[Osmf-talk] Contributor Agreement is Dual Licensing

Gervase Markham gerv at gerv.net
Sat Dec 12 22:06:39 UTC 2009

On 12/12/09 13:14, Matt Amos wrote:
> i apologise if there's some point i'm missing, but i thought i had
> addressed the issue:
> http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2009-December/000439.html
> http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2009-December/000445.html
> http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2009-December/000464.html

So the official position of the OSMF is that the upgrade clause in the 
ODbL is not sufficient insurance against future eventualities, and that 
the OSMF must acquire (joint) full rights over the data of all 
contributors in order to protect against such eventualities? Is that right?

Can you give examples of such possible future major events? Sudden 
worldwide changes in copyright law? The possibility that ODbL 1.0 has 
holes and needs improvement is covered by the upgrade clause in the ODbL 
itself. So it can't be that.

You are effectively requiring the equivalent of open source code 
copyright assignment from all contributors. That's a big deal. And, 
importantly, is not a _necessary_ consequence of a change to the ODbL, 
yet seems to be piggy-backing along on top of it.

Here is the paragraph in question:

"OSMF agrees to use or sub-license Your Contents as part of a database 
only under the terms of one of the following licenses: ODbL 1.0, 
CC-BY-SA 2.0, or another free and open license; which other free and 
open license is chosen by a vote of the OSMF membership and approved by 
at least a majority vote of active contributors."

There is a great deal about this which is strange. If the relicensing 
happens, then all contributions at the time of the relicensing by people 
who have agreed to the terms will be under ODbL 1.0 and CC-BY-SA 2.0 
anyway. So why does the OSMF need the ability to license them as such?

Also, "free and open" is not defined by the document. If the vote is all 
that decides whether a particular licence is to be changed to, then the 
correct text would be simply "another licence". After all, if they've 
voted for it, it must be free and open. Or who is going to step in and 
tell them their vote to relicense under a not-free-and-open licence is 
invalid? And what authority will they appeal to for the definition of 
"free and open"?


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