Introduction to OSM for Business Users

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search


This page is being considered for cleanup. Please discuss this page.
Legal topics are covered in Legal and Category:Legal. Maybe the whole content should be rewritten a second time and/or moved to the OSMF web site.

Introduction to OSM for Business Users

You heard about OpenStreetMap and you think it sounds interesting. You even think that OpenStreetMap might be able to help your business but you aren't quite sure where to start. This is a good place for you to start.

Can I use OpenStreetMap for Business Purposes?

Main article: Legal#Free_and_open_geographic_data_for_the_world

Yes. The OpenStreetMap License allows commercial use.

What Licence? I Thought OpenStreetMap was Free?

OpenStreetMap data is Free. You don't need to pay for access to the data. You might need to buy your own servers or hire your own programmers depending on how you want to use OpenStreetMap data.

OpenStreetMap is licensed under Open Database License (ODbL). Even free data needs to be protected by license. The main reasons to license the OpenStreetMap data is to (1) assure the availability of OpenStreetMap data contributed by many, and (2) attribute contributors when using OpenStreetMap data.

Can I Include OpenStreetMap on my Web Site?

For how to embed OSM in your website or blog, see Export.
For tile usage policy, see Tile usage policy.
For commercial services, see Commercial OSM Software and Services.

Yes, but please don't overuse our web site or services. OpenStreetMap is built entirely by donations and volunteers. You can show your support for OpenStreetMap by donating

I Want to Put my Cafe on OpenStreetMap and OpenStreetMap on my Web Site

Main article: Beginners' guide

You should! First, make sure that your cafe is in the OpenStreetMap database.

Then put OpenStreetMap on your web site. Note: insert examples and links for a static map image and for an openlayers map object. What else?

If your web site is very popular, your use of our resources might hurt our other users. Popular web sites can use OpenStreetMap without impacting other users by building their own OpenStreetMap server.

I Want to do More. How do I Combine my Data with OpenStreetMap?

That depends on what you want to do and in some cases it depends on how you want to do it.

May I use OpenStreetMap data together with my proprietary data

Please have a look at the website of the OpenStreetMap Foundation which grants you the license to use OSM.

Can I Display My Own Data on OpenStreetMap (e.g. GPS tracks, movements of my vehicles)?

Please consult the Legal FAQ of the OpenStreetMap Foundation for questions about our license.

Independent from the legal situation, there is one remark: OpenStreetMap is a project to collect only information about persistent features which are verifiable on the ground. See Good_practice for further information.

Can I show available parking spaces on OpenStreetMap

It is technically possible to show available parking spaces on top of an OpenStreetMap based base map but please have a look the License and Legal FAQ of OpenStreetMap Foundation for further details.

However, it is not permitted to use OpenStreetMap for purposes which it is not designed for. OpenStreetMap collects only information about persistent features. Parking slots can become free (or occupied) at any moment. Such information is too temporary for OSM.

May we (company/organization) edit data in OpenStreetMap?

Contributions are welcomed as long as you respect the community, its decisions and procedures.

Please understand that there is no project lead you can talk to. OpenStreetMap is a project of volunteers without any leadership. Our communication happens on public mailing lists and public forums. You have to listen to the community members and get in touch with them. Don't assume you are alone and can do what you want. If you start doing something new or start any organized action, it is always the best idea to get in touch with the community. You can find links to our mailing lists and forums at

Please mention the affiliation of the accounts to your company on the profile pages of your accounts. Don't try to hide your activities because we are not hiding our activities, too. People will have less trust in you if you don't trust them.

At the time of writing of this answer (November 2017) there were some drafted versions of a formal guideline for organized and/or paid editing activities which summarize best practices. All important guidelines are linked from

I'm not sure if our Use is Permitted by the OpenStreetMap License

Answers to legal questions can be found at the website of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. An email address for your questions can be found at the website of the Licensing Working Group of OpenStreetMap Foundation.

But I can't Expose my Business Plan

You could contact a firm that offers consulting around OpenStreetMap. You could contact an individual OpenStreetMap user rather than a mailing list or pay a lawyer.

What Data Belongs in OpenStreetMap? What Not?

Only data that is verifiable, significant and permanent belongs into OpenStreetMap.

Here are some examples which data belongs into OpenStreetMap and which not:

Object Details included in OpenStreetMap Details not included in OpenStreetMap
Homes /apartment buildings. Location, address, building outline. Floor plans of private buildings, homeowner, tenant names.
Hospital Name, location of hospital, services (emergency?), building outline. Patient records, current beds available.
Shops and amenities (points of interest) type of shop/amenity, name, opening hours, website, contact (phone, fax, email), wheelchair accessibility any non-factual information which cannot be verified, advertisements, prices of individual products/services
Parking lot. Capacity, outline, position of driveways, parking lanes, operator, name, etc. How many spots are occupied currently.
Plants. Outline of forest, garden, lawn, large or notable individual trees (matter of individual preference). Flowers in a flower bed, individual blades of grass.
Please add more examples of data that should or should not be included in OSM.

See also