[Talk-us] SOTM-US geocoding/share-alike discussion

Michal Migurski mike at stamen.com
Mon Oct 22 04:05:08 GMT 2012

I'm not on legal-talk, so this mail is going out only to Talk-US. I'm happy to have it forwarded.

We had a license BoF organized primarily by Mapbox (Eric Gunderson and Alex Barth) with participation from Foursquare (David Blackman), on the topic of the license and its effect on geocoding data. Steve C, Henk Hoff, Paul Norman, Richard Fairhurst and many others attended. My understanding of Mapbox's issue, paraphrased, is that they have potential clients with lawyers scared of the ODbL and license status of latitude and longitudes returned from addresses geocoded against OSM.

As I understood it, the end result of the discussion was that the ODbL may or may not apply in this case and that Mapbox should submit some specific uses cases to the board to illustrate their specific concern so we can all stop blathering about whether the license is good or bad and move on to useful particulars.

In other words, what the 20120522 LWG meeting notes say.


On Oct 21, 2012, at 1:58 AM, Frederik Ramm wrote:

> Hi,
>   on talk-us there was a mention of Carl Frantzen's recent three-part
> article with SOTM-US coverage, http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/10/openstreetmap-part-1-new-cartographers.php,
> and his mention of "OSM moving away from his open-source roots".
> Apparently, this refers to some unfortunate statements at SOTM-US about
> share-alike being bad for business or something, and Frantzen mentions
> that a couple of businesses have set up an informal group to discuss
> which bits of our license they don't understand or want clarification
> on. As far as I know, nobody who knows anything about OSM seriously
> suggested that we "move away from open source", it was just a phrase
> unfortunately reported.
> I am still rather surprised to hear about this as a side note of SOTM-US
> coverage instead of here on this list where license discussions should
> be at home. I would urge anyone who is unclear about anything with ODbL
> and/or who believes that any community norms we have must be refined, to
> discuss that here on this mailing list - whether it's for business or
> personal use.
> Looking through past discussions in the archives of minutes of our
> Licensing Working Group, it seems clear to me that OSM data under ODbL
> is unlikely to ever be available for "no strings attached" geocoding; we
> won't ask for your customer database just because you geocode with OSM,
> but you will have to adhere to some rules nonetheless.
> LWG has never actually made a decision on geocoding, and all mentions in
> their minutes carry big disclaimers ("This is a summary of our
> discussion and should NOT be construed as a formal statement of
> position"). Under that disclaimer, the 20120515 minutes contain the
> following:
>> To be able to claim that the remainder of the record, (often
>> proprietary business information or personal information such as a
>> patient record) is not virally touched by geocoding against OSM ODbL
>> data needs a distinction to be demonstrated. This distinction needs
>> to be a clear and logical general rule or principle. It also needs to
>> be acceptable to the OSM community. At the moment, we feel this does
>> not exist.
> In the same notes there's a discussion of a "like with like" principle
> which means that "Whatever is used in the (reverse)geocoding look-up is
> virally touched, but nothing else."
> The 20120522 meeting notes contain a link to a concept paper
> https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1Ag81OlT1TtnhYwVE-bBtL018SNoU_V-anG4wLdwMT4c
> and explicitly say: "To improve it, and test the rationality of the
> ideas expressed, we need and welcome real-world cases of geocoding and
> reverse-geocoding."
> So I guess anyone who wants to use OSM in a geocoding scenario should
> read that and submit their opinion, here or to LWG.
> Personally, I've gone on record as an advocate of a non-share-alike (PD) license for OSM but the project as a whole has decided to have a share-alike license and I accept that; I don't think that "geocode as much as you want without sharing any data" is possible with the ODbL data set.
> Bye
> Frederik
> -- 
> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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michal migurski- mike at stamen.com

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