What is the license, how can I use it?

The OpenStreetMap Geodata License

The OpenStreetMap project provides increasingly extensive map data for the entire world that you can download and use for ANY purpose you like.

Usage of the geodata is controlled by a license. The most important thing about the license is that you do not have to pay anybody anything to use the data. There are NO copyright, license, usage or other fees. You may use the data for personal, community, educational, commercial, government or any other use that you can think of. We, the OpenStreetMap community, ask only two things in return.

Firstly, that you attribute OpenStreetMap, i.e. you show clearly where you got the data from. A lot of contributors have spent and spend a lot of time and effort adding data from virtually every country in the world. We would also like people to know about our project and perhaps use or contribute data themselves.

Secondly, you "Share Alike". If you publicly distribute something that you have made from our data, such as a map or another database, and you have added to or enhanced our data, then we want you to make those additions publicly available. We obviously prefer it if you added the data straight back to our database, but you do not have to, as long as the public can easily get a copy of what you have done. If you do not publicly distribute anything, then you do not have to share anything.

Our current license is called "CC-BY-SA", the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike version 2.0. Here is the readable summary and here is the full text.

We are currently changing the license, read more about it here. If fully accepted by our community, data will be re-licensed under the OpenDataCommons Open Database License (ODbL).

Both licenses are broadly the same, you can use the data without payment, provided that you "Attribute" and "Share Alike". However, the new license is specifically written for databases. It offers our project more protection. Attribution is more practical. It is a lot clearer on when "Share Alike" is triggered. It also allows you to make maps with layers from different data with incompatible licenses. In short, we want even more people to use our data.

Legal Bit! Please note that none of this is legal advice. Additionally, under "CC-BY-SA", the individual contributors, not the Foundation, are the licensors of the data.

Is it really free?


But if you would like to support the project ... Donate Button

If I have data derived from OSM data, do I HAVE to distribute it?

No, The licence does not force you to distribute or make any data available.

Can I charge for distributing OSM data or data derived from OSM data?

Yes. You can charge any amount of money you want for any service or data you provide. However, since the data (or service) that is derived from OSM data must be licensed as above, other people may then redistribute this without payment.

Can I get permission from OpenStreetMap Foundation to distribute OSM data under an alternative licence?


Under CC-BY-SA, the copyright to OSM data is vested in the individual contributors. If you happen to use data provided solely by one or a few OSM contributors, you can ask them if they are willing to provide their data to you under a different license.

Under the proposed ODbL structure, the Foundation will be contractually bound to the bulk of OpenStreetMap individual contributors to license the data only under a specific license. Initially, this will be ODbL 1.0. The Foundation will have the right to change that license to meet future conditions but only if is "free and open" and only under a mechanism that involves getting the consent of then active contributors. As with CC-BY-SA, copyright to individual contributions remains with the contributor and their consent can be asked directly.

What do you mean by "Attribution"?

We want you to attribute OpenStreetMap, i.e. you show users and viewers of whatever you do with our data clearly where you got the data from. A lot of contributors have spent and spend a lot of time and effort adding data from virtually every country in the world. We would also like people to know about our project and perhaps use or contribute data themselves.

How should I attribute you?

Under the current CC BY SA license, there is no clear guide as to how attribution should be made. However, a community consensus can be found here

We suggest the following:

  • If you are using OpenStreetMap data, we request that your credit reads at least "'Map data (c) OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA'".
  • If you are using OpenStreetMap map tiles (e.g. Mapnik or Osmarender/tiles@home), we request that your credit reads at least "'(c) OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA'".

Where to put it?

Under CC BY SA, the attribution needs to appear in a place "reasonable to the medium or means you are utilising". In other words, you should expect to credit OpenStreetMap in the same way and with the same prominence as you would any other map supplier.

The common OpenStreetMap community interpretation of this is:

  • For a printed map, the credit should appear beside the map if that is where other such credits appear, and/or in the "acknowledgements" section of the publication (often at the start of a book or magazine).
  • For a browsable electronic map (e.g. embedded in a web page or mobile phone application), the credit should typically appear in the corner of the map, as commonly seen with map APIs/libraries such as Google Maps.
  • For a tv production, the attribution should typically appear in a corner of the map. As long as the credit is on screen long enough to be read, it does not have to remain in view during panning or zooming.
  • As an electronic database or collection of databases, file, CD, Place the text in the file itself or in an extra file.
  • A video or computer game - on the credits page or in the game view.

What do you mean by Share-Alike?

The CC-BY-SA summarises Share-Alike as "If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one."

In other words,

  • You can do what you like at home, or in your school, organisation or company. Share-Alike only applies if you distribute what you have done to outside people or organisations.
  • if you make a map from OSM data and publish, you license the map as CC-BY-SA. Anyone can make a copy of your map without paying you or asking your permission.
  • if you mix OSM data with other data and publish, you license it all as CC-BY-SA. Anyone can make a copy of your data without paying you or asking your permission.

One problem with CC-BY-SA is where does Share-Alike stop. If you "build upon this work" to make a book with a map in it, does that mean people can copy just the map or the whole book? This is not clear and one reason we want to change the license. Meanwhile, the community has so far generally accepted the following guidelines. The OpenStreetMap Foundation is happy with these guidelines, but we must point out that the final decision is up to any individual contributor, not us.

  • If you publish a map inside a larger work, Share-Alike applies to the map, not the larger work.
  • If you have a website using OSM-derived map tiles, Share-Alike applies to the map tiles. If you then put separate and distinct data layers on top, such as icons showing specialists points of interest or routes, track logs and the like, then Share-Alike does not apply to these elements as long as they do not interact with the map underneath.
  • If you enhance OSM data with other data, for example adding missing roads or adding more restaurants, then Share-Alike applies to the whole thing. This is generally known as a "Derived Work".
  • If you publish a set of OSM data as a file or database, with other separate files or databases, this is generally known as a "Collective Work". The CC-BY-SA clearly states that Share-Alike does not apply to the other parts of a Collective Work.

More information about CC-BY-SA

More information about ODBL

OpenStreetMap has begun the process of switching to a new license, the Open Database License, "ODbL" 1.0, an Attribution and Share-Alike for Data/Databases. This has been developed by Open Data Commons with input from OpenStreetMap over the last two years.

THIS LICENSE NOT YET AVAILABLE FOR END USER USE. We need to work with our contributor community to get a critical mass to accept the new license.

The new license offers clearer protection for OpenStreetMap and better clarity to end users. The general principles remain the same, OpenStreetMap data is offered freely for any use under Attribution and Share Alike terms. One important difference to highlight is that we will no longer require maps made from our data to be released under Share Alike conditions. Instead, any license can be used, including commercial, as long as any enhancements you made to our data is is shared back as data, for example a file on a website, or, better for us, directly contributed to OpenStreetMap. This should make it easier to make maps with layers of data from closed proprietary sources, something impossible now.

We will be further expanding this section as the change-over gathers momentum. Meanwhile, you can see the OpenStreetMap community's general wiki pages and also this page summarising the change aimed at OpenStreetMap contributors.