[Osmf-talk] Contributor Agreement is Dual Licensing

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Wed Dec 16 10:59:23 UTC 2009

80n wrote:

> On Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 10:36 AM, Frederik Ramm wrote:
>> For me, that is as if you were claiming that it is a creative act of
>> yours when you decide how many spaces you put before the opening <node>
>> tag, or whether you write 49.0014 or 4.90014E+1 - different ways of
>> expressing the same facts. Some of these ways may be better and some
>> worse but that doesn't make them creative in my opinion.
> An interesting test of creativity would be to compare the same area  
> mapped by two different people.  If there is no creativity then the  
> results should be fairly similar.
> I certainly know of mappers who have a distinctive style (Ben in
> Northamptonshire and TimSC in Surrey come readily to mind).

Both (yours and Frederik's) are very interesting viewpoints, and I
suspect there's some truth in both of them.

My reading of US case law - Montgomery v Mason being the most
relevant - suggests that basic street mapping, such as
http://osm.org/go/euwtZuMa, can't be described as creative.

That link (Worcester) is somewhere I mapped, but if you were to take
something of Ben's - say, Towcester, http://osm.org/go/eu4ktUogC- -
and strip out the non-street information, the result is largely the
same. Although I see Ben has more patience for doing little stubs at
the ends of roads than I do!

The same goes for some off-street features, like PROWs and NCN routes.
But for landuse etc. - yes, some creativity might well be involved, as
per your observation about Ben and TimSC. (Again, "different levels of
completeness" need not imply creativity. The fact I can't be bothered
with turning circles isn't a creative decision on my part, it's just
me being lazy.)

With Frederik's point in mind, I suspect some of this is a "thin
copyright". If a consumer post-processes the data, as they inevitably
would to unify it, they may end up ironing out some or indeed of the

But, as ever, it would be an over-simplification to say either "no OSM
data is copyrightable in the US" or "all OSM data is copyrightable in
the US".

The uncopyrightable ("less copyrightable", perhaps) stuff - i.e. basic
street mapping - is the most commercially valuable asset we have right
now. Obviously _we_ know we're building a wonderfully rich dataset,
but paid-for data is still mostly streets - think G-Y-M (G-Y-B?),
satnavs, etc. etc.

Adopting ODbL means we want all our data to be protected even in the
absence of copyright protection. Although I'm personally a PD
advocate, I think ODbL's approach is an honest and consistent position
to take.


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