Difference between revisions of "Licence/Licence and Legal FAQ"

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You may optionally qualify the credit to explain what OSM content you are using. For example, if you have rendered OSM data to your own design, you may wish to use "Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors".
You may optionally qualify the credit to explain what OSM content you are using. For example, if you have rendered OSM data to your own design, you may wish to use "Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors".
(If you are using map tiles supplied by us, you must also make it clear that the tiles are available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 licence. This may also be fulfilled by linking to www.openstreetmap.org/copyright.)
=== Where to put it? ===
=== Where to put it? ===

Latest revision as of 14:53, 29 October 2020

What is the licence, how can I use it?

This FAQ is for anyone who wants to use OpenStreetMap geodata for making maps, routing, location or any other purpose. You do not need to register with the OpenStreetMap project. OpenStreetMap geodata is freely available to anyone.

The OpenStreetMap Geodata Licence

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 licence. The most important thing about the licence is that you do not have to pay anybody anything to use the data. There are NO copyright, licence, 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 do not make any changes to OpenStreetMap data, then you are unlikely to have a "Share Alike" obligation. But, 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 licence is the Open Database License (ODbL). Here is the human readable summary and here is the full text.

Legal Bit! Please note that none of this is legal advice. We are but a small not-for-profit, with a goal of publishing big, useful data.

I am using your older data

Data contributed prior to September 2012 continues to be available from our archives under "CC-BY-SA", the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike version 2.0.

Both licences are broadly the same, you can use the data without payment, provided that you "Attribute" and "Share Alike". However, the new licence 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 licences. In short, we want even more people to use our data.

Legal Bit! Under "CC-BY-SA", the individual contributors, not the Foundation, were the licensors of the data.

Is it really free?


But if you would like to support the project please donate.

What about map tiles?

If your application is going to directly serve map tiles from tile.openstreetmap.org, we ask you to observe our tile usage policy. You can also use your own tile server or a commercial provider ... see links on tile usage policy page. Map tiles in the "standard" style provided on openstreetmap.org are published on terms of an ODbL 1.0 "Produced Work" since July 1st 2020, see https://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright for attribution information.

Are there any special conditions or restrictions for commercial or academic use?

No. Anyone, personal, academic, government, commercial ..., has rights to use our data under equal terms. Our license says, "... These rights explicitly include commercial use, and do not exclude any field of endeavour."

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?


The Foundation is contractually bound to all OpenStreetMap individual contributors to license the data only under a specific licence. Currently, this is ODbL 1.0. The Foundation has the right to change that licence 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.

Copyright to individual contributions remains with the contributor and their consent can be asked directly. 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 licence.

I want to use an OSM map in my project. Can OpenStreetMap Foundation sign my release form?

Probably not. Release forms typically include several clauses that OSMF cannot agree to:

1) Ownership. OSMF is not the owner of the data. OSMF receives non-exclusive rights from its contributors.

2) Complete waiver. OSMF cannot waive of rights of contributors other than what those contributors have granted under the Contributor Agreement and applicable open license (ODbL). If your use falls within what the ODbL (or law, such as fair use) permits, you do not need a further grant. If your use falls outside such permissions, you would need to seek permission from the contributors, not OSMF.

3) Indemnity & warranty. As a small non-profit, OSMF does not provide any indemnification or warranty.

If you have a release form that does not contain any of these clauses, you may submit it for our review at legal-questions@osmfoundation.org Please note our reviewers are volunteers and may not be able to respond immediately. Based on our past experience, in many instances where entities are seeking release forms, the entities intend to use an OSM map in a way that is already permitted under ODbL, provided that attribution is properly given. In such cases a release would not be necessary. Please review the Community Guidelines and Attribution requirements to see if your use would qualify.

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?

Our requested attribution is "© OpenStreetMap contributors".
You must make it clear that the data is available under the Open Database Licence. This can be achieved by providing a "License" or "Terms" link which links to www.openstreetmap.org/copyright or www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl.

We ask that you hyperlink the attribution to www.openstreetmap.org where possible. Because OpenStreetMap is its contributors, you may omit the word "contributors" if space is limited.

You may optionally qualify the credit to explain what OSM content you are using. For example, if you have rendered OSM data to your own design, you may wish to use "Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors".

Where to put it?

This credit needs to appear in a place that is 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 would be expected by any other map supplier. Therefore:

  • 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, film or video 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. For productions with end credits, we would also welcome a credit there.
  • 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.
  • If you are producing library code that offers OpenStreetMap data or tiles, you should make sure library users are aware of these terms. We strongly recommend that you display this credit by default when your library is used.

What do you mean by Share-Alike?

If you publicly use any adapted version of our database, or a partial extraction from it, or works (such as maps) produced from an adapted database, you must also offer that adapted database under the ODbL.

In other words, if you improve our data and then distribute it, you need to share your improvements with the general public at no charge. A painless way to do that is to contribute your improvements directly back to OpenStreetMap.

Share-Alike only applies if you distribute what you have done to outside people or organisations. You can do what you like at home, or in your school, organisation or company ... the following section does not apply to you.

What exactly do I need to share?

ODbL draws a distinction between data, (geodata), and works produced from the data, (maps). You are probably distributing data if you are involved in searching, routing, geocoding. You are probably distributing maps if you print paper maps, have a website with map tiles, or are displaying a map as part of a larger work such as a television show, film, advertisement or book. Sometimes, you may be doing both, for example games production, such as a flight simulator, may involve producing a 3D world and using geodata directly to generate a list of destinations.

In brief summary:

  • If you correct or extend our data, you need to share your new data.
  • If you make a map from our data, you may publish the map itself under any license you like, including commercial. You DO however, have to share the underlying data, including anything that you have added, except that ...
  • You may also add separate and distinct layers to your map made from other sources of data. This data does not have to be shared, provided there is no interaction with the OpenStreetMap derived layer. For example, you cannot have a layer of restaurant icons that only appear if the same restaurant is not in OpenStreetMap!

In more detail:

If you are distributing geodata derived wholly or in part from OpenStreetMap, you need to do that under the ODbL.

  • If you enhance OpenStreetMap 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 Database".
  • 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 Database". The ODbL clearly states that Share-Alike does not apply to the other parts of a Collective Database.

If you make a map from OpenStreetMap geodata and publish it, you may publish the map under any license you like. In ODbL parlance, this is known as a "Produced Work".

  • If the map is in a larger work, like a book or a TV program or a website or an advertisement, that larger work can be under any license you like. Share-Alike does not apply to the larger work. We, for example, use CC-BY-SA, but that is our voluntary choice.
  • However, if you have added to or enhanced our data in order to make the map, you must make those additions publicly available without charge. Also, anyone can extract the original data from the map, (such as latitude and longitudes, names of streets and places), without paying you or asking your permission.
  • You can however, put separate and distinct data layers on top of your map, such as icons showing specialists points of interest, routes, track logs, shaded areas, contours and the like, then Share-Alike does not apply to these elements as long as they do not interact with the map underneath.

Can I use OSM data and OpenStreetMap-derived maps to verify my own data without triggering share-alike?

Yes, provided that you are only comparing and do not copy any OpenStreetMap data. If you make any changes to your data after making the comparison, you should be able to reasonably demonstrate that any such change was made either from your own physical observation or comes from a non-OpenStreetMap source accessed directly by you. I.e you can compare but not take!

  • Example 1: You notice that a street is called one name on your map and another in OpenStreetMap. You should visit the street and check the name, then you are free to put that name in your data as it is your own observation.
  • Example 2: You notice that a boundary is different in your data and OpenStreetMap. You should check back to original authoritative sources and make any correction required.

I would like to import data XYZ, can I just go ahead?


  • The licence of XYZ dataset needs to be compatible with our ODBL 1.0 license and/or you have informed the licence owner and obtained their consent.
  • Also note that if XYZ's licence is incompatible with future OSM distribution licences the relevant data will be removed.
  • You need to consult with the OpenStreetMap community as to whether the data is relevant and can be imported in a manner that improves rather than degrades our map. See our OpenStreetMap Community Import Guideline

Can third-party ODbL-licensed data be imported?

Yes, in principle it can.

Whether it should be is another matter, see "I would like to import data XYZ, can I just go ahead?".

As with any other data import, if the licence is incompatible with future distribution licences the relevant data will be removed. This should always be a factor in deciding whether a particular import is worthwhile.

Can I copy from google or other similar sources?


Only sources for which we have explicit permission (for example global aerial imagery provided by bing and Mapbox) or which is out of copyright (often difficult to determine) or has licence terms that are compatible with our distribution licence may be used.

Specifically there are no services provided by google that have terms of service or licences that allow them to be used. Further google services are not a reliable source of geographic data, they are vehicles for transporting advertising and gathering behavioural data and tend to be biased in many ways.

Do not forget that OpenStreetMap is not a project to explore legal grey areas of copyright and contract law, it is a global project to provide free to use, open and legally untainted geo data. Please do not endanger it by trying to take shortcuts.

What should my lawyer look at?

If you are a potential end user and need to do a legal review before using OpenStreetMap data, here is what we suggest your lawyer or legal department look at:

  • The OpenStreetMap Contributor Terms. This acts as the Contents license referred to by ODbL. Note that we have endeavoured to design our licensing system to use just the ODbL license as a "one stop shop" regarding the rights and obligations of end users. It is not our intent for any Contents license to restrict rights further nor to add extra obligations.
  • Community Guidelines These analyse specific legal terms and generic language in the ODbL specifically as it regards our geodata and how it used. For example, what does the EU Database Directive term "Substantial" extraction mean in practical terms. They carry no formal legal weight but do present what the OpenStreetMap community, and therefore the OSM Foundation as publisher, feels to be reasonable and acceptable.

Can I ask the OSMF questions about the licence?

Yes. Within the limits of a purely volunteer run organisation we will try to provide you with an answer. Please however consider that:

  • we cannot provide you with legal advice, you need to ask your counsel for that,
  • we are contractually bound to distribute OSM data under a specific set of licences (currently the ODbL 1.0) and cannot make exceptions,
  • as most licences the ODbL has certain grey areas, particularly when applied to OSM geo-data. We are producing a set of Community_Guidelines that try to clarify certain issues, however we are far from covering all possible use cases.

Please direct all such questions to legal-questions@osmfoundation.org

Background information on the ODBL and the process that led to its adoption

The Open Database License, "ODbL" 1.0, is an Attribution and Share-Alike license for Data/Databases. It was developed by Open Data Commons with input from OpenStreetMap.

It offers clearer protection for OpenStreetMap and better clarity to end users. OpenStreetMap data is offered freely for any use under Attribution and Share Alike terms.

Detailed information about the new license and why it was changed:

More information about CC-BY-SA

You are infringing my copyright

OpenStreetMap contributors are asked never to add data from any copyrighted sources (e.g. Google Maps or printed maps) without explicit permission from the copyright holders.

If you believe that your copyrighted material has been inappropriately added to the OpenStreetMap database or this site, please refer to our takedown procedure or file directly at our on-line filing page.

Licence vs. License

The OpenStreetMap project was founded in the UK and uses British English in which "licence" is the noun and "license" is the verb. Most links on this site should work with the American English noun "license", but there are likely a small number that will only work with one or the other.