Surely now is the moment for OpenStreetMap to accelerate adoption, usage and uptake? But why hasn’t this already happened? Why hasn’t the geospatial world run lovingly into OSM’s arms?
Gary Gale published an interesting article on removing SA clause from our license (actually, the major part was about business-friendly face, but you know the principle: want it? go do it). We've heard it before, from Mapbox. As Richard points out, that won't happen any time soon, because there is clearly less than 2/3 of active contributors supporting the idea.
And these opinions strike me as lacking an understanding of OpenStreetMap project. Are we mapping for PNDs? Yes. Are we mapping for commercial companies? Of course. Would we like a thousand more commercial users promoting OSM by simply using it? Yes, go ahead. What? They cannot do that right now?
Well, we can wait. That what distinguishes us from other map data providers: we can really wait. OpenStreetMap is slow, but unstoppable. Mapbox and other businesses have immediate tasks, and for that they need a fast reaction from OSM. But OSM isn't fast. The last license change took 3 years. That's just a bit less than Mapbox has existed. Some think that because we make maps for crisis areas so fast, we are very responsive – but we are not. And it is good.
What I like in OSM, is that it is not going anywhere. Businesses appear and go bankrupt or sold, new datasets are published and then forgotten, but nothing ever can happen with OpenStreetMap. The question is, what will happen if we wait 50 years? I can bet a hundred bucks I'll still be mapping my town in OSM when I'm retired, but will Mapbox, HERE, Google, Yandex, TomTom exist? If we are to act right now, what good will it do to our project in a scope of 50 years? On that scale, publishing a new tagging proposal seems more important that changing a license, just so that some more businesses and government organizations could use our data without having to change their ways. Tags will remain, organizations – not so sure.
And that's why I think a share-alike license is perfect for our project – at least until another popular mapping project appears with a more open license. If we are starting to look good for businesses, look ahead 50 years and think, why we should adapt to their needs, and not vice-versa.
Of course, we can start thinking about changing the license, but don't expect a reaction in the nearest 10 years. Not at least until we've updated our API.