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OpenStreetMap's point of no return

Jan 21, 2011, 16:34 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"Back in 2008, LWN reported on the OpenStreetMap project and its plan to change the licensing of its map database. This change was controversial, to say the least, but the project as a whole appeared to be determined to press forward with it. At the beginning of 2011, the license change has not yet happened. But it has now been determined that April 1 of this year will be an important milestone date in this process. This could be interesting to watch, as the project is still not entirely sure of what it is changing to.

"The new license - the Open Database License (ODBL) - is well understood. The ODBL is an attempt to stretch European-style database rights to the point where they cover the database worldwide. To that end, the ODBL is explicitly written as a contract - a crucial difference from most free licenses, which try to avoid contract law entirely. The ODBL must take this approach because the OpenStreetMap database, being primarily factual in nature, is not easily covered by copyright. A license which relied strictly upon copyright law would risk being unenforceable in much of the world."

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