OpenStreetMap Foundation

Licensing Working Group

  Tuesday 9th July 2013

18:00 - 18:25 UTC

Agenda & Minutes


Present:  Oliver Kühn, Michael Collinson, Dermot McNally


Minutes by: Michael

1. Adoption of Minutes of last meeting (25th June)

Note: This editable minute link is for LWG members only. A public version is normally available at

Proposed: Oliver

Seconded: Dermot



2. MATTERS ARISING (open action items from previous meetings)

  • Mike to contact Henk re Apple situation (done)
  • Mike will copy the 7th May minutes text on data verification to our formal FAQ (done 25th June)
  • MapBox "attribution mark" proposal
  • Simon: talk to legal counsel: replace of the credit “© OpenStreetMap contributors” or similar with a visual mark - is this “legally” valid? (done - awaiting response)
  • Mike Contact UK Ordnance Survey Legal re potential confict with “OSMM” ?OS Master Map? trademark (done - awaiting response)
  • Mike - email 25th June LWG opinion on publishing “PD users” to the board (done 2013-06-25.
  • Simon: Ask MapBox precisely how geocoding would be used in the Foursquare situation.

3. Finalise today's agenda

4. Trademark Registration (Simon)

Not discussed, Simon not present.

5. Conforming maps to “legal” and nationalistic requirements

Final review of proposed policy doc 

The document is now formally entitled, “Information for officials and diplomats of countries and entities with disputed territories”. Simon improved the preamble text for clarity via email and during the meeting we considered and clarified each “OpenStreetMap” reference to mean either the database itself (not a human entity), the community or the foundation.

We agreed that it was now ready for Mike to send to the board as our proposal for their consideration. As we were only 3 in the meeting, Mike will additionally get Simon’s formal consensus before doing that.

6. Community Guidelines/Norms

We have two well-formulated guidelines, three immature ones and the issue of “Geocoding” which might be resolved by an additional guideline.

Oliver proposed formalising a process for generating these.

We decided to start by documenting the process as it stands right now so that it can be refined and improved to get better traction:

Background: Open licenses, in our case the ODbL, are general licenses and are silent on very specific domain issues. In our case, the domain is geodata. This can mean that potential users of our data can be put off use as they feel such use is in a grey area on which it is difficult to get a straight answer on.  A practical example is what qualifies as a “substantial extraction”, (European Database Directive), when extracting data from OpenStreetMap?  The Foundation cannot make formal interpretations of the ODbL nor the European Database Directive since it is not the author.

The concept: To address this, the LWG came up with the concept of Community Guidelines during the license change process in response to specific use cases. [OpenDataCommons also has a broadly parallel process called Community Norms].  

  • Our understanding from legal counsel is that if the publisher makes public statements then these can be taken into account by a judge in an IP case.  There is no onus on a judge to do so, but it is frequent.
  • If the Foundation makes such statements, it also serves to indicate what we would be happy or not happy with, and therefore likely or not likely to pursue and therefore giving data users confidence.
  • However, the Foundation’s mission is to support but not control OpenStreetMap. OSMF's role as Licensor and publisher of the database should not involve dictating policy.
  • So, the OSM Community evolves a consensus over certain issues over time and produces a guideline (not the same as a definition, that is up to case precedent). The OSMF will then normally adopt that guideline as its official policy and allow it to incrementally improve or clarify over time.

The process as it stands today:

  • An issue is identified and bumped to the LWG.
  • LWG attempts to resolve categorically by referring to the ODbL and/or seeking legal advice.
  • In cases where it cannot, it evolves a strawman text, (a proposal deliberately made to provoke serious discussion, resulting in a much better version).
  • Discussion on legal-talk mailing list.
  • Evolution of text on the above wiki link with open community editing.
  • (no process for formal acknowledgement by Foundation)

Other notes:

  • We welcome strawman proposals from interested parties, since they are motivated and know the issues ... provided that they accept that the community may say yes, modify or plain shoot down.


7. AOB


Next Meeting:

Tuesday 23rd July at 18:00 GMT/UTC (may clash with Management Team meeting)