Foundation/AGM21/Election to Board/Answers and manifestos/Q7 Attribution and editor links by major map data users

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Attribution and editor links by major map data users

Prominent projects like Facebook, MAPS.ME or Mapbox are using OSM data but many members of the OSM community feel that they do not properly directly attribute us and that some do not provide an easy link to use an OpenStreetMap editor. So many people using maps made with our data can remain unaware of the project and so we lose project visibility and potential contributors. This has not changed despite multiple requests from various mappers over several years. What do you plan to do as a board member?

Related links, added at the time of answers' publication:

Guillaume Rischard - Q7 Attribution and editor links by major map data users

We have to make clear how important attribution is: not as an ego thing to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but as a recruiting and marketing tool that helps create a better map.

I’m proud of my work on the attribution guidelines. They are intended to provide a technically feasible safe harbour, but also best practices, socially and ethically expected by the OSM community.

The most difficult part was clarifying how some of the existing styles of hidden attribution ('i' button attribution) are not acceptable to us, and that we don’t see them as meeting the legal minimum of the ODbL. Previous drafts, perceived as overindulgent, had faced massive community opposition. The guidelines had reached an impasse. Vested interests insisted on having hidden attribution on vaguely defined mobile screens. I solved technical objections by inventing technical solutions to hide attribution after a reasonable amount of time. Lobbying against my work was heavy and unpleasant, further convincing me that attribution is an important marketing tool.

Now that we’ve passed these attribution guidelines, LWG is considering as a first step sending requests similar to the love letters sent by the Belgium community.

I ask the voters to be extra careful not only about the answers on attribution given by my fellow candidates, but also how, when applicable, they and their employers put it into practice in their work.

Michal Migurski - Q7 Attribution and editor links by major map data users

I am satisfied with the 2021 board’s actions regarding attribution. Early in the year, the board asked the community to rate its priorities and found that additional work on attribution distantly trailed stability, outreach, protection, fundraising, and recruitment ( Later in the summer the board consulted with lawyers and the LWG to develop a set of attribution guidelines based on the ODBL “reasonably calculated” expectation clause along with an additional desired safe harbour provision describing the board’s preferred interpretation of the license ( This issue is both rated low in global community importance and settled for the immediate future.

Amanda McCann - Q7 Attribution and editor links by major map data users

In 2021, the OSMF adopted new Attribution Guidelines, and I helped that process towards the end. Currently Mapbox & Facebook are large data users of OSM data, and not in compliance with this OSMF Attribution Guidelines. Since there were employees from MB & FB who helped draft & approved those guidelines, I assume they plan to change their software to become in compliance. The OSMF board is in talks with some of them about improving attribution.

But at a certain point, we have to do something more serious. Obviously, we cannot (in practice) sue Facebook. However we need to sit down with them and talk about a timeline for them to become in compliance with the OSM attribution guidelines that they helped approve.

Mikel Maron - Q7 Attribution and editor links by major map data users

In June, the OSMF Board voted to adopt the Attribution Guidelines, setting forth community expectations in a legally sound framework. Now that this guidance is in place, the OSMF is reaching out for discussion with users of OSM about their plans relative to these guidelines. I support these guidelines and approach, but because of my Conflict of Interest on the issue, I abstainted from voting and am not taking part directly.

As far as easy links to edit OpenStreetMap, I personally am not sure of the value, unless that experience is very well constructed and closely managed. There are huge numbers of people who use OSM through their interaction with maps, and from direct experience of working with map feedback, it's very difficult to get a good signal to noise ratio.

One point I want to pick up on is the visibility of OSM and recruitment of potential contributors. Not disputing the importance of attribution, I do think it's worth examining other tactics that can be most helpful raising awareness of OSM and growing the project. For example, there is much more we can do to develop media stories in new places around the world.

Roland Olbricht - Q7 Attribution and editor links by major map data users

The minimum one can do is to remind such organization on every occasion to their obligations. On the other end of scale, it is unlikely that we sue companies with the size of Facebook. In fact, it is best to ensure on gets contact with the people that actually decide over the user interface that lacks or misrepresents the attribution. Putting pressure on people with the help of a lawyer may or may not help to get these contacts.

Bryan Housel - Q7 Attribution and editor links by major map data users

For answering this question, I’m referring to the Attribution Guidelines (adopted 2021-06-25) here:

Everyone who uses our map data must comply with the requirements set out in the ODbL - there can be no compromise on this. Most OSM-based maps that I’ve seen seem to meet these requirements, but I’d expect an opinion from the Licensing Working Group (LWG) to be the deciding voice in any dispute over attribution, and as a board member I’d defer to their expert opinion.

The ODbL is not the only license with attribution requirements - many Creative Commons licenses have these terms also, and Creative Commons has done a substantial amount of work to educate people about how to comply with their requirements. Here’s a great example:

I think the OpenStreetMap project could benefit from a page like that - readable by laypersons and with visual examples of “Ideal”, “Good”, “Incorrect” attribution. The “Attribution Guidelines” document I linked to above is pretty good, but I feel like the text is still hard to understand and could be clearer and with more examples.

OSM Foundation's board election 2021: official questions

All board candidates' manifestos

OSM Foundation's board election 2021 - OSM Foundation's Annual General Meeting 2021: information and agenda