Fwd: [OSM-talk] BSD/CC-by/LGPL vs. SharedAlike - decide now and forever

Lars Aronsson lars at aronsson.se
Tue Mar 21 21:51:11 GMT 2006

Daniel Haran wrote:

> We're not talking the GPL here, but the CC-By-SA. We can't allow a use
> for a non-profit and ban if for commercial enterprise. In most
> countries where census data is copyrighted under an incompatible
> license, non-profits are effectively unable to create maps with OSM
> data. I'm thinking of Anatole France, "The Law, in its majestic
> equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the
> bridges"

Let's get this clear: The GPL was not devised to help the poor.  
"Free" in free software doesn't mean "cheap" or "affordable".  It 
refers to freedom, more specifically the programmer's freedom to 
read and modify the source code of the program.  Poor people who 
sleep under bridges aren't programmers.  The GPL doesn't care 
about them.  It is highly aristocratic. It caters to programmers, 
not to end users or their economy.  It might have beneficial 
effects for end users' economy, but that is not the primary goal.

Many philantropic movements, such as the Red Cross, are also 
highly aristocratic.  The Red Cross originally aimed to help 
wounded soldiers in a war between two Christian member countries.  
It didn't aim to stop all wars.  It didn't aim to help the poor. 
It didn't aim to introduce democracy in all countries.  It didn't 
aim to abolish colonial rule.  I'm not even sure about slavery.

In the same way, we need to ask ourselves: What aim do we have 
with our contributions to OSM or similar projects?  And what 
licenses or other methods can best serve us to reach that goal?  
We should not assume that every person at every time wants to 
"help the poor".

I personally would want to break up the monopoly situation that we 
have with the national ordnance surveys in Europe, and to help 
programmers get creative with map data.

If somebody uses my data and produces a digital map, I want the 
users of the new map to have the same freedom to manipulate the 
new map.  I don't know what it would take in practice to enforce 
this transfer of freedom.  If it cannot be enforced, I might as 
well release my data into the public domain.  My freedom mission 
can be propagated in many other ways.

It would be even better if my licensing could have a viral effect 
where it forces some proprietary map data to become open. This is 
the effect that GPL has had on the Linux-based software from 
TomTom, see www.opentom.org.  But I don't know if any licensing of 
my map data could have this viral effect in practice.  That effect 
seems to be rather limited, anyway.  We haven't seen all of 
TomTom's software being GPLed, only the Linux related parts.

Imi and other GPL fundamentalists need to explain the *practical* 
differences between licensing options *for map data*.  Are we 
going to set up a fund, so we can pay lawyers to go after those 
companies (and charities!) that violate the CC-SA-BY license 
terms?  How can we prove that a certain derivate product was based 
on our data?  Do we need to introduce secret "easter eggs" for 
this?  Can we do so without violating our own license?

  Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
  Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se

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