Legal/State Of The License/Working in mixed data environments

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Status Ongoing

The issue

A number of potential and actual OpenStreetMap data end users feel it difficult to provide services, (as distinct from maps), that use both OpenStreetMap data and some other form of data. The other data may have an incompatible license that prevents it from being released under a free and open license or some other issue, such as privacy, that has the same effect. So far, these users are usually, but not always, commercial.

One response from OpenStreetMap might be to say, "Tough. Our goal is not only to provide free and open data, but to encourage even more to be released. If you cannot/will not help, we are not interested, good bye."

However, there are benefits to OpenStreetMap to of addressing issues:

  • Attract "transitional user contributors". These are data users who would like to use OpenStreetMap but it is not good enough as of today, so they need to supplement with proprietary sources. While they do that, they contribute heavily to OpenStreetMap. In the long term, they can save money and remove supplier-reliance by eventually switching off the proprietary source. A win all round.
  • Help non-profits, government, local government provide socially useful free services. We can act as the hub for the geodata part of whatever they provide. That helps them and gives us more data. It is something the most or all contributors would support. License compatibility, dealt with elsewhere in this State of the License resource, may also partially address this.


The License Working Group has developed Community Guidelines as a vehicle for analyzing and provide resolution to issues like this. While some of the issues have been looked at, the focus until 2014-06-06 was on getting the process itself mature and on, well, the easier issues. Now these are out of the way, more time can be spent here.