[OSM-talk] We need to have a conversation about attribution
richard at systemeD.net
Thu Feb 28 22:35:45 UTC 2019
In recent years some OSM data consumers and "OSM as a service" providers
have begun to put the credit to OpenStreetMap behind an click-through
'About', 'Credits', 'Legal' or '(i)' link. Examples:
(This should be obvious but I am in no means meaning to pick on Mapbox
or Apple here - as anyone who knows me will testify, I have the utmost
respect both for Mapbox's technical chops, their ability to iterate on a
compelling product and their success in building the biggest mapping
platform using OSM data; and I've been an Apple fanboy since my first
Mac IIsi back in, erk, 1992. They're just the two that sprang to mind,
bearing in mind that as someone that old, these social networks about
photos and stuff are way too modern for me.)
It should also be said that many providers - the majority - provide
attribution in compliance with our policy at osm.org/copyright, i.e.
showing attribution in the corner of the map, and in many cases
generously going beyond with "Improve this map" pages; and that some
providers will do great things like this much of the time and resort to
"(i)" or "About" only part of the time.
The policy, introduced with the changeover to the ODbL, says:
"We require that you use the credit “© OpenStreetMap contributors”...
For a browsable electronic map, the credit should appear in the corner
of the map."
There then follows an example screenshot of a map of Charlbury (woo)
with a credit in the corner. The OSM Foundation Legal FAQ is pretty much
Historically the aim of requiring attribution has been partly to thank
contributors, and partly because it's a virtuous feedback loop. If you
see a map and it's wrong or incomplete, seeing "(c) OpenStreetMap" in
the corner shows you where the data comes from, so you can go and
improve it. That way we get more contributors, the map gets better, it's
more valuable to its consumers, so more people use it, so more people
improve it... and so on.
The legal rationale is 4.3 in the Open Database Licence
(https://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/1.0/index.html), and in
particular "if you Publicly Use a Produced Work, You must include a
notice associated with the Produced Work reasonably calculated to make
any Person that uses, views, accesses, interacts with, or is otherwise
exposed to the Produced Work aware that Content was obtained from the
Database". The key phrase is "reasonably calculated" and our view in
2012 was that, since the major mapping providers (Google,
Navteq/Nokia/HERE, TomTom etc.) required and implemented on-screen
attribution, "reasonably" meant that users would expect a credit to be
provided in that way. The OSMF FAQ makes this explicit: "you should
expect to credit OpenStreetMap in the same way and with the same
prominence as would be expected by any other map supplier".
Full mea culpa: the /copyright page says "should" rather than "must"
purely because I wrote the page, I'm British and I, we, talk like that
especially the "I would suggest" line). It used to say "request" rather
than "require" for the same reason. In retrospect I should have realised
not everyone is British and we should really have hired a lawyer to
review the page. I think that months in the trenches of the licence
change had probably given us trench fever for things like that. Entirely
my fault and I take full responsibility for it (but you know, it's so
great not to have to write 500 monthly mails to legal-talk@ any more).
So we need to decide what our response is to web/in-app maps that do not
provide attribution in the manner requested by osm.org/copyright. This
response might be:
a) we are happy for attribution to be behind a credits screen and we
will update our requirements to say so
b) we will informally tolerate attribution being behind a credits screen
but we do not intend to update our requirements
c) we are not happy for attribution to be behind a credits screen and we
will update our requirements to say so
d) we are not happy for attribution to be behind a credits screen and we
will update our requirements to say so, and we will proactively seek out
data consumers that contravene these requirements
e) or many other options... fill in your suggestion here :)
Ultimately this decision has to come from the community. The rights in
OSM data, as the Contributor Terms makes clear, are held by the
contributors. OSMF is "using and sublicensing" it, under the terms that
you grant to OSMF, but you own the rights. OSMF is not able to license
away the rights of mappers.
There has been a lot of chatter over recent years about this issue but
the issue has never really broken through. Let's talk about it openly,
honestly and respectfully and get it sorted out for the benefit of both
mappers and data consumers.
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