[Talk-us] press from SOTM US

Alex Barth alex at mapbox.com
Mon Oct 22 23:24:45 GMT 2012

Thanks for kicking over to legal list. Responses inline.

On Oct 22, 2012, at 6:34 PM, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:

> Hi,
> On 22.10.2012 22:12, Alex Barth wrote:
>> I do hope to come to an agreement within OSM along the lines you just
>> hashed out, Frederik (while not quite advocating for it):
> This really ought to be discussed on legal-talk where there are many people with a year-long involvement into the finer details of the license - Cc+Followup there.
>> Right now we largely don't have functioning municipal
>> boundaries in OSM. Obviously, any data that is mixed into OSM data
>> for _powering_ the geocoder would fall under share alike
>> stipulations.
> I'm not sure about this "obviously".
> I can imagine situations where someone collects geocoding queries and OSM's answers and perhaps even records which of the results the user clicked on afterwards, giving them a distinct advantage over other OSM users who don't have all that extra data. IIRC, geocoder.ca has proven that they can build a valuable geocoding database with such techniques. If we were to make a blanket declaration that geocoding doesn't trigger share-alike, we'd give that away, we'd allow people to build their own "improved upon OSM" geocoding databases and sell them on. If we allow it, then it *will* happen, because there's a commercial gain to be had.

I think a blanket declaration on geocoding isn't quite necessary. It's about clarifying what happens to the dataset that is being geocoded (a user database, a picture database, etc.).

Say we clarified that geocoding a dataset with an OSM powered geocoder (e. g. Nominatim) does not extend the ODbL license to such a dataset. This clarification would not apply to the dataset that actually powered the geo coder. So if I went and gathered improvement suggestions of my users ("move the marker to the right position on the map") and I added them into that OSM dataset that powers the geocoder, this OSM dataset would still constitute a derivative DB.

More below...

> We would even open the door to services where someone geocodes with OSM and then says "wrong result? just move the marker to the right position on this map", and keeps the corrections to himself, in a separate "corrections" database.
> I haven't thought this through enough to actually say which of the "unwanted use cases" are indeed possible even with the current "substantial" guidelines (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Open_Data_License/Substantial_-_Guideline) and which additional "unwanted use cases" would be possible with a weakened form of those.
> We should perhaps not only make a list of "what people would like to do with geocoding", but a second list of "what we don't want people to do" (things like I sketched above - build improved database on top of OSM and market that), then we can maybe check any guidelines we draft against these points.
>> You bring up the important problem of properly bounding the geocoding
>> case. I'm thinking if all that can be extracted from OSM's database
>> are names and addresses for lat/lon pairs or lat/lon pairs for names
>> or addresses, it would be arguably impossible or at least
>> impractically hard to recreate a functioning street network from it
>> and the extracted data would be a narrow subset of OSM no matter how
>> many locations are being geocoded. Thoughts?
> I'm not sure that "a functioning street network" is the bit that share-alike intends to protect and the rest is not: This whole discussion arose from the fact that there is heightened commercial interest in OSM-based geocoding - that there even seem to be people who are not interested in a functioning road network at all but who would be prepared to invest quite a bit of money to "switch2osm" their geocoding. So it seems that maybe address data is as valuable as the street network and should have the same level of protection?

Fair point. Still - I would ask what is the purpose of this protection and how does it benefit OSM on this particular level? OSM clearly benefits of being used. The usage of OSM data in maps has been clarified, I believe the ability to unencumberedly leverage OSM data to create produced works is a huge benefit for OpenStreetMap as a whole as it creates more versatile map styles, (and yes, abilities to monetize them) and in turn have more map users and thousands of micro incentives of improving our common map. Important similar incentives are routing or geo coding. The latter is where I think the shoe starts to hurt. In my mind there's much to be gained by giving better incentives to contribute to OSM by clarifying the geocoding situation and little to be lost by allowing narrow extracts of OSM. I believe we can do this within the letter of the ODbL and within the spirit of why the ODbL was adopted.

BTW, I don't want to know how many people out there have used Nominatim for geocoding without having any idea... 

> Bye
> Frederik
> -- 
> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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Alex Barth
tel (+1) 202 250 3633

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