OSMF Selling Data to Google?

Posted by Omnific on 9 April 2017 in English (English)

It's odd that this hasn't generated any discussion:

If OSMF is truly planning to implement such a deal wherein Google gets to copy useful data in exchange for funds, I would certainly stop contributing. The price tag is almost certainly a pittance (a few million per year, probably) compared to the value of all that local data, and given that Google spends billions on map data per year. This is counter to the entire reason I contribute to OSM. If this goes through, I might as well contribute directly to Google's commercial maps. And the stipend idea is hilarious and almost an insult, as it will likely be pennies per hour.


Comment from chillly on 9 April 2017 at 17:07

Did you check the data of the article?

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Comment from ff5722 on 9 April 2017 at 21:45

The thing is that Google can use OSM data without paying a penny, so if this were true, it would even be generous to give back.

In fact, Chinese Baidu maps already uses OSM data, meanwhile it is technically prohibited to contribute to OSM in China 🙄

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Comment from SimonPoole on 10 April 2017 at 08:14

As the April fools joke obviously has created some real concern, a couple of clarifications:

  • google can use OSM data on the same terms as anybody else and the only thing stopping them are there own strategy product marketing considerations and as anybody else they would just have to abide by the licence. There definitely would be no obligation to compensate anybody for such use. With other words, there is actually no reason that anybody would have to take the trouble to create such a subterfuge.

  • while the presented construct for getting around the contributor terms and the licence is quite elaborate, it doesn't actually work that way. Forks have to continue to be distributed on the licence terms that the forked copy was originally obtained on. The OSMF itself is bound by the CTs to only distribute, or use, the data on terms of the licences approved by the community, that includes making copies/forks, to which the CTs do -not- apply. We have actually discussed if the OSMF even has the freedom to licence Produced Works on any compatible terms, a freedom we afford every other user of OSM data.


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Comment from Omnific on 10 April 2017 at 16:28

They definitely got me!

I was not expecting that from the typically very serious OSM community.

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Comment from Verdy_p on 16 April 2017 at 12:08

I also agree that nothing forbids Google supporting out project by giving money, but it won't be for a commercial contract wiht exclusive rights. It will be like other donations, only because Google supports out common project, but it won't take more advantage than other OSM contributors.

As well Google may join the OSM foundation, like any other members, if it agrees with the existing membership status and terms.

Google can also help us develop applications, or can also contribute by offering hardware servers, or hosting (with a long enough contract warrantied for at least a couple of years, and renewed at least one year in advance).

Google also has the right to use our data, provided it gives correct attribution. Google can also develop its own renderer (but will have problkems if its renderer mixes our open data with the proprietary data protected by Google or by tits contractual providers;

What is said here about Google remains equally true for Apple, Microsoft/Bing/Yahoo, Facebook, or other large non-US companies like Vodafone, Orange or any foreign government, or any NGO...

Also true for Baidu and other P.R.Chinese (the problem with Baidu is about geographic data in P.R. China itself, except Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan, where accurate WGS84 data is legally forbidden and has to be replaced by the Chinese proprietary "devil's transform" when GPS/WGS84 coordinates are transformed using non-linear equations that are not easily reversible... But Baidu has a separate service in mainland China and elsewhere, just like most other international companies selling cartographic services and GPS devices (also modified in China to use crypotographically modified coordinates, that are not completley interoperable with the rest of the world).

Note that the conversion from GPS/WGS84 to the Chinese projection is extremely easy (so worldwide maps can be easily produced in the Chinese projection, but the reverse is not so easy (and legally forbidden) to produce accurate maps of China in our common WGS84 projection or other international cartographic or geodesic transforms. But this transform is not unique: different Chinese providers generate different pseudo-randomized coordinates and it seems that the Chinese "devil's transform" includes specific parameters for authorized sellers of solutions, so these Chinese transforms are not interoperable and form a set of multiple closed proprietary systems (where also the Chinese government authorization includes an exclusive rights for Chiense authorities to force the solution providers to alter or remove any data that Chinese authorities don't like in the data made legally available on mainland China.

So in OSM we have no way to generate accurate map, we can only produce approximations and we cannot get legal support from local Chinese contributors (including foreign people visiting China which can be jailed or fined by Chinese courts, or ejected manu-military from the country). This does not concern only Chinese companies but even Apple, Google, Microsoft and others have accepted to follow the Chinese rules in the services they offer in mainlnad China, which are necessarily diferent from those in the rest of the world: we cannot accept theese rules in OSM because we cannot given primary provileges to the Chinese government over the rest of the worldwide OSM community. As well we cannot accept that OSM would get the (costly) licence for using the "devil's" transform required by Chinese authorities.

This does not mean that we cannot map China, but that the precision of data we can bring in OSM for that territory will remain severaly limited (with exact locations unknown with errors ranging up to 700 meters away and no way to synchronnize them with different contributors)

If we want to provide a map for Chinese users, this cannot be done with a local OSM chapter in Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan, but we would need a specific "chapter" in Beijing/Shangai to support and generate a derived database using the Chinese transform, but that database will be constantly subject ot alterations and removals by Chinese authorities and we won't be able to reuse these derived data, so that chapter would not conform to our rules. It's simply impossible to accept such chapter (we can only accept chapters in HongKong/Macau/Taiwan working with international standard projections for correctly mapping their local territory, but not mainland China).

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