Attribution guidelines/2020-06-22 draft

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OpenStreetMap Attribution Guideline

Draft, June 22nd, 2020

Notes for consultation

  • Substantially simplified the language used to make the guideline accessible to a wider audience
  • Removed historical attribution information which is no longer relevant
  • Based on community feedback, made it clear that anyone who does one of the activities in 4.3 without doing others (e.g. views without interacting) must see attribution. This changed the guidelines.
  • Combined guidelines where their requirements were now the same


OpenStreetMap (OSM) data is distributed under the Open Database License (ODbL). If you want to use OpenStreetMap data in something you create and distribute, you must attribute OpenStreetMap.

While attribution is usually required, the way it must be done depends on the type of map, database, or other creation, and how it is presented.

These guidelines are not a substitute for the legal text itself. If the two texts disagree, the legal text takes precedence.

They may not be the only, best or absolute minimum attribution necessary under the licence and under applicable law. They are intended to provide a technically feasible safe harbour that satisfies the legal requirements under the ODbL and the OpenStreetMap contributor terms, but also as an expression of best practices and values that the OSM community socially and ethically expects data reusers to follow.

As they seek to support the OSMF’s continuing mission, compliance today does not mean that we will not propose or ask for different attribution in the future if it promotes our shared goals.

You may, of course, provide even better and more prominent attribution.

Why we require attribution

Attribution encourages others to use OSM data by making obvious where it is coming from and under which conditions it can be used.

It also helps recruit contributors and encourages them to contribute more, boosting a virtuous circle that maximises the quality of the map for everyone.

Finally, it is not only a legal obligation under the ODbL but also a moral duty of data reusers to give credit where credit is due.

Underlying principles

We can derive a number of secondary requirements from the base requirement in the ODbL, “…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 [OpenStreetMap] …”.

  • Attribution must be shown to anyone who does any of these things, including anyone who views or is exposed to the map or produced work. They do not need to interact with the map or produced work to see the attribution.
  • 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 must be readable and understandable.
  • 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. The text may appear at the same time as, or next to, other attributions.
  • 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 licence). 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 License. This can be done by making the text “OpenStreetMap” a link to, which has information about OpenStreetMap’s data sources (which OpenStreetMap needs to attribute) as well as ODbL.

The text must be easily readable and understandable. The font, size, colour, contrast, positioning, and amount of time that it is visible must be considered. You should follow accessibility guidelines such as WCAG, and any other locally relevant regulations.

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.”

The historical forms of attribution “© OpenStreetMap contributors” or “© OpenStreetMap” are acceptable.

Specific guidance

We will consider additional use cases and guidance based on the community’s needs and interests.


You must include attribution to OpenStreetMap and either the text of the ODbL or a link to it as part of the database, derivative database, or database as part of a collective database.

If it is not possible to put the required notices in this place for technical reasons, then you must include the notices in a location (such as a relevant directory) where users would be likely to look for it.

Interactive maps

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, or on a splash screen or pop-up shown before the map once every time the user starts the app, device, website, etc.

You may use a mechanism to fade/collapse the attribution under certain conditions:

  • immediately with a dismiss interaction, for example clicking an ‘x’ in the corner of a dialog
  • automatically on map interaction such as panning, clicking, or zooming
  • automatically after five seconds. This also applies to splash screen or pop-ups.

If the attribution has been collapsed, the user must still be able to find the licence information if they look for it, for example from an ‘(i)’ button in the corner of the map or an ‘About’ option in a menu.

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 website application (e.g. in the menu under “Data licences”).

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 presented again.)

Static images

Static images must be generally attributed the same way as interactive maps. However, if multiple static images appear on the same document, 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.

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 based on the most common scenario discussed with the Licencing Working Group:

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, 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 utilised 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.

If OpenStreetMap is not a significant data source for a particular map and the required attribution text and legal or safety or privacy information that must be presented would result in text extending over more than half the width of the map, it is acceptable to use an icon or link that opens either a pop-up or new webpage that displays attribution on mouse click or mouseover. [TODO rephrase more clearly?]

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.