Getting Accept / Decline licence screen on logon today *PART2*

Posted by netman55 on 3 May 2011 in English (English)

Interesting comments to my last few diary entries, thanks to those who took the time to do this.

My main focus with OSM is to just get mapping done of my area to help a project I have been planning for a long time which, in part, will use maps to convey content.

So when I originally came across OSM some 4 years ago, it suited my needs and seemed to be a reasonable candidate to invest my free time and effort and at the same time enable me to contribute to another “open” community of individuals, which I have done in the past and still do, on other open projects including open source projects.

However, the new contributor terms have become a show-stopper for me contributing further map data after the terms become compulsory, in particular the following:

“You hereby grant to OSMF a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable licence to do any act that is restricted by copyright, database right or any related right over anything within the Contents, whether in the original medium or any other. These rights explicitly include commercial use, and do not exclude any field of endeavour. These rights include, without limitation, the right to sub-license the work through multiple tiers of sub-licensees and to sue for any copyright violation directly connected with OSMF's rights under these terms. To the extent allowable under applicable local laws and copyright conventions, You also waive and/or agree not to assert against OSMF or its licensees any moral rights that You may have in the Contents. “

To me, this means in effect giving shared ownership of my data to a limited company. You simply cannot predict where or what that company will be in 2, 5, or 10 years time.

I suggest taking a look at the OSMF Memorandum of Association at

The key problem area for me is items 7, 8.1, 8.2.

“7. If the Company is wound up while a person is a member or within one year after that person ceases to be a member, every member of the Company will contribute such amount as may be required (not exceeding £5) to the assets of the Company, for payment of the Company’s debts and liabilities accrued before the member ceases to be a member, and of the costs and expenses of winding up, and for the adjustment of the rights of the members among themselves.
If on the winding up or dissolution of the Company there remains any surplus property after satisfaction of the Company’s debts and liabilities, the surplus shall not be paid to the members of the Company, but shall be either:
8.1 given or transferred to some other institution or institutions having objects similar to the objects of the Company; or
8.2 If no such payment is possible, any surplus shall be applied to a charitable object. In each case, the recipient body or bodies shall be chosen by the members as at the date of winding up or dissolution. “

So most contributors won't have a say where their rights they granted to OSMF will go. Items 8.1/8.2 look cosy in that property (which would include Rights ) would hopefully go to a good cause, that is not certain however. The main danger is however is in item 7. The second paragraph talks about surplus's and how that would hopefully be handled in 8.1/8.2, but the main reason why companies are wound up is because that they are insolvent i.e they have debt. Item 7 does not detail what will happen then. Well let me pass on some experience of some my friends who are or have been Directors/MD's of companies that have faced insolvency from unexpected forces outside the control of the company. If an administrator/ liquidator is appointed, it is their duty to realise any monetary value in a company and that would include any Rights by that company, to pay creditors.

Therefore, if I sign up to the new CT's there is a risk that those rights I grant to OSMF may be sold to a commercial enterprise. I did not start contributing to OSM with many hours of free time and effort to potentially fill the coffers of a commercial organisation.

I'm not too keen on item 4.5 (in the MoA) either ( supporting wives / family of OSMF etc, etc) but that's a different story, my main issue is item 7 above.

In short while I am likely to be stopped editing OSM any more, which is a shame, as I have enjoyed what I have done to date and it will be interesting to see how they will delete my data without deleting contributors data, who have accepted the new terms, which is mixed with mine.

To all who have decided to accept the new terms I wish you well, but please do keep an eye on what OSMF get up to with your data.

Comment from asciiphil on 3 May 2011 at 14:13

Personally, I'm not too concerned about this.

First off, OSM data can be used (and is being used right now) to fill the coffers of commercial organizations. If you disagree with that, I can't argue with it, but there's no difference there between the current state of affairs and a hypothetical dissolution of OSMF.

Now, it could happen that someone could buy the OSM database in bankruptcy proceedings and then close the dataset: cease publishing planet.osm files and make changes to the data that would never be published. But we would still have the last dataset from before the sale, and the license terms (CC-BY-SA, ODbL, or whatever) would still apply to that data. Nothing would be lost except the future usefulness of the data (assuming no one else forked it and kept going, and I think in those circumstances, someone would do so).

I suppose the worst case would be if someone bought the OSM data rights and tried to keep the community contributions coming in but under a more restrictive data license (like Google's, say). That would probably fall under the view that your contributions were helping to perpetuate an environment of more closed data. My personal comfort when considering such a possibility is that I think large portions of the community, particularly the heaviest contributors, would abandon such a project, leaving it effectively the same as the data dead-end I described above--the new owner gets to use the data, the same as any company can now; we still have the last unencumbered data release; we all lose a future of updates to the data unless someone makes a fork.

If you don't want to contribute further to the project, I can understand that, but the prospect of losing data (which we would if you reject the new CTs) in what I see as a vibrant open data project makes me sad.

Comment from Andy Allan on 3 May 2011 at 14:18

Your quote from the Contributor Terms is a false quote, since you've chosen to remove some words from the start of the first sentence that you are quoting. Funnily enough, these extra words are there for good reason. By removing important words from the CTs you can make them say all kinds of different things, you know.

As for the memorandum of association stuff, that's a different issue. Given that they are a) boilerplate and b) currently under review anyway, I don't see why it's such a big deal to stop you from contributing to OpenStreetMap. Instead it would be nice if you joined in with the OSMF working group that's looking into the MoA and lend a hand, how about it?

Comment from seav on 3 May 2011 at 14:23

And your concern is the reason why the CT does not *only* contain the section you quoted. The CT *also* includes material that the published OSM database can only be under CC-BY-SA 2.0 or ODbL+DbCL (or another suitably open license that active contributors can vote on).

IANAL, but this means that the OSM database can never be proprietary. In your hypothetical example of OSMF dissolving, the CT is likely to be dissolved as well and nobody gains any rights over the database without also gaining the responsibilities (that is, maintaining the "openness" of the OSM database).

Anyway, the OSMF Strategic Working Group currently is going through the Articles of Association (and presumably, the Memorandum as well) and it might be a simple matter to add a clause or something to make it explicit that the data rights conferred to OSMF via the CT cannot be given as proprietary rights to a successor in case of dissolution.

Comment from Richard on 3 May 2011 at 14:39

Interesting post, but I can't find any common ground with your last statement: "please do keep an eye on what OSMF get up to with your data".

The mapping I have done for OSM isn't my data. I gave it to the community, to everyone. That, to me, is what "Open" means.

Comment from c2r on 3 May 2011 at 21:28

Select that you would like contributions to go to the public domain. Then everyone gets the data with no strings attached. Much better for the good of the world...

Comment from chriscf on 4 May 2011 at 20:45

Nonsense. The rights you are granting (not transferring, remember) may make them seem like effective owners, the administrator cannot dispose of assets the company merely "effectively owns". If they don't actually own it, he can't sell it.

I'd also echo Richard's sentiments above.

Comment from Rovastar on 6 May 2011 at 01:37

Thanks for letting us know.
I will now delete and recreate in my own way your data when I see it.

Comment from sdoerr on 21 June 2011 at 12:43

Have you changed your mind and accepted the CTs?


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