[Talk-us] Facts about the world

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Fri Apr 3 00:41:58 UTC 2015

Simon Poole writes:
>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).

Yes, all of that is fair game.  Though I don't know what "the GR 
issue" is, and ask you to please clarify.

>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.

When a "collection of facts about the world" are data published by a 
government (around here, those are our employees), ESPECIALLY if/as 
one is in a jurisdiction where geo data published by us (via the 
government) are explicitly prohibited to be encumbered by copyright 
or onerous "Terms" -- as I do -- then use of those data flowing into 
OSM should be absolutely uncontroversial.  As the explicit example I 
used in the instant case, road/rail crossing data published by our 
PUC that became reverse-engineered names of subdivisions sufficient 
to tag nastily-tagged TIGER data (just plain wrong, but better than 
nothing and an OK starting place) so they are more correct is a 
perfectly valid use of such data.  I believe anybody in any of the 49 
other states can do this, but I am not as familiar with their Public 
Records Acts (or stare decisis) as I am California's.  Nor am I an 
attorney.  But I can read and make these determinations.  In fact, I 
believe any reasonably intelligent adult can do so.  If we can't, it 
is incumbent upon OSM to help us do better.  Erring on the side of 
"high ground" safety might be a good place to plant an initial flag, 
but if it's location is wrong and we need to move it to a more 
accurate place, we must do so.

>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

This is putting it too strongly, indeed.  "Facts about the world," 
where, for example, long snaking industrial things with names that go 
through my and millions of others' neighborhoods should also be named 
in OSM.  I see no problem whatsoever with that.  I do say to not get 
these facts from sources where copyright is an issue.  But if, as is 
true in the instant case, it can be determined from "is, can be or 
should be known by the public as 'facts about the world,'" then yes, 
I stand by my "battle call."  As "facts about the world," these data 
belong to us, and when true, we can put them into OSM.  (Sometimes 
such data, like airline routes, are inappropriate to put into OSM -- 
but that's another topic).

It sounds like it is getting a bit shrill.  I'll say it again:  I 
wish light, not heat.

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