[OSM-talk] [Osmf-talk] Attribution guideline status update

Christoph Hormann osm at imagico.de
Mon Sep 9 10:08:35 UTC 2019

On Monday 09 September 2019, Simon Poole wrote:
> Kathleen has already touched on this, but one more time. In general
> the guidelines work as safe harbours, that is if somebody follows the
> guidelines in good faith they can assume that they are doing
> something we're reasonably happy with.

I am sorry but no, that is a complete distortion of the previous 
discussion.  I have been the one who called for guidelines which err on 
the side of caution and make recommendations for how data users can be 
sure they safely meet the license requirements.  Kathleen has rejected 
this approach by painting in dark colors various perceived 
disadvantages should the guidelines suggest anything that might not 
absolutely be necessary from the ODbL itself.

Existing guidelines allow a lot of things that are clearly not allowed 
by the ODbL itself in terms of share-alike (like the regional cuts 
concept for example).  They are clearly designed to err on the side of 
leniency for the data users.  This has been largely accepted by the 
community because it waives rights the OSMF would have under the ODbL 
in cases where insisting on them would have relatively little benefit 
for the project itself (although you could of course still argue that 
there would be benefit for the open geodata community in general).  But 
as a result today share-alike in the ODbL is essentially functionally 
dead.  There are still cases where share-alike is clearly required but 
almost everyone routes around them.  If you disagree please list cases 
where commercial OSM data users have published derivative databases.

Commercial data users (and i am unfairly generalizing here of course) 
have been answering this extreme generosity in a "Gib jemandem den 
kleinen Finger und er nimmt die ganze Hand" kind of way when it comes 
to attribution in particular.  That is to be expected from 
organizations whose main objective is to maximize short term profits at 
all costs.  You can be certain that the same approach will be taken 
with an attribution guideline.  Any loophole in the suggestions 
presented will be examined for the potential advantages it gives in the 
most excessive possible interpretation of the text.  

This is why i am strongly opposing the current draft because it pokes 
additional holes into the license while what it should do is putting a 
sign on aspects that might be perceived to be loopholes in the license 
itself with a clear message of: Here the safe terrain ends, we strongly 
suggest you don't go there if you don't want to get in legal trouble or 
potentially face the wrath of hundreds of thousands of OSM contributors 
and supporters.

Christoph Hormann

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