[Osmf-talk] Blanket copyright licence in Contributor Terms

Matt Amos matt at asklater.com
Tue Dec 15 14:25:16 UTC 2009

Gervase Markham wrote:
> On 13/12/09 17:31, Matt Amos wrote:
>> Gervase Markham wrote:
>>> On 13/12/09 06:28, Matt Amos wrote:
>>>> yes, the contributor terms means that OSM wouldn't be able to accept
>>>> such an ODbL contribution. imagining that we were accepting
>>>> contributions under the ODbL, then it would be another point of
>>>> difficulty that the Contents licenses would have to be compatible.
>>> Has the OSMF produced guidance on what sorts of Contents licences it
>>> will accept?
>> sorry, i wasn't suggesting that was currently possible - i was just
>> imagining if contributions under ODbL were possible as a thought 
>> experiment.
> Again, this confuses me. Are you saying that the LWG has not thought 
> about how to deal with incoming ODbLed contributions at any level other 
> than as a thought experiment?

sorry that this has confused you. LWG has thought about it and you'll 
find the relevant details in the minutes.

what i was saying, hopefully clearer this time, is that the current 
proposal makes accepting ODbL contributions without extra agreement from 
the licensor impossible. however, if that weren't the case, there are 
still problems with accepting ODbL contributions as ODbL is only half 
the license. as others have pointed out, rights in the individual 
Contents are licensed more-or-less independently of the database rights. 
for substantial contributions, where the database rights are covered by 
the ODbL, there is still a chance that the Contents licenses aren't 
compatible with the proposed permissive Contents license.

>>> That's not true. the ODbL has an upgrade clause, which allows the
>>> license to be changed.
>> upgraded to later versions of ODbL, yes.
>>> Why do you need additional ability to change over and above that?
>> let's say the zeitgeist changes,
> That's too vague to be a reason.

let me rephrase it; suppose that the general feeling about what is the 
right sort of license in the OSM community changes significantly. it's 
not unreasonable to expect the composition of a community to change, or 
for those comprising the community to change their minds.

>> or an even better license comes along
>> which isn't ODbL,
> Then we can do what we are doing now, again. If people think it's 
> better, we'll switch. If they don't, we won't. You don't need extra 
> rights in the Contributor Terms to do this.

of course, but in the intervening time many people may become 
uncontactable. this means we go through exactly the same process we're 
going through now, with exactly the same possibility of data loss.

>> or the law changes in a way ODbL can't deal with,
> How can the law change in a way that you can't change a legal agreement 
> to handle?

i don't know, i'm not a lawyer or a legislator. but i'm willing to 
consider the possibility that laws will be passed which ODbL can't, or 
won't, react to.

>> or the nature of OSM changes.
> What does _that_ mean?

imagine we move to a completely distributed model where no single 
licensor holds a substantial portion of the data and that data 
downloading is done in a peer-to-peer fashion. this might be a blue-sky 
idea, but it has been suggested on the OSM lists before.

> I'm afraid your list of possibilities is not convincing. :-(

again, my apologies. what possibilities would you find convincing?



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