User:Maning/copyright detection notes

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The recent popularity of OSM in the Philippines have attracted a lot of contributors. In some cases, overeager users add copyrighted data in order to speed up coverage within their areas. I do not label this action as vandalism. In some of the cases I encountered, this is simply because users are not completely aware of the basic principles of OSM. This page is a documentation of how to detect such cases in the Philippines and a proposed approach to resolving such conflicts.

Possible source of copyrighted material in the Philippines

  • Google's aerial imagery and mapmaker data - copying Google's map data is a violation of its Terms of Use.
  • - this is another community project creating maps for Garmin devices. Volunteers submit GPS traces and these are compiled by the site maintainers to make the Garmin maps. They have extensive data for the country.
  • LGU websites - while the local government unit provides free access to some of their maps in the web, it is not necessarily permitted to copy the data into OSM without prior permission.

Editing behavior patterns

Patterns from a set of user editing behavior can provide interesting trends. The patterns listed below doesn't necessarily mean copyright violation behavior alone, a mixture of several patterns should be established.

  • A new user is suddenly adding a lot of data in a very short period of time.
  • No GPS traces available in the area.
  • No aerial imagery are available in the area. A list of available hi-res imagery for the Philippines is documented here.
  • Choice of editors - offline editors (josm, merkaartor, QGIS OSM plugin) can easily import other data format (KML, shapefiles, etc.)
  • Large areas where roads are not connected along intersections - this can be done by simply tracing aerial imagery in Google Earth. The resulting KML is then converted to either GPX or OSM format.
  • "Advanced" features are added even in the absence of aerial imagery e.g. landuse types, buildings, etc.
  • A specific user is editing several areas almost at the same time.
  • No source tags.

How to resolve conflicts

First and foremost, we should always respect other user's contributions! Accusing anyone of anything is not good especially if you cannot establish such editing behavior as dubious. Here are some guidelines you can use:

  1. Contact the user via OSM's messaging service. Outline your observations and ask the user to explain his edits. Do not accuse the user as a vandal! Give the user enough time to respond.
  2. If you are unsatisfied with the response, post your observations in the talk-ph list so that other ph contributors can check and verify your observations.
  3. In most cases this can be resolved locally (with the OSM-PH community), for extreme cases which the OSM-PH cannot handle, send your detailed report to OSMF's Data Working Group


I am personally against forming an OSM-PH governance committee to handle such conflicts. We do not want a moderated OSM database.

Removing "tainted" data

While every data in OSM can be easily removed, each element is retained within the database. In Potlatch, using "U" keyboard shortcut will show all deleted elements as red lunes with a locked key. Unsuspecting users maybe tempted to unlock the deleted element. As a workaround, we can do something like this when deleting "tainted" data:

  1. Remove all existing tags (highway, etc) but keep a note saying that this is an illegal import.
  2. Commit the changes
  3. Delete the data

Before doing the above, make sure you announce your plan to the malinglist.

List your cases here data to OSM September 2010

I received an email for a tutorial on how to import data to osm, using a combination of Mapsource, JOSM and Potlatch.

List of mappers with a similar editing behavior based on the tutorial document

Bacolod - between April to May of 2010

Sent this message to Bacolod Mappers:

Hi! My name is Maning Sambale another Philippine openstreetmapper.

This is my OSM user wikipage:

I've seen your edits in Bacolod and around Negros Island and they are really great. I am happy
to see that Openstreetmap Philippine data is expanding to the Negros
Island. However, I noticed that some contributions around Bacolod City
have a striking similarity to GoogleMaps' data. 

See this and use the slider on the top-right:

A few months ago, there was a contributor who added a lot of data in Bacolod which the author himself  admitted to be from a source not compatible with OSM's license.

See this thread:

We had to remove these edits in accordance to OSM's policy:

I also explained this particular event in one of the bacolod mapper's diary:

Apologies if this may seem "too accusing" but please explain the sources of your contributions.
As far as I know, there are no high-res images available for tracing
data into OSM at the moment.  Moreover, GPS tracks are too few around
that area.


Mappers contacted (this were the usernames who edited Bacolod area according to the history tab).

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