[OSM-talk] License plan

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Fri Feb 27 18:00:31 GMT 2009

Donald Allwright wrote:
>>Even in the UK, which follows the "sweat of the brow" principle (i.e.
>>can be gained through effort even without creativity), such effort needs
>>be significant.
> Sorry I meant to add at the end of my previous email - what I was saying
> is that 
> tracing of satellite imagery can be significantly non-negligible, and
> often needs 
> to be quite creative too. You try telling the difference between a lake
> and the 
> shadow of a cloud on a very dark satellite image for example! Also, you
> have to 
> make judgements as to where a lake or river ends and the land starts -
> it's not 
> a simple case of where this is water, as that depends on the season,
> amount 
> of rain and other factors.

Sure. And the law is just as ill-defined!

I think it's pretty unarguable that, in the UK, your tracing of the Peruvian
lakes would merit copyright or similar protection (as "sweat-of-the-brow").

I think it's also unarguable that if I trace eight streets in a city, then
in the US, that doesn't merit any copyright protection. I _suspect_ your
Peruvian lakes wouldn't, either, but IANAL and so on.

Between that is shades of grey. Extensive, skilled tracing, which can't
simply be learned in an hour or two, assessed in sweat-of-the-brow
jurisidictions: yes, there's probably some rights in there. Everything else
is much less likely. Really do need to get away from thinking "copyright
applies to everything we do". If that was the case then CC-BY-SA wouldn't be
so unsuitable.

I'm not knocking Yahoo tracing - it's not something I personally have any
interest in, but then I've spent hours upon hours upon hours tracing from
NPE which is roughly comparable. FWIW (as the owner of the NPE scans) I
don't make any restriction on people tracing from my maps - not just because
I believe in open data, but also because I don't think I'd have the legal
right to even if I wanted. Broadly the same applies to why we're allowed to
trace from Yahoo imagery. "Non-copyrightable" doesn't mean "worthless"!

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