Licence/About The Licence Change

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Revision as of 09:29, 11 September 2012 by MikeCollinson (talk | contribs) (→‎Where we are now: update for latest events)

About The OpenStreetMap License Change

The OpenStreetMap project is moving to a new license, known as the Open Database License (ODbL) which will replace the existing Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 2.0 license due to problems with the CC-BY-SA license when applied to data. The license is intended to clarify the terms under which people make contributions to the project and the terms under which people can use the data. It is a basically a share alike license for data.

The proposed license has been developed by OpenDataCommons a project of the Open Knowledge Foundation.

The Foundation supports the adoption of this license and has reviewed it with their lawyers.

The proposed license comes in two parts. One, the Open Database License (ODbL) covers the database itself and, and a set of upgraded Contributor Terms covers the content of the database.

The license remains firmly rooted in the attribution, share-alike provisions of the existing Creative Commons License but the ODbL is far more suitable for open factual databases rather than the creative works of art. It extends far greater potential protection and is far clearer when, why and where the share-alike provisions are triggered. There are further reasons for moving away from CC BY-SA here.

Where we are now


On Wednesday 5th September, the board of the OpenStreetMap Foundation resolved that the license change should go ahead. This was announced at State Of The Map Conference, Thursday 6th September. The exact date and time of the change-over will happen when our next planet dump, (a single publicly downloadable XML-based compressed file of our entire database) is published. This is likely to happen in the next few days.

Prior copies of the database will be continue to be available under CC BY SA as long as there is demand.

Our implementation plan provides more information about the history of the change-over process.

The documents

If you are looking for a final set of all the documents, here they are:

  • Contributor Terms - Individual contributors need to agree to these terms before contributing.
  • Human readable summary of the Contributor Terms
  • Database Contents License (DbCL) - Contributors waive all rights in the individual Contents of a Database licensed under the ODbL. In the text, 'Licensor' means the contributor and 'You' means the Foundation. This effectively means that end users of data published by the Foundation need to study only the ODbL rather than worrying about any special copyrights on individual elements of the database.

History of Acceptance and Implementation Process

Over a two year period, the OpenStreetMap has worked with Open Data Commons to create the ODbL license itself and then to create internal Contribtutor Terms and other subsidiary documents.

The Foundation's License Working Group presented a proposal document to the members, who accepted it by vote in December 2009. A summary was also presented at the State Of The Map 2009 conference. This process is documented here. We also welcome any review and comment by other bodies working in the open intellectual properties rights arena, and have published an open letter asking for their views.

OSMF members have voted on whether they wish to put the current version of the new license to the community for adoption and then begin the adoption process itself. The results from 270 members polled are:

Approved the process: 132
Did not approve the process: 16
Didn't vote: 122


Approval rate: 89%
Turnout rate: 55%

Personal statements from community members making the case for and against the change are available on the OSM wiki. For the full details of the voting results, see member vote results.

More information

More information including use cases and open issues is available on the OSM wiki.