[OSM-talk] [Talk-us] OpenStreetMap Isn't All That Open, Let's Change That and Drop Share-Alike

Phil! Gold phil_g at pobox.com
Sat Mar 15 15:03:41 UTC 2014


* Alex Barth <alex at mapbox.com> [2014-03-13 10:26 -0400]:
> http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/lxbarth/diary/21221

This is really similar to the discussions that periodically happen in the
open source software community over whether share-alike licenses like the
GPL or open-use licenses like the 3-clause BSD license are better.

I usually end up on the side of share-alike for reasons best summed up by
a friend of mine who once said, "The GPL restricts your freedom to be
evil.  The BSD license doesn't."

I think that if your goal is to have as many people as possible using your
data, you're best off choosing open-use or public domain licensing.
(Richard Weait and I chose to go with CC0 and PDDL for the data in the
shield rendering so as to allow for as much variance of reuse as
possible.  Similarly, it makes sense for US federal government data,
because their mandate is to be as useful to US citizens as possible.)

If, however, you want to foster a community around a larger scale project,
I think share-alike is a better path to take.  If OSM switched to public
domain licensing today, there would almost certainly be more people using
and benefiting from today's OSM data.  Google in particular would probably
make OSM data part of its data; they already merge numerous public domain
datasets into their proprietary dataset.  That would make Google the
better choice for a lot of people than plain OSM data, and you can even
edit Google's data through their Map Maker program.  From there, I suspect
that Map Maker would attract more people that might otherwise have ended
up contributing to OSM, which would hurt community growth and benefit
Google at the expense of all the other OSM data consumers.

In my opinion, the single biggest thing that makes OSM valuable is the
community of people contributing to it, and the license on the data needs
to reinforce that community, not allow proprietary data uses to splinter
it.

-- 
...computer contrarian of the first order... / http://aperiodic.net/phil/
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