't convince the right people to release a newer version of ODbL that fixes it.

> I say "may not" because OSMF is at liberty to accept contributions from 
> sources which have not signed the terms, if it wishes.

It certainly can, but then it's limiting it's re-licensing power - it would either need the permission of the source's copyright holder or to remove that data. I can see how it could happen though, a group isn't happy to give us the power to re-license their data how we wish, but would give their permission for any reasonable license we come up with.

> 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.

I would hope this would happen, and I think the ODbL authors are likely to fix any flaws that get found.

Which is why I don't personally think that part of the contributor terms is necessary - I think the advantage of being able to import other ODbL data outweighs the small risk of there being a flaw and not being able to fix it.

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