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Can you go back and change your contributor terms to remove the "consider my edits public domain" part?

asked 26 Apr '11, 21:14

rickasselin's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


why would you want to

(27 Apr '11, 00:26) andy mackey

You can't go back and change the contributor terms and the "I consider my edits public domain" for old data. Once you have declared some data PD, you can't revoke this license on this existing data, as someone might have already built upon that data under the terms you have given originally.

One could theoretically change the license for future data, although the system doesn't currently allow that either. So the best/only way to proceed in this case is to create a new account where you don't select the "I declare my data PD" flag and contribute future data under this new account.

It might also be worth pointing out, that it seems some what consensus that this PD-flag has no actual legal status, but is more a general hint about how you feel on this topic. It certainly doesn't have any practical implications at the moment, as all data downloaded from OSM is currently CC-BY-SA licensed and in future will be ODbL, irrespective of what the user has selected as their preference.

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answered 27 Apr '11, 05:30

apmon's gravatar image

accept rate: 20%


This is not correct, legally you are not bound to a PD promise, at least over here.

(04 Nov '11, 10:41) emj

emj, There's no way according to US law to declare something under the Public Domain. You simply can't. So that wouldn't work in US law, and I'm sure the US isn't alone in that Public Domain isn't something you can declare.

(25 Nov '11, 15:26) emacsen

"Public Domain" is a concept that simply does not exist in many juridictions.

(24 Aug '12, 08:44) Pieren


You cannot change your Contributor Terms choice any more. Because the OSM community prefers avoiding people switching back to 'Declined the new Contributor Terms'.

But do not mind: the choice you selected (Public Domain) is not applied to your contributions. Because your vote is just for statistics as explained on OSM Foundation.

The OSM wiki gives more details: If you declare your contributions to be in the Public Domain, you are thereby making a statement only. You will not actually be changing the license or what people can do with your data, because database law still overrides the protection of individual items.

Therefore, all your contributions use and will always use the same license as the whole database. Currently it is the CC-BY-SA. And in the near future, your contributions will be re-licensed to ODbL.


My answer is from what Zverik and chillly answered from a similar question I posted on my OSM diary : in english and in french. As you can see, the other three answers say all my contributions will stay in Public Domain (PD), and I have to create a new account: this in not true.

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answered 21 Aug '12, 14:22

oHessling's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 21 Aug '12, 15:11

It is not at all "legally the same", whatever the OSMF site may say. You try suing someone for infringement of rights after you have declared publicly that "I consider my contributions to be Public Domain".

(21 Aug '12, 15:23) Richard ♦

@Richard I understand what you say. Therefore, OSMF and wiki are wrong (my answer is based on OSMF and wiki). Do you mean, for instance, GoogleMaps can freely reuse the contributions from people having selected Agree, and I consider my contributions Public Domain?

(21 Aug '12, 15:43) oHessling

It depends on the jurisdiction—and in particular, whether any rights are infringed by extracting information from the database (either "database rights" per se, or other rights involved in a compilation of data).

As an extreme example, if someone were to map an entire city single-handed - such that the only contribution of "OSM" itself were renumbering the negative IDs (on upload) to positive ones (in the database) - then I believe a public domain dedication would hold.

It's a very complex issue, much more so than a simple "you will not be changing what people can do with your data" admits.

(21 Aug '12, 18:13) Richard ♦

To inject a bit of sanity in to this discussion: the value of the "I consider my contributions PD" box are not publically visible anywhere, nor have any lists been generated that contain the status of the individual accounts.

In other words there is no way for a third party to determine the "PD status" of an account or of an object at this point in time. Due to the controversial wording on the OSMF website I suspect that this will not change.

(24 Aug '12, 07:58) SimonPoole ♦

At this moment you can't, but it has come under fire before so I'm guessing it's not that hard to get such a feature if you have the right arguments. The problem is that licenses are highly political in OSM debates, so it's probably going to be hard to discuss it.

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answered 04 Nov '11, 10:42

emj's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

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question asked: 26 Apr '11, 21:14

question was seen: 11,709 times

last updated: 24 Aug '12, 08:44

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum