Talk:OpenStreetMap License/Archive 1

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This is an archive of old discussions moved from Talk:OpenStreetMap License Please do not add further replies to these discussions. If you have further comments to make, or you want to revive a discussion, you might move it back to Talk:OpenStreetMap License (or other talk pages), or create a new discussion there and just add a little link on here. Old discussions remain here deliberately to allow searches to turn up old answers to questions. Note also that, although we didn't really decide this back in 2008, there are many more suitable Contact channels than a wiki talk page, for discussion of licensing matters

Proposal: Seek permission from mappers to give the Foundation additional rights

The following was moved, because it was placed on a new page 'Licence', which is definately the wrong place for it (see also Talk:Licence). This is essentially a discussion point (although it's big enough to have its own page, if someone can think of a better title)

The Problem

Currently, the legal license situation of Open Street Map is a bit unclear. There is a foundation, which is a proper British legal entity and the data is "published" under a CC-by-SA license. It's not clear who owns the data - it can't be the foundation because some of the data was created for other purposes, and has been allowed into the OSM dataset as a byproduct. That "other purpose" data is still owned by whoever owns it. Therefore it is owned by the contributors. Therefore, OSM is breaking it's own license because it doesn't credit the authors of the data.

The "derivative work" provisions of CC-SA mean that your derivative work has to be released as CC-SA: /not/ that you have to publish the source vector data (as you would with GPL/LGPL) or that you have add it back into the OSM dataset.

In other words, if you use OSM data to create a road atlas, the whole road atlas will be freely photocopiable (under CC-SA) but you don't have to publish the vector data, let alone contribute it back into OSM.

Also note that certain proprietary users can redistribute OSM data with non-CC-SA data if they take care to make it a "collective work" rather than a "derivative work". The consensus seems to be that different layers on a webmap is enough for that. So you can have your OSM data in one layer, your speed camera data in another, and that's ok.

On the other hand, many open users (like npemaps / free the postcode) can't use the data because their license is more open, and they would be creating derivative works.

The Solution

The OSM foundation needs to extract from it's users permission to use the data it pleases, in exchange for promising a certain amount back. When you sign up, you should be presented with terms and conditions like the below, and asked to tick a box. Existing users will need to tick the box before they are granted any more access. (The below text is adapted from the BBC online terms and conditions).

In contributing to Open Street Map you agree to grant us a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to publish and otherwise use the material in any way that we want, and in any media worldwide. However, you still own the copyright to everything you contribute.

With more detail:

Any contribution submitted to (including any GPS coordinates, Names or locations) you agree, by submitting your contribution, to grant the Open Street Map Foundation ("The Foundation") a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sub-licenseable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, make available to the public, and exercise all copyright and publicity rights with respect to your contribution worldwide and/or to incorporate your contribution in other works in any media now known or later developed for the full term of any rights that may exist in your contribution, and in accordance with privacy restrictions set out in the Foundation's Privacy Policy. If you do not want to grant to the Foundation the rights set out above, you must not submit your contribution to Open Street Map.

By submitting your contribution to, you:

  • warrant that your contribution:
    • only contains data that you have the right to make available to the Foundation for all the purposes specified above;
    • is not defamatory; and
    • does not infringe any law; and
  • indemnify the Foundation against all legal fees, damages and other expenses that may be incurred by the Foundation as a result of your breach of the above warranty; and
  • waive any moral rights in your contribution for the purposes of its submission to and publication on and the purposes specified above.

(Rather obviously, when this goes live, we can't have it on the wiki, because people could claim it was different when they signed up or whatever)

The foundation would, through it's democratic processes, then be able to grant npemaps / free the postcode a license exception for making public domain postcodes. It would also be able to give the map to a non-free paper or electronic publisher (e.g. for a sat-nav) in exchange for income and/or a guarantee that improvements made by the publisher are pushed back into the original dataset.

The foundataion should put something into it's constitution that it will always make the data available free for non-commercial use under a license like CC-by-SA, or other similar license.

Rjmunro - 13:16, 1 February 2007

FSF Fiduciary Licence Agreegment

Someone posted this to the mailing list: - sounds like it might be exactly what we want, just a bit more complicated to cover other countries' legal odds and ends? (Of course we'd opt for the version where contributors assign their copyright to the OSMF, and not hand it all over to the FSF.) --Frederik Ramm 14:08, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

It looks like sole copyright would be assigned to OSM, which would cause a problem for those of us who use (say) our GPS tracks for both our own work and for OSM. I quite like Jamie's suggestion, personally. --Richard 14:28, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. It doesn't work for us. ASTL, for example, couldn't contribute their data, and that data represents most of the North East England major road network.
I work on some Apache software projects, stuff licensed under the Apache Software Foundation license. The ASF require all contributors to donate the code to Apache, who then own the copyright, but donors can still reissue it themselves under other licenses. Apache 1.0 required credit to the Apache Software Foundation (The classic "BSD" license), but have backed off from this as it just complicates dialog boxes and such too much. Instead the source has to retain copyright, that's all. What they do have in the Apache 2.0 license is a no-patent dispute rule: you sue anyone over a patent infringement that the apache software itself does, you lose your rights to it. I think the Gnu GPL has some kind of lawsuit protection in it too. This may be what the OSM license should be : do with what you like, but if you sue anyone or OSM for copyright infringement, you lose all rights to the entire dataset. This would discourage the Ordnance Survey from using it, but let pretty much anyone else use it. Getting ownership of all data by the OSM is step one: retaining individual accreditation doesnt scale. SteveLoughran 21:03, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

Proposal: Go Public Domain

I think that the above proposal - granting OSMF or another suitable body the right to deviate from CC-BY-SA on a per-case basis - would improve the situation. However I am actually in favour of dropping all this license nonsense and just submitting (and making available) all data as "public domain", i.e. truly free with no strings attached.

I am aware of the fact that companies like TeleAtlas or Navteq could, in theory, then use our data, build proprietary products with it, sue anybody who copies their products, not give back any improvements to the community, and so on. But frankly I don't care. The more people use our data, the better - and big commercial players using our data would not take the data away from us. We have already had people from commercial backgrounds shy away from using OSM data because they feared they would have to list every contributor or would have to waive copyright to their TV programme if it contains OSM data. These fears may be unsubstantiated but their existence is enough to damage OSM.

The "attribution" effect of the CC-BY-SA license will come automatically if our data is good ("new product! now includes world-famous OpenStreetMap data!"). The "share-alike" effect of the license is very difficult to interpret (if someone uses our data as the basis for a hand coloured atlas, do people then have the right to copy our data out of the atlas but not his colouring?), and causes a lot more headache than it has use. We want to produce free data for the world, and if someone wants to use it and not share it, fine, he'll soon get competition from others using our data for the same purpose.

CC-BY-SA puts potential users off. We have ourselves benefited from public domain data already - data that we wouldn't have been able to use if it had been licensed under CC-BY-SA because we cannot currently attribute data to anyone!

Let's go public domain and be really free. I suggest that individuals sharing this ideal put the template:PD-user template on their user pages to unilaterally assert that their contributions are PD. It is only a gesture for now as we cannot change the license of the whole, but a gesture worth making.

--Frederik Ramm 20:53, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

You argue the case well.
I've not mapped that much (so maybe I should stay out of such debates!) but from the little I've done, I've realised that it is a very labour intensive task which is never going to get finished unless we attract a large number of enthusiastic contributors. While it's important to attract people who will use our map data, it's maybe more important to attract people who will build it. Will people slave over mapping contributions for countless hours, without requiring a little bit of credit by some formal mechanism? Some people will, but for others that might seem a little bit too altruistic. It might even seem like... a bit of a mug's game.
As I was saying on Talk:Legal_FAQ#Attribution, we are lacking something akin to a wiki history display at the moment, in order to allow 'a little bit of credit' to make it's way back to individual contributors. And yet people still build the map, so maybe that disproves my point. Or maybe people are hoping such a feature will be added at some point. Maybe people will start to contribute more if we give them credit for their work.
That's a counter-argument running through my head, but to be fair you almost have me convinced.
Anyway from a wiki organisational perspective, the idea probably warrants its own page. There's similar ideas scattered around somewhere too
-- Harry Wood 13:10, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

  • I did add the aforementioned template to my userpage not long after joining. There is now mention of PD and CC0 on the page Asking users to accept the ODbL/Responders and I am wondering how one would officially release their edits into the public domain. It seems there is no obvious option for doing this. Thanks. --Ceyockey 01:34, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Compatability with CC-BY-SA 1.0

I posted a question on the forum about the compatibility of OSM images with a CC-BY-SA 1.0 project such as Wikitravel.--Padraic 23:03, 18 February 2008 (UTC)


"and anyone else can do the same with anything you produce."

The word 'anything' is misleading here, and may discourage use of the data. How about " and anyone else can do the same with anything you produce using the data." Pemberton 11:41, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

De:OpenStreetMap License Extra information?

OK. So De:OpenStreetMap License seems to be longer than OpenStreetMap License. Are we missing some information on this page? -- Harry Wood 19:06, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

If I was able to answer that, I would have done the clean-up by myself. I can only say that the added parts add aspects that are not mentioned here, and if they are correct, then there is a contradiction. --Lulu-Ann 00:08, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Seems that the De:OpenStreetMap License includes, from the Legal FAQ, the answer to Legal FAQ#I would like to use OpenStreetMap maps. How should I credit you? rewritten without any of "request" or "should" or "suggest", but rather "do this to comply". Alv 07:56, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Oh really? Sounds like De:OpenStreetMap License should probably be brought in line with the english version of this page in that case. i.e. remove the unnecessary duplication with content of the Legal FAQ.
Or maybe it could be useful duplication, but is it in line with how the De:Legal FAQ is worded?
I know that User:Richard has put a lot of thought (and spent effort defending against incorrect editing) the wording of entries of the english Legal FAQ page. It seems like he has a deep understanding such matters, so I'd be a little dubious about anyone's rewording of the "How should I credit you?" section. On the other hand, differences in german law might mean it makes sense to word things differently on De:Legal FAQ page.
-- Harry Wood 13:42, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
I have updated the translation of De:Legal FAQ to include the Part about proper attribuation. I think it would be best to remove that part here and instead put a link to Legal_FAQ#I_would_like_to_use_OpenStreetMap_maps._How_should_I_credit_you.3F and DE:Legal_FAQ#Ich_m.C3.B6chte_OpenStreetMap_verwenden._Wie_soll_ich_auf_euch_hinweisen.3F from here rather than to De:Legal_FAQ -- CygnusOlor 13:11, 19 January 2010 (UTC)