[OSM-talk] How is there not any creative-type (US) copyright in OSM data?

Anthony osm at inbox.org
Mon Dec 7 15:37:57 GMT 2009

On Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 10:11 AM, Ed Avis <eda at waniasset.com> wrote:

> Anthony <osm <at> inbox.org> writes:
> >Why do people believe that there no creative copyright in OSM data
> >I'm going with that assumption because that's what the OSM, Creative
> Commons,
> >and Open Data Commons, all are telling us.
> Do you have sources for that?  I haven't seen any statement by the OSMF
> saying that there is no creativity (and hence, in some countries, no
> copyright)
> in the OSM data.

I'm basically going on what I read in
http://www.osmfoundation.org/images/3/3c/License_Proposal.pdf and the
supporting documents.  Rereading it, I guess it doesn't come right out and
say that OSM isn't protected by US copyright (although I'd find it extremely
unlikely for such a definitive legal statement to be made even if it were
true).  It implies it, though, and says "full background can be read" at
http://www.osmfoundation.org/wiki/License/Why_CC_BY-SA_is_Unsuitable , which
in turn says "*Conclusion*: It is quite likely that OSM data is not
protected by U.S. (and other jurisdictions') copyright laws."  About as
definitive of a legal statement as you're likely to get for free.  I'm not
sure who the author of that conclusion was, though.  But the OSMF seemingly
endorsed it by linking to it for "full background".

Similarly I don't think Creative Commons have said that.  They have
> published
> opinions on what licences might be suitable for factual data, but they
> haven't
> made any pronouncement on the legal status of OSM data in particular.

You're probably right on that.  Again, I didn't read the license proposal
carefully enough, and while it makes the implication that CC made that
conclusion, presenting the CC statement: "In the United States, data will be
protected by copyright only if they express creativity." after "Creative
Commons themselves have said several times that CC BY-SA is not suitable for
OSM.", I now realize that this is misleading.

Good catch.
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