OpenStreetMap

A sensible proposal

Posted by Unusual User Name on 20 December 2011 in English (English)

I found a post over on legal-talk, “A gradual transition to ODbL” that I think is a very sensible proposal, which so far has no responses to it.

http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/legal-talk/2011-December/006789.html

I imagine if you’re reading this diary you’re aware of the license change over date of 1 April, and the accompanying loss of data that will involve. You might even be aware that at a worldwide level it’s only a few percent of the database that will be expunged. There’s a short history as a footnote below if you’re not aware of this.

But for Australia, Poland, many regions of Germany, and another dozen or so countries there is a very real risk that large chunks of data will be lost in the license changeover. For details see here http://odbl.poole.ch/. But even if your country looks relatively safe, there are probably regions or towns that are at risk of being badly affected.

Re-mapping, for example, Australia by 1st April, is just not possible, I’ve been busting a gut doing my share and it can’t be done. There is an outside chance that some licensing issues can be resolved and rejectors coaxed to sign up, but I wouldn’t be banking on it. I wouldn’t base my future plans around it.

You could well say re-map before it goes, re-map after it’s gone, same difference. But that’s ignoring the psychological aspect. There are lots of mappers out there who probably have only the vaguest idea that a license change process is happening, and hardly imagine that it will have any real impact on them. When they log on after 1st April (depending where they are) they are going to be disillusioned at the data loss in their area and quite possibly discontinue mapping.

But it’s not just about mapper’s feelings, it’s also about the people that use the data for mapping and navigation. If they see a data loss, they’re going to go running to FOSM or a commercial provider. When you get down to it, OSM is about the provision of free and quality data. That’s why I joined up.

This all brings me to some questions which readers might like to answer.

Is the proposal on legal-talk reasonable? (and why do you think that?)

Do you think I’m paranoid and that data loss will be insignificant come 1st April?

If you think the data loss doesn’t matter, why?

Short history: The original contributor terms (CTs) licensed all contributions as CC and didn’t allow for the license to be changed. The new CTs allow the license to be changed by a 2/3rds vote of active mappers. There was a whole lot of argy-bargy over CC vs Odbl licensing, which is why a number of mappers rejected the new CTs. But the important thing for OSM to be viable in the future is it needs to be able to change the license if and when changing conditions demand.

Comment from chriscf on 22 December 2011 at 17:30

The data loss is not a major problem. We'll lose data, and eventually we'll regain better data. We started from literally nothing, and now we have billions of nodes and millions of ways. The project is now seven years old. Maybe in another seven years we'll have data even better than what we now lose.

My only concern with the proposal is that it delays things even further, and extends the period of uncertainty beyond what will already have been around five years by April 2012.

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