[OSM-talk] Results from license debate - assing (c) to OSMF

David Earl david at frankieandshadow.com
Thu Jul 19 09:36:10 BST 2007

On 19/07/2007 09:11, spaetz wrote:
> On Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 07:46:14PM +0100, David Earl wrote:
>> Let's turn the debate upside down: let's decide what we want the license 
>> to do for us, not what (we think or a lawyer thinks) the license 
>> requires us to do. The debate then is about what our purpose is rather 
>> than the minutiae of the words of someone else's license. We seem always 
>> to be unnecessarily bashing ourselves with the most restrictive 
>> interpretation of the words rather than asking ourselves what it is we 
>> actually want to license to do for us.
> I like that approach and bet it's more productive in getting a consensus.
> However, it will unfortunately not work as is now. As long as we don't assign copyrights to a single entity, we (community, OSMF or whoever) can clarify as long as they want with no impact. It only takes a single contributor who interpretes the license in a different manner, to sue the user of the data. To compare this to Linux, it doesn't matter what Linus Torvalds thinks or what consensus has been reached, Harald Welte (from gpl-violations.org) can always go after people which *he* thinks misuse his netfilter source code.

True, but that continues to be true whatever any lawyer says. Anyone can 
sue anyone anytime if they want. Clarification either by a lawyer 
interpreting the words of the license or by us defining what we want it 
to mean at least means someone suing is less likely to win if the case 
is one that doesn't agree with the clarifications and more likely if it 

We can also ask contributors to agree (or otherwise) with the license 
interpretations, which is a rather less drastic step than reassigning 
copyright. Not that any approach to making things clearer conflicts with 
reassigning copyright anyway.


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