[talk-ph] OSM's new license process

Mike Collinson mike at ayeltd.biz
Thu Mar 5 20:43:11 GMT 2009

Hi guys,

I recently joined the OSMF License Working Group in order to assist with the workload in working with the OSM community in migrating to a new clearer license for OSM data.  I've copied below an announcement made to the OSM legal-talk mailing list and you can find similar information at http://foundation.openstreetmap.org/the-openstreetmap-license/

I do not pretend to be an expert in these matters despite professional experience in software licensing but as I am on this mailing list I will try my best to answer any questions that you have and to draw attention to any concerns that you bring up.



The OSMF License Working Group is excited and pleased to announce the 
completion of legal drafting and review by our legal counsel of the new 
proposed license, the Open Database License Agreement (ODbL).

The working group have put much effort in to inputting OSMs needs and 
supporting the creation of this license however OpenStreetMap's 
expertise is not in law. Therefore, we have worked with the license 
authors and others to build a suitable home where a community and 
process can be built around it. Its new home is with the Open Data 
Commons http://www.opendatacommons.org. We encourage the OSM community 
join in the Open Data Commons comments process from today to make sure 
that the license is the best possible license for us.

The license remains firmly rooted in the attribution, share-alike 
provisions of the existing Creative Commons License but the ODbL is far 
more suitable for open factual databases rather than the creative works 
of art. It extends far greater potential protection and is far clearer 
when, why and where the share-alike provisions are triggered.

The license is now available at 
http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/ and you are welcome to 
make final comments about the license itself via a wiki and mailing list 
also at http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/ up until 20th 
March 23:59 GMT. To be clear, this process is led by the ODC and 
comments should be made there as part of that process.

Attached below is our proposed adoption plan and the latest will be at 
. This is not cast in stone and we welcome direct comments on the 
discussion page for the plan:  
In summary, we'd like to give time for final license comments to be 
absorbed, ask OSMF members to vote on whether they wish to put the 
current version of the new license to the community for adoption and 
then begin the adoption process itself. The board has decided to wait 
until the final version before formally reviewing the license.

Our legal counsel has also responded to the OSM-contributed Use Cases 
http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Open_Data_Licence/Use_Cases and his 
responses have been added there. OSMFs legal counsel also recommends the 
use of the Factual Information License 
http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/fil/ for the individual 
contributions from individual data contributors, and any aggregation 
covered by the ODbL.

There other open issues that we seek OSM community support and input on. 
If you would like to help, please give input at 

For instance: Who actually should be the licensor of the ODbL license? 
The OSM Foundation is the logical choice but are there any alternatives? 
And implementation What Ifs ... for example, what if the license is not 

Thank you for your patience with this process. The license working group 
looks forward to working with community input and an opening up of the 

All dates approximate for review.  This version is as of 5th March.

5th March 

    * Working group meeting. Finalise implementation plan following review of plan comments; What If scenario planning. 

12th March 

    * Working group meeting. Review of community feedback received to date. 

?? March

    * Date unknown, Jordan (the author of the ODbL) has said he will publish a further draft on the comment site based on the comments received, before the end of the comment process. We don't know when that date will be. 

20th March 

    * End of OpenData Commons' ODbL 1.0  comment period. This is the close of the comment period on the ODbL *only* and this is driven by its author and its home at the OKFN. This is not the close of comments on how, when and if OSM adopts that license. 

28 March 

    * ODbL 1.0 is expected to be released by Open Data Commons at The Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) London event. 

31st March 

    * OSMF Board first considers endorsing licence and asks OSMF members (as of 23rd January) to vote (2 week, after 1 week we will send out a reminder to people who haven't yet responded) on whether ODbL 1.0 should be put to the community for adoption. 
    * If the OSMF so decides, it will send an email to OSMF members. 

What follows is based on a positive response from the OSMF members... 

+ 2 week 

    * Website only allows you to log in and use API when you have set yes/no on new license. New signups agree to both licenses. Sign up page still says dual licensing so that we can release planet etc. People who have made zero edits are automatically moved over to new license and are emailed a notice. 
    * Website to allow users to voluntarily agree to new license. Design allows you to click yes, or if you disagree a further page explaining the position and asking to reconsider as there may be a requirement to ultimately remove the users data. (no decision to actually remove data from the central database yet... ) This will help stop people accidentally clicking 'no'. Sign up page now states you agree to license your changes under both CCBYSA and also ODbL. 
    * Large data imports where permission has been given previously (AND, GeoBase etc) are asked formally to agree to release their data under the ODbL. (informal communications ongoing lead up to this point led by the working group and the groups/individuals who worked on the imports). 

+ 2 weeks? 

    * Require people to respond to the licensing question. How? Should we deny API access otherwise? 

+1 month 

    * Working group meeting. Assessment of number of no responses and number of people who haven't said either way. Emails ready to send to contact those who have not clicked yes or no. Personal outreach to those who have said no. 

+ 2 months 

    * Final cut-off. Community Question... What do we do with the people who have said no or not responded?  
    * A final planet.osm export of the database under the CC-BY-SA license will be published and will be made available for an indefinite period.  

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