[Tagging] [OSM-talk] How is there not any creative-type (US) copyright in OSM data?

Anthony osm at inbox.org
Sun Dec 6 16:59:31 GMT 2009

On Sun, Dec 6, 2009 at 11:37 AM, Eugene Alvin Villar <seav80 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Now whether one set of 20 nodes or a different set of 20 nodes better
> represent the shape of a road is a matter of creative subjectivity. Neither
> set is more mistaken nor more inaccurate than the other.

What set of nodes constitutes a "best fit" to a given shape with a given
number of points, is fairly objective.  You may "creatively" choose
something other than the best solution, but again, I don't think that
constitutes copyrightability.  Not within context.  (If you intentionally
chose something other than the "best fit", for something sort of stylistic
purpose, fine, but I really don't see how that's applicable to road

I think that's borderline at best.  But I do agree with your greater point,
that there probably is some sort of "thin copyright" to the OSM database.
(Of course, that "thin copyright" is then further diluted among a couple
hundred thousand contributors, making it very thin indeed.)

> For practical purposes, we can't add an infinite number of nodes or should
> even add 100 nodes to represent a perfectly circular roundabout,

We could, however, introduce a "arc" tag.  And if I was better at making
proposals (and/or the OSM processes were better at accepting proposals), it
would probably already be introduced.  To represent an arc, you only need
three points (start, end, and any third point on the arc uniquely defines a
triangle which is circumscribed by exactly one circle).  This could even be
made backward compatible.  Just split the way at the beginning and end of
the arc and put "arc=yes".  Renderers that don't know about arcs would use
three points (or four, or five, or whatever).  Renderers that do know about
them would use as many as is necessary for the resolution of the image.  (In
the case of an arc=yes tag with more than three points

Of course, I can't copyright this idea...  So you're free to use it if you'd
like with or without attribution to me.
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