Open Data License/Community Guidelines/How We Create Community Guidelines

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This is our core evolving formal process for helping folks use OpenStreetMap data when there is a concern about ambiguity or grey area in the specific and practical context of the Open Database License, ODbL. For more general information, please read our Community Guideline overview. Note that there are, deliberately, no time frames specified as we are completely volunteer run and things get done, well, when they get done. If you have a particular issue that you keen to see resolved and are willing to join in, do contact the License Working Group

1) Initial proposal

Anyone may propose a community guideline for adoption. It is expected that the main sources will be:

2) Is it practical?

2) LWG will review for practicality, clarity and for any potential loophole that might affect general share-alike beyond the intent. LWG may pass the matter for legal counsel comment.

3) Initial draft for community editing

The initial text will be placed in a new page under

Members of the OpenStreetMap community are free to edit, refine, comment, discuss. This is the most important stage of the process.

  • Background - An informal introduction to the issue. May include the original questions or concerns that lead to the guideline. Not part of the formal guideline.
  • Guideline - This is the formal text agreed or being considered by the community. It may be blank at first while the community discusses what approaches can be used to tackle the issue and whether there is indeed a practical, agreeable solution. When text is added, a note should be made of its status, for example that it is a draft proposed by the License Working Group or an individual, group or organisation but not fully considered or discussed by the wider community.
  • Examples - Extension of the formal guideline with real world examples that can be clearly understood without any legal training or knowledge.
  • Open Issues, Use Cases, Discussion - This section will remain open for ever to allow community discussion, challenge and questions. Not part of the formal guideline.

4) The Age Test

At this stage, the level of authority of the statement is a function of how long it has been there, and therefore implicitly accepted, without major challenge or modification. As this is a wiki, you can easily see the age and stability of any text by clicking the "View History" link.

5) Formal OpenStreetMap Foundation endorsement

Once suitably stable, LWG will inform legal-talk and the OpenStreetMap Foundation's Management Team of their intent for OSMF endorsement and, provided there is no controversy, pass to the OpenStreetMap Foundation board.

If endorsed by the board, the formal text, (Guideline + Examples), will be transferred to the site as it is locked down, i.e it cannot be randomly edited.

6) Future changes

The guideline may be reviewed from time to time if there are OpenStreetMap contributing community requests. Updates and amendments may be made, provided that fair and reasonable notice and consideration will be given to users relying on them.

OpenStreetMap geodata users who have issues with these guidelines and interpretations of the ODbL are encouraged to engage in discussion with the Foundation's License Working Group and work towards additional or updated guidelines.