Friday, April 02, 2010

The unhelpful #Wikimedia #OpenStreetMap discussion

The ongoing discussion on the Foundation-l mailing list is totally unhelpful. It starts with the observation that maps are not attributed in the same way as texts. It then asserts that all geo data in Wikipedia is unusable in OpenStreetMap. The discussion is unlikely to lead to a result as many fixed positions have not been opened for discussion.

There are several nits to pick:
  • these are amateurs lawyers killing cooperation between two major open content projects
  • no credible sources have been provided to support such broad statements
  • no lawyers support any of the positions taken by either side
  • my impression that FUD is the basis of much of this copyright / licensing paranoia
For a long time there have been moves towards integrating OpenStreetMap in our Wikipedias. Several developers have spend a lot of time making this happen, servers to host maps were bought by the German chapter. We are at a stage where we should talk about what we can do, not a stage where we find that we cannot work together after all.

What we need is to learn the real situation. We need to learn what we can do. When maps cannot be used because they should not be available under a free license in Wikipedia, we have a process of dealing with this.

It is not acceptable for this sorry situation to continue. It is not only in the interest of the Wikimedia Foundation and the OpenStreetMap Foundation but in the interest of the open content world that this storm in a tea cup ends. Both projects provide their data under the CC-by-sa license and we are stronger when we are seen to work together.

In previous blog posts (1, 2, 3) I called for a project manager to make the integration of WMF projects with OpenStreetMap happen. This whole sorry saga provides additional arguments why we should give this project more visibility.

NB I am really happy that this issue surfaced now and not later.

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