Optional public domain licensing

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This text was written as a proposed website feature, by User:Phobie and User:Bilbo back in 2009. This was before the license change, and before a tickbox offering a public domain option was in fact implemented. The text has not been updated since

As there is new license to replace current cc-by-sa for OSM data, I think it would be good to allow people to voluntarily release their contribution as public domain.

There would appear a checkbox on OSM user page "[x] I wish my contributions to be available as public domain" or something similar. Possibly, as with the "deanonymization" feature (though I believe now nobody can edit "anonymously"), maybe this release to PD should not be possible to take back.

There is slight problem with derived data and the fact that the user we see as the "last editor" may not be the original author - see Whose node is it? page for some explanation. But we do not need to solve it - people who wish to take PD subset of data will be responsible to identifying which of the data are PD and which are not. We will only enable them to do it by telling them which users agreed to PD their data and which (those not in that list) have not agreed to do it.

Current mechanism (Category:Users whose contributions are in the public domain) is not sufficient since the usernames on wiki and in OSM can be different (in my case they are different, as the one I am using on wiki is already taken in OSM by someone else) There are 221 users as of now in that category, so I assume quite some people wish to release their contribution in public domain.

We will then publish list of users agreeing to make their data PD on some special page, with link to explanatory page (these users are agreeing to PD, but watch for derived data, history, etc ...)

Advantages of adding such feature

  • Will make transition to new license a bit easier, since we won't have to ask these users for permission - in the end, less data to be possibly deleted due to incompatible licensing, unreachable users and such.
  • Other people can take some subsections of data as public domain - those where the users have explicitly allowed to do it.

Work need to be done when adding this

  • We need to add the checkbox to user page and one columt to user table. I guess this one is easy
  • We need at least to export the "pd userlist" to make this feature usable. I think this is also quite easy.

Optional things that will make this feature even more useful

  • Since querying the main server for each object you need to verify that is in public domain could add some load, then I propose we either:
    • publish also dumps with full history (similarly as wikipedia publishes their xml dump both as only current version - like our planet dumps - and also version with complete history - such version would be useful for more than just deciding what is Pd and what not but also for other purposes, as you can extract from it the planet dump "as it would be in any moment of time"). Unlike the planet dumps, which are kept also in older version, we won't need any historical versions for this one, as last version sort of contains all the previous changes.
    • at least add complete user information to it (similarly as we see user list in OSM XAPI, though the users listed there are only "since last dump import" and are not complete).

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Discussion