[cc-licenses] Version 3.0 - List Discussion Responses

Philip Hands phil at hands.com
Mon Oct 2 06:31:06 EDT 2006


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The discussion of DRM issues seems to have been focused on largely
hypothetical future scenarios, so perhaps I should mention one where a
current user of CC-sa is being pointlessly restricted by the lack of a
permission for parallel distribution (or would be if they were bothering to
take any notice of that bit of the license, which they're not).

openstreetmap.org (OSM) is a project that is assembling a wiki style map of
the world from various free sources, largely individual GPS traces.  The
resulting geo-data is licensed under CC-sa 2.0.

One of the project members has described a way of converting OSM data into
a format that can be loaded onto Garmin GPS units:

  http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/index.php/OSM_Map_On_Garmin

This allows people to then go out mapping and instantly see places that are
missing from the OSM data, thus massively improving the efficiency of
adding to the OSM geo-data.

Unfortunately, this relies on a program, cgpsmapper, that has license terms
that insist that the output be for non-commercial use only:

  http://www.cgpsmapper.com/download/licence.txt

Given that that imposes extra conditions not already in CC-sa, I assume
that this renders the resulting data undistributable due to violation of
the CC-sa license terms.

Despite that, you can see that the middle of the first page linked to above
contains a reference to such copyright violating material
(http://brainoff.com/osm/garmin/osm2.mp) so one assumes that OSM is
perfectly happy with this situation.

To me, it would be pretty much insane for them not to be, because the data
is available in parallel, and the output format from cgpsmapper is pretty
useless for doing subsequent derivation, so it's not as though it matters
that it's now under a more restrictive license.

This strikes me as a very similar scenario to that which would occur if
cgpsmapper were a DRM generation program, and Garmin GPS units would only
accept DRMed map data.

It also strikes me as rather similar to doing some sort of lossy
compression on a music track to put it on one's phone -- the lossy version
is not the one you want to work with if you wanted to sample it for some
other work, it's the pre-lossy-compression version that you'll be after, in
which case a clause that allowed for parallel distribution would actually
be more helpful that one that kept the music off of DRMed phones.

In fact, the combination of anti-DRM clause and parallel distribution
almost means that it would be better if the lossy version _was_ DRM
encumbered, because that would then force publication of the original.

The lack of a parallel distribution permission seems to fly in the face of
common sense (which I presume is why the OSM folks appear not to have
noticed this problem -- I'll mention it to them).

Perhaps if you're going to insist on keeping it that way, you should have a
prominent health warning saying that these CC licenses should not be used
by anyone that thinks that their works should be allowed to be used in a
"write-only" scenario (be it rendering into a DRM format, writing it to a
Garmin only format under a dodgy license, or even loading it onto a music
player that doesn't allow it to be read back out again -- I presume that
also counts as a technological measure to prevent copying), despite the
presence of a readable copy (possibly in a much more usable format than was
going onto the device).

Cheers, Phil.

P.S. I'm fairly new to the examination of CC licenses, so it's entirely
possible that I've misunderstood their implications correctly -- feel free
to set me right in that case.
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