[Geowanking] Re: GeoDRM
crschmidt at metacarta.com
Mon Oct 16 22:13:28 PDT 2006
On Tue, Oct 17, 2006 at 04:07:58AM +0200, Lars Aronsson wrote:
> Christopher Schmidt wrote:
> > On Mon, Oct 16, 2006 at 05:59:59PM +0200, Lars Aronsson wrote:
> > > European national government agencies that for centuries gathered
> > > geodata, paid for by the tax payers, and now they are selling it
> > Blaming the OGC for that is ridiculous.
> The so-called Open Geospatial Consortium is a new player, as is
I'm not sure what game we're talking about here. OGC has been around
since 1994 -- while not 'old', it doesn't even begin to compare with
OpenStreetMap when we're talking about age... or anything else, really.
(For a more commonly known comparison, the OGC is older than the W3C by
about a month.) I think perhaps you may be confusing OSGeo -- the Open
Geospatial Foundation, an organization which seeks to further the
development of Open Source Geospatial software -- and the OGC. I don't
blame you, but there's a major distinction between the two.
> So in this time of increasing interest for geographic information,
> we have a similar situation with a small open-purist stance
> against age-old closed monopolies.
To me, 'open-purist stance' in this context brings to mind GPL-style
licensors: persons who feel that their data should only be used if the
resulting dataset is released. However, at this point, creating a
limitation on the data so that it can *only* be used in that way is not
possible. So, the open-purists must suffer as large organizations take
their GPL-style licensed data and incorporate it in their commercial
dataset, because there is no technical means to prevent it.
> If we cannot turn the
> situation around immediately, we can at least work in the right
The best way to work in the right direction is to ensure that data
holders can release their data to the widest public possible without
fearing use which is contrary to the license the data is made available
under. Once that is done, then licensors can make the decision as to
what license is appropriate for their data without concern of what might
happen if users violate the license.
> The OGC has a name that
> indicates they are on the open side. But it turns out they are
> not. Now they are also trying to tell us that DRM can be good.
The ability to ensure that your data is protected from violations of its
license can be a good thing if it means that more data providers are
willing to release data under an open license, and that the mechanism
for DRM does not prevent users of the data from using it in any way that
is in accordance with the license.
I don't think this is universally possible. I think that it is likely
that any DRM solution will probably fail to allow the user to excercise
their full rights in some situation. At that point, the DRM will have
failed the user. Until that happens -- and thus far, there is no
concrete evidence that it has happened or will happen -- claiming that
DRM 'can not be good' is, in this case, premature. DRM which enables
users access to more data, without costing them some right they are
afforded by agreements with the data provider, is good.
case the Dr
> > > Any DRM scheme is just a means for those agencies to keep a
> > > lock on the data.
> > And you'd rather have the data not be available at all?
> Correct. Do you buy music wrapped in DRM? I don't.
Not a valid response to the question. In the music world, you have an
option of buying non-DRMed music. The data you seem to be most
interested in is not available without DRM. If it were to become
available under a permissive license with built in limitations on the
use of the data to match that license, would that be better than not
having the data at all?
> > Making the technical means available for users to establish
> > protection of their data *may* lead some organizations to
> > provide more data,
> Don't call them "users".
Sorry. "Data providers."
> They are government agencies.
You misinterpreted who 'they' was in this case. 'They' could be any
person that has data and wishes to make it available under some specific
license. FooCorp, a company which maps the locations of every FooBucks
location in the world, may want to release that information to the
public with a no-redistribution clause. They are not a government
agency. 'They' could be the Open Guides project, which wishes to ensure
protection of its data from incorporation into commercial data sources.
"They" could be Open Street Map, which wishes to ensure that the terms
of the Creative Commons license under which their data is released is
adequately described in a standardized framework. All of these might be
covered by the discussions ongoing in the OGC GeoDRM working group.
> We are the users.
You are generalizing. Not everyone on this list, and certainly not
everyone participating in the OGC or GeoDRM discussions, is a user. I
consider myself a data provider for several different types of data. The
fact that I am lucky enough to be able to choose a permissive license
due to the fact that I don't have to pay my rent based on the data I
have collected does not mean that I am any less devoted to or interested
in finding a way for people who *do* have that requirement to continue
to make ends meet.
> And we release our data in the public domain or using Creative Commons
You speak as if this is a universal truth. It's not. Many individuals
and organizations hold massive amounts of geographic data for fear that
releasing it would lead to its misuse. Not all of these concerns can be
solved by DRM. Some of them can.
> We, the users, don't need DRM. This is not a symmetric game.
The line between data provider and data consumer is not a black and
white one. Consumers of geodata typically are interested in becoming
producers of geodata: I want to download data so that I can make a map.
I want to download data so that I can know where I am, and write it down
in a logbook or journal. These are simple cases, but they can grow more
complex as well. Drawing such a black and white line between providers
and users is a mistake.
If you want to spend your time creating data, and releasing it into the
public domain, that's wonderful. Not everyone has that luxury. If more
data becomes available in a way that helps solves problems that need to
be solved, then I don't see the changes as a net loss for anyone.
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