Licence/Historic/We Are Changing The License
We Are Changing The License
OpenStreetMap creates and provides free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The project was started because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive, or unexpected ways.
OpenStreetMap is asking existing contributors to re-license their contributions under the Open Database License 1.0. For those not familiar, this page explains the basic reasons and provides links to further resources with more detail.
Why do we have a license?
Our goal is to provide geographic data that is free and open to all to use. To make sure that your contributions are provided free and open, and remain free and open, we have a license that says that.
What license is being changed?
We want to change the current CC-BY-SA 2.0 to Open Database License (OdbL) 1.0.
The license that covers the contributed geodata (nodes, ways, relations) and the GPX traces that you upload. That is, anything that is in the Postgresql database and which we explicitly publish, like planet.osm.
Map tiles will no longer be covered, explained below.
The change does not cover the wiki which will remain CC BY-SA. It does not cover software and software source code, which are usually but not always GPL (GNU Public License).
Why are we changing the license?
Our current user license is Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0. It for not designed for data and the creators of the license state, "Creative Commons does not recommend using Creative Commons licenses for informational databases, such as educational or scientific databases.".
The main issues for the OpenStreetMap project are:
- The current license uses only copyright law. This clearly protects creative works such as written documents, pictures and photos. It does not clearly protect data, particularly in the US.
- The current license is not written for data and databases. It is therefore very difficult to interpret. If someone uses your data in a map in a book and the map has several layers, what should be the placed under CC-BY-SA. Just the OpenStreetMap layer and any enhancements? The whole map, including any unconnected layers and markers? The whole book?
- It is difficult or impossible to ask questions about what can and cannot be done, as this means asking all the thousands of contributors individually to give their permission.
- This means that “good guys” are stopped from using our data but the “bad guys” may be able to use it anyway.
- It is difficult or impossible for folks to mix our data with data under other licenses.
You can read more here: http://www.osmfoundation.org/wiki/License/Why_CC_BY-SA_is_Unsuitable
Have other options been considered?
Yes. There are three main options. Which option you personally support depends on how what "free and open" means to you. We believe that a reasonable consensus has been built that our current progress should be to maintain a Share-Alike license (see more below) but have it written explicitly for data.
The new Contributor Terms also contains a section that allows you or future mappers to participate in changing the license provided that you maintain an active interest.
1. Use a “Public Domain” license
Putting something in the Public Domain means letting anyone do anything they like with the data without any permissions needed and without any restrictions at all. It is not possible to do this in many countries so instead a license saying the same thing can be used. Creative Commons recommend CC0 http://wiki.creativecommons.org/CC0_FAQ . A Public Domain license has no Share-Alike provision, meaning that anyone can mix and match their own data with OpenStreetMap data without making it available for free public use. Public Domain license are very short and easy for anyone to understand.
A large section of the OpenStreetMap community would like to switch to a “Public Domain” license.
However, a significant proportion of contributors are vehemently opposed to this and we would like to keep the project unified. There is also a fear that large organisations could take the data and release a better product that ours. This fear may or may not be true, but if we go Public Domain, it would very difficult to reverse course.
We therefore ask you to accept a change to a license that is still Share-Alike but specifically written for databases and may better address concerns that you have. You will have the opportunity to tick a box that says you prefer "Public Domain". The new Contributor Terms also has an explicit mechanism for a 2/3 majority of active contributors to make changes to the license in the future.
2. Another Share-Alike license written for data. There isn't one. The Open Database License is the only one that is well developed. OpenStreetMap is the pioneer here.
3. Stay with the current license. Some of the community would like us to stay with the current license, arguing that the vague nature is good thing. It forces extremely strong Share-Alike provisions even if it stops many projects using our data. They also point out that ODbL is unproven, OpenStreetMap will be the first big user and that it is longer and more complexly written than the existing license.
You can read more on community reaction for and against the OdbL license here:
What are the main differences between the old and the new license?
The old license is written for creative works such as text and photos. The new license is specifically written for data and databases.
The old license attempts to protect data using copyright law only. The new license attempts to protect data using copyright law, contract law and database rights. The protection offered by each varies around the world. Database rights, for example, are applicable in Europe but not in the USA.
Both licenses are “By Attribution” and “Share Alike”. You can read more about what these terms mean here: http://www.osmfoundation.org/wiki/License
However, there is one big Share-Alike difference between the old and new license. In the old license, if someone makes a map then they have to share the map under the same license, but they do not have to directly share any data they used to make the map. Under the new license, they can put a map under any license they like, provided that they share any data enhancements they have made to our data. The main reason for this is that maps can now be made with layers from incompatible data sources.
In the old license, any question about the license would have to be asked to thousands of contributors. Under the new license, the Foundation is allowed by you to publish the complete dataset as a single licensor. If there is doubt whether OpenStreetMap data can be used for a particular project, the Foundation can be asked if it objects or not. The Foundation has set up a process called "Community Guidelines" to make sure that contributors are consulted and can help define any response made.
Can I trust the OpenStreetMap Foundation ?
The Foundation is "dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data and to providing geospatial data for anybody to use and share.", ( http://www.osmfoundation.org ).
But what happens if the Foundation is taken over by people with commercial interests?
- You still own the rights to any data you contribute, not the Foundation. In the new Contributor Terms, you license the Foundation to publish the data for others to use and ONLY under a free and open license.
- The Foundation is not allowed to take the data and release it under a commercial license.
- If the Foundation fails to publish under only a free and open license, it has broken its contract with you. A copy of the existing data can be made and released by a different body.
- If a change is made to another free and open license, it is active contributors who decide yes or no, not the Foundation.