So: CC-BY-SA was not the right license choice.
Basically it all started in 2007 at a state of the map conference. During a panel, it became clear that the current license wasn’t good.
(I’m omitting the rest of this part; in the end Frederik told it to lay to rest some rumour that it would be a microsoft plot...)
More or less a share-alike license for databases (Datenbank). It builds upon copyright, database law and contract law. It has the notion of “produced works” that are not data sets themselves (like art or rendered maps in books). New databases should be ODbL.
The contract law part: that’s the contributor terms. They allow the OSM foundation to distribute the data that a mapper adds. The OSMF promises to mention the name. Both promise not to sue each other.
The mapper still has the copyright. The only thing the contributer terms gives the OSMF a very limited right to distribute: there’s no transfer of copyright!
“The ODbL is the best share-alike license for databases”.
There’s a time table. We’re almost at the point that you’re only able to edit if you have indicated whether or not you accepted the new license (this or next week). In the next phase, you can only edit if you have said “yes” (probably july 2011). In the last phase, the database will be officially archived. All data from users that accepted the license will be copied over to the new database with the new license (probably 2012). The old database will still be available under CC-BY-SA.
A problem is that switching over will irritate some people. Irritating people is the hard part. The bits of missing data won’t be the real problem.
Number one: respect the decision made by people that choose differently from you.
There is valid critisism.
The new license is really better.
Not everybody has to become a license expert. There are also much bigger remaining problems in open street map that are worthy of our time investment. So perhaps the re-licensing is not such a big deal (relatively) that is sometimes made of it.
An option for people that are critical: participate. The OSM foundation has the right to clarify terms and specify them further if they’re unclear. That’s one of the things allowed under the new license. You can help deciding.
My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.
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