Equitable collaboration is the future
MountainProject/onXmaps filed DMCA takedown against OpenBeta.
This past week, I woke up to a Cease and Desist letter from onXmaps, the new owner of MountainProject — a popular crowd-sourced climbing website.
Coincidentally, the C&D letter arrived the day after I posted an open letter on MountainProject forum calling for greater transparency regarding the use of crowd-sourced content on their site. I find it disappointing that instead of starting a dialog, onXmaps would try to preemptively shut down an open source project aiming to serve the climbing community.
In the C&D onXmaps alleges OpenBeta project has made “unauthorized use of substantial copyrighted data from MountainProject.com”. The data, in this case, are crowd-sourced content that the climbing community has contributed to over the years.
GitHub has complied with onXmaps’ DMCA takedown and blocked access to the climbing data repository which hosts data files containing climbing routes, names, grade, location, etc.
You can read the full DMCA notice here.
Volumes of crowd-sourced content were created by the climbing community with the intention of sharing them.
As a member of the community, I believe we should have the freedom to study, improve and re-share data so that the community can benefit from our work. In particular, OpenBeta project provides a free and open source Climbing API, while MountainProject has quietly removed a similar API from their site since its acquisition by onXmaps. In rock climbing we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Building walls around public knowledge and community contribution is taking a step backward.
onXmaps should focus their software engineering expertise on improving the experience of climbing by working with, not against, the community to enhance the climbing dataset.
onXmaps should learn from successful leaders in the open source software industry. For example, MapBox supports and contributes to OpenStreetMap, an open-geographical database, while earning the trust and loyalty of developers with their innovative mapping tools.
I encourage you to voice your support in the open letter thread. And please stay tuned for an important announcement.
Thanks for your support 💙