[Talk-us] USA Rail: Calling all OSM railfans! (especially in California)

Simon Poole simon at poole.ch
Thu Apr 2 22:12:57 UTC 2015

Am 02.04.2015 um 05:20 schrieb Russ Nelson:
> ...
> April Fools! Yes, you can. There are many kinds of public domain maps
> whose republication needs no license. For example, in the US all maps
> published before the magic date, whatever year it is we're up to
> now. Maps copyrighted but not renewed. Maps published without a
> copyright before 1988. 
Very true.

> Maps with insufficient creative content to be
> copyrightable.

They may exist, but are you seriously saying that we (as in individual
mappers and the OSM community as a whole) should make that determination?
> There are maps which are canonical sources of facts about the world,
> such as a BNSF map naming subdivisions. No one can own a fact about
> the world, because it's a fact. Just like you can't patent math. Same
> idea. You can copyright a collection of facts. You can copyright the
> arrangement of facts. You can copy the presentation of facts. But you
> can't copyright the individual facts.
While is true that you can't own a fact in isolation, the problem is
they are rarely presented in that form.

Up to now OSM has drawn the line in such a way that stuff that is
signposted and is observable on the ground is fair game (with some
exceptions, I believe the GR issue is still unsolved). If you are using
a collection of facts, be it a list, a map, a file on a computer or
whatever, we have to now always taken the, fairly high ground, position
that you either need explicit permission (by agreement, licence or
similar) or that the use of the source is clearly not subject to
copyright any longer. Forgetting about other rights, regulations etc
that may exist for the purpose of this discussion.

What you seem to be saying in your above statement, followed by stevea's
battle call to actually do so,  that wholesale extraction of facts from
any source is unproblematic and is something that can be done without
further consideration and the net result can be used in OSM globally
with no expectation of problems. BTW you live in the country of software
patents which -is- essentially patenting math.

Alas I suspect you are kidding yourself in a big way.


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