Attribution guidelines/2020-02-13 draft

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

information sign

This is a draft document of the LWG. Please do not edit the document itself, add comments to the talk page.

information sign

Draft Attribution Guideline/2020v2 is a modified version presented during 2020-06-25 OSMF board meeting

information sign

See also "Community attribution advice": a community-created document which represents the view of some members of the OpenStreetMap community, but has not been officially approved by OSM Foundation

OpenStreetMap Attribution Guideline

Draft 0.6 February 13th, 2020


OpenStreetMap (short OSM) data is distributed on the terms of the ODbL 1.0. The ODbL differentiates between those derivatives of the licensed database that themselves are databases (Derivative Databases and Collectives Databases) and those that are not, so-called Produced Works. In the domain of OpenStreetMap the prototypical Produced Work is a map for public display created from OSM data.

In the case of Derivative and Collective Databases, the ODbL requires that attribution be made available together with the database including a copy of the licence or an appropriate URL pointing to it. In our experience this is largely unproblematic and has not led to conflicts in the past.

In the case of a Produced Work that is Publicly Used, the ODbL (4.3) states:

However, if you Publicly Use a Produced Work, You must include a notice associated with the Produced Work reasonably calculated to make any Person that uses, views, accesses, interacts with, or is otherwise exposed to the Produced Work aware that Content was obtained from the Database, Derivative Database, or the Database as part of a Collective Database, and that it is available under this License.

The standard in the ODbL is non-specific and by its own definition context-dependent. As a result, throughout the history of OSM, there has been a great deal of questions and discussion as to how OSM should be attributed.

As Produced Works tend to be the end user facing, final product, providing attribution that fulfills our requirements may conflict with the interest of the publisher to garner as much attention as possible and as a result, missing or insufficient attribution sometimes occurs.

Historically, guidance on sufficient attribution has been available from the “Copyright” page on and from the OSMF website Licence and Legal FAQ. Most of the existing guidance dates back to 2012 and was written before or around the change of the OSM licence to the ODbL. Some of this guidance is thus outdated. Further, while there have been relevant discussions and rulings by the OSMF LWG (Licence Working Group) since then, there is no easy way to find it in one document.

This document intends to provide all current attribution guidance in one place and cover use cases that have changed or didn’t exist in 2012. It will concentrate on attribution of Produced Works because, as already noted, that tends to cause most conflict.

The goal of this document is not to conclusively or comprehensively cover all use cases, or to cover all attribution formats that would meet the requirements of ODbL. Nor is it an attempt to define the contours of minimum attribution necessary under the license and under applicable law.

Copyright and data protection laws are jurisdictional, and the LWG does not have the capacity to exhaustively research every law in every jurisdiction. Rather, the goal of this document is to support the OSM community by providing examples of use cases and attribution methods that OSMF considers to be sufficient attribution under the ODbL. We encourage those consulting this document to view these examples as “safe harbors,” not absolute proscriptions. You are of course always encouraged to provide better and more prominent attribution. We will also consider additional use cases and guidance based on the community’s needs and interests.

Goals of attribution and the community ethos

We believe that the principal goal of attribution should be to provide moral credit for the effort used to create the original work and provide access to the license terms, but secondarily also to reinforce common practices and norms that are central to the ethos of the OSM community.

These attribution guidelines seek to meld both legal requirements under the ODbL but also the best practices that reflect OSM values. A further goal that we hope to accomplish with these attribution guidelines is to encourage lively debate about the types of attribution that will increase the contributions, inclusiveness and effectiveness of goals that the OSMF considers central to its mission. As this document seeks to provide guidance for goals that we hope will elevate the OSMF’s continuing mission, compliance with these guidelines today does not mean that we will not propose or ask for different attribution in the future if it promotes our shared goals.

Underlying principles

We can derive a number of secondary requirements from the base requirement “...reasonably calculated to make any Person that uses, views, accesses, interacts with, or is otherwise exposed to the Produced Work aware that Content was obtained from the …

  • The attribution needs to be placed in the vicinity of the produced work, or in a location where customarily attribution would be expected by the users of the map.
  • It needs to be legible (font size, colour, positioning and amount of time that it is visible)
  • Other attribution, logos, or text must not create any false or misleading impression that OSM data is not from OSM, or, for trademark reasons, that non-OSM data is from OSM.
  • There needs to be a way to access more information, that is at least: origin and licence of the data, if it can’t be directly associated with the attribution text (for example by making the text a clickable link).

Note that attribution is only necessary when a Produced Work is used Publicly (as defined by the license). This guideline does not concern internal uses.

Attribution text

Attribution must be to "OpenStreetMap".

You must also make it clear that the data is available under the Open Database Licence. This can be achieved by making the text “OpenStreetMap” a link to [], which has information about OpenStreetMap’s data sources (that OpenStreetMap needs to attribute) as well as ODbL.

Historically, OSMF has asked for attribution to “© OpenStreetMap contributors”, or, when space was limited, “© OpenStreetMap,” but this no longer makes sense. When OpenStreetMap used the CC-BY-SA license for both the database and the map tiles, the “© OpenStreetMap contributors” was most accurate, because the copyright ownership remained with the contributors to OpenStreetMap. However, since then, OpenStreetMap has moved to the ODbL for the database, and the style license for the map tiles on has also changed, to a CC0 license. Thus, the Produced Work that a user sees uses map coloring, rendering, and other creative choices either made by someone other than OSMF, or for which copyright has been disclaimed. The focus of attribution is now on the underlying data source. Since the previous attribution format includes “OpenStreetMap”, the OSMF has no objection to anyone continuing to use the old format.

OSM does not wish to claim credit for data or other material that did not come from it, so feel free to qualify the credit to explain what OSM content you are using. For example, if you have rendered OSM data to your own design, you may wish to use "Map data from OpenStreetMap."

Specific guidance

Pannable and zoomable maps on websites

For a browsable map (e.g. embedded in a web page or application), the credit should typically appear in a corner of the map.

Website attribution example

While the lower right corner is traditional, any corner of the map is acceptable. Alternatively, the attribution may be placed adjacent to the map.

Except for small maps or multiple data sources, as described below, attribution must be visible without requiring the user to click on an icon or similar interaction.

You may use a mechanism to collapse the attribution if the attribution was initially fully visible. For example, the attribution is fully visible when the map is first loaded, but after the user clicks an “X” it is no longer visible. In such an instance, the user must still be able to find the license information if they look for it, e.g., from the menu.

Static images

Static images must be generally attributed the same way as dynamic images. However, if multiple static images appear on the same webpage, one instance of attribution is sufficient. (For images where hyperlinking is not possible, see the “Books, magazines and printed maps” section.)

In accordance with the Substantial Guideline, static images of fewer than 100 features do not require attribution. In addition, static images of areas less than 10,000 m2 do not require attribution. Small thumbnails/icons do not require attribution.

Small maps

The following maps are each considered small:

  • The map takes up less than 25% of the displayed window, or
  • The map is of less than 500 device-independent pixels horizontally.

Small maps may have attribution after one interaction. Examples of one interaction include “one click,” such as an icon or link that opens a pop-up or new webpage that displays attribution, or a mouseover, swipe, drag, pinch, etc.

Mobile devices

Devices such as phones, watches, fitness trackers, cameras, GPS devices, and hand-held gaming devices, and other devices with similar screen sizes are considered mobile devices. Mobile devices typically have more limited input methods, such as touch screens or buttons, and different user expectations. Laptops and tablets are not considered to fall into this category.

Mobile devices may provide attribution as on a webpage.

In addition, mobile devices may have attribution after one interaction. Examples of one interaction include “one click,” such as an icon or link that opens a pop-up or new webpage, or a swipe, drag, pinch, etc.

Alternatively, mobile devices may provide attribution on a splash screen on application startup or in a pop-up that fades/collapses automatically. The text on the splash screen must be easily legible and visible such that the typical viewer has time to comprehend the attribution, or require an user interaction to dismiss, though it may appear on the screen at the same time as other attribution.

If attribution is presented to the user upon application startup, it does not need to be presented to the user every time the user looks at or interacts with the application. (For clarity, when an application returns to the foreground from the background, startup attribution does not need to be re-presented.)

If a splash screen or other method of attribution cannot link to the licence information, the link must be provided in an easily locatable part of the application (e.g., in the menu under “Data licenses”).

Geocoding - search

  • Geocoders that use OpenStreetMap data must credit OpenStreetMap
  • Applications that incorporate such a geocoder must credit OpenStreetMap
  • A geocoded database need not maintain attribution attached to the database, provided it is not a Derivative Database

See the Geocoding - Guideline for details.

Routing engines

We have adopted a parallel attribution theory for routing engines, though detailed guidelines do not exist.

  • Routing engines that use OpenStreetMap data must credit OpenStreetMap
  • Applications that incorporate such a routing engine must credit OpenStreetMap
  • Routing instructions generated by such a routing engine need not maintain attribution attached to the instructions, provided they do not form a Derivative Database

Machine learning models

This section is placeholder guidance based on the most common scenario discussed with OSMF LWG:

A user extracts a portion of the OSM database, such as building footprints. They fill in the building polygons to create a training set for use with satellite imagery for training. A model is trained to predict what portions of imagery are buildings. The model is then used on fresh imagery to make predictions as to where buildings might exist.

Training datasets that are substantial extractions from OpenStreetMap data are considered Derivative Databases and need to be made available on ODbL terms if publicly used.

Models that have been trained with such training sets must be attributed in documentation where a person using the model can expect such information, such as a README for the model’s codebase, or on a webpage where the model can be downloaded.

Predictions made using such a model are not implicated by ODbL. However, note that if a Produced Work is used to extract, copy, or recreate substantial parts of the OpenStreetMap data it is considered to be a Derivative Database (see the Produced Work - Guideline). This reasoning is because sophisticated machine learning models can be “overtrained” to the extent that they can recreate the training set.

Additional guidance concerning more diverse use cases may be provided in a future guideline.

Books, magazines, and printed maps

For a printed map and similar media (that is ebooks, PDFs and so on), the credit must appear beside the map if that is where other such credits appear, or in a footnote/endnote if that is where other credits appear, and/or in the "acknowledgements" section of the publication (often at the start of a book or magazine) if that is where other credits appear. The URL to must be printed out.

Artwork, household goods, and clothing

Physical merchandise with an aesthetic component using OpenStreetMap data must provide attribution on any packaging, at the point of sale, and to the extent possible somewhere on the item itself. For example, merchandise may provide attribution text in the vicinity of the image, or on the item’s label or tag. The text must be readable and include the URL printed out.

TV, film, or video productions

For fictional productions or where the map is not the focus of the production, attribution may be given in end credits or on the map. The URL to must be included in end credits.

For incidental footage of a third party map that uses OSM as a source, you must not digitally alter or erase the existing attribution on that map, but you do not need to do anything further (for example, if you film a person typing on their laptop and a map is visible on their laptop screen).

For productions where an OpenStreetMap map is a major component of what is shown to users, the attribution should typically appear in a corner of the map. As long as the credit is on screen long enough to be read, it does not have to remain in view during panning or zooming.

Computer games and simulations

For video or computer games, attribution can be provided either by a splash screen on application startup, or in the game view. Detailed information must be provided on the credits page or in another suitable location.

Attribution text on a splash screen must be easily legible and visible such that the typical viewer has time to comprehend the attribution, though it may appear on the screen at the same time as other attribution (e.g. for the game’s renderer).

Attribution together with other required information

Often multiple sources will be utilized to create a Produced Work. This can cause contention for the available, easily visible, space, particularly if there is further non-attribution related information that needs to be displayed.

Attribution with other sources and information on a separate page that is visible after one user interaction is acceptable if any of the following is true:

  • OpenStreetMap data is not the most significant data source for the map (or tied for the most significant data source for the map),
  • attribution of multiple data sources in the formats described above would result in the attribution extending over more than half the width of the map,
  • there is legal or safety or privacy information that needs to be presented with similar or greater prominence to attribution.

Examples of one interaction include “one click,” such as an icon or link that opens a pop-up or new webpage that displays attribution, or a mouseover, swipe, drag, pinch, etc.

If OpenStreetMap data is being used in some countries but not others, we prefer to only be attributed for those areas that actually contain OpenStreetMap data. Optimally, attribution would dynamically change based on the location viewed, but this is not required.

“Standard” style map tiles

The map tiles at are a Produced Work by the OpenStreetMap Foundation using OpenStreetMap data under the Open Database License. Thus, if you are using map tiles supplied by us (e.g., as a screenshot) use the following attribution:

"Base map and data from OpenStreetMap and OpenStreetMap Foundation"

If you are using the tiles in a format that does not support hyperlinks, you can use explanatory text, such as “see and” instead.

Note that this only applies to the map images in the “standard” style, found at Other providers of maps will have other requirements.