[talk-au] NearMap Community Licence and OSM Contributor Terms

Ben Last ben.last at nearmap.com
Thu Aug 19 09:09:37 BST 2010

Hi all

As you may have noticed, if you follow the mailing lists, there's been a
certain amount of discussion about using NearMap aerial imagery (which we
call PhotoMaps) as a source for generating OSM data, in the light of the
current Contributor Terms (CTs, as currently shown at
http://www.osmfoundation.org/wiki/License/Contributor_Terms).  We've been
looking at the CTs (or rather, our lawyers have), and as a result of this,
we need to make a couple of points clear.

We should emphasise first that *you still have the same rights to use
NearMap images that you always
*; you can use them to derive information that you own and may distribute
under a CC-BY-SA licence.  We've also been looking at the ODbL in detail
and, pending a final word from the lawyers, we would be able to allow
derived works from our PhotoMaps to be distributed under ODbL/DbCL.  We'd
also be prepared to make this explicit on our site, to avoid any issues with
explicit permissions (see para 1 of the CTs).

However, there are a couple of problems with the CTs.

First: paragraph 2 of the CTs requires that an OSM user grants the OSMF a
very wide ranging licence ("a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive,
perpetual, irrevocable license to do any act that is restricted by copyright
over anything within the Contents, whether in the original medium or any
other. These rights explicitly include commercial use, and do not exclude
any field of endeavour").  We can't grant a licence to derive data from our
PhotoMaps that would allow the derived work to be submitted to OSM under
that clause; it introduces yet another licence (above and beyond CC-BY-SA
and ODbL/DbCL).

Second: paragraph 3 of the CTs allows the licence to be changed to "another
free or open licence", which isn't further defined.  We can't grant a
licence to derive data from our PhotoMaps that would allow the derived work
to be submitted to OSM under that clause, since that other licence might not
be CC-BY-SA or ODbL/DbCL.

To summarise: under the terms of our Community licence (
http://www.nearmap.com/products/community-licence) you can't use our
PhotoMaps to derive data in a way that allows you to license that data under
the current Contributor Terms.  Data already derived from our PhotoMaps
remains under CC-BY-SA, which again means that it can't be licensed under
the CTs.

Because of this, we're making the following changes to our website:

   - Changing the wording of the page that explains the Community licence so
   that it says "you may Use the Licensed PhotoMaps or Modified PhotoMaps to
   obtain information which you can then use, under the Creative Commons
   Attribution Share Alike
(CC-BY-SA)<http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/> licence,
   to populate or update community street mapping projects" rather than
   referencing OpenStreetMap directly.
   - Removing the Edit button that links directly to OpenStreetmap (opens
   Potlatch with NearMap images).

I have to say that we're doing this very reluctantly; we're big supporters
of OSM (many of us here are active members) and we're still committed to
doing whatever we can to support it directly.  We've put a lot of effort
(actually, a very large amount of development time and money) into building
parts of our system to support OSM, and that's now having to be modified or
put on hold.  We're going to continue to talk to the Licence Working Group
about this, and to try and find a way around the issues we have.  Our
concerns aren't based on any philosophical objections, just on
incompatibilities between our use of a share-alike licence and the current
CTs.  We very much hope that there'll be a resolution that will allow us to
get back to actively and positively encouraging mappers and others to use
our PhotoMaps to enhance and build OpenStreetMap.

Finally, as ever, I want to make it clear that it's not our place as a
company to try and direct or influence the direction of OSM.  That's for the
community and OSMF to debate and decide.


Ben Last
Development Manager (HyperWeb)
NearMap Pty Ltd
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