Working Group Minutes/EWG 2011-10-10


IRC nick Real name
apmon Kai Krueger
emacsen Serge Wroclawski
RichardF Richard Fairhurst
springmeyer Dane Springmeyer
stevesn_ Steve Singer
TomH Tom Hughes
zere Matt Amos


  • No-one tried out TomH's rails3 branch.
  • We picked up SteveSn's question from last week: "has someone tried talking to some of the map vendors using our tile-server to find out what the road blocks are for them to run there own?"
    • There has been some contact on forums with tile scraper writers.
    • It may be that the scraper authors simply do not realise that what they do causes an issue and may not be aware of the tile usage policy.
    • Emacsen suggested that this might be useful as a revenue stream for OSMF.
    • Many thought that a more direct message on the tile usage policy page would be useful (SteveSn suggested "Pre downloading tiles from the OSM servers are prohibited. Any tiles that a user views during a map browsing session can be saved or cached for later use but pre fetching of tiles is forbidden due to the load it imposes on own servers. Applications that wish to offer pre-fetching functionality should use a commercial tile provider or run their own tile server")
    • The issue of usage policy (along with suggested change) will be referred to the OWG.


18:02 < zere> last week's minutes:
18:02 < zere> let me know if there are any corrections / objections?
18:04 < stevensn_> no objections
18:04 < RichardF> looks good to me.
18:04 < zere> thanks :-)
18:05 < zere> on to actions: did anyone try out TomH's rails3 branch?
18:05 < zere> i intended to but, like emacsen, i must hang my head in shame...
18:06 < zere> the next one was on apmon to send an email to talk-de. anything on that, apmon?
18:07 -!- iandees [~iandees@] has joined #osm-ewg
18:08 < zere> ok... finally, i was supposed to clean up / reorganise the page, but again, i am shamed.
18:09 < TomH> it's now on rails 3.1.1 and I have open pull requests to fix issues in composite_primary_keys and passenger
18:09 < zere> is 3.1.1 the latest?
18:09 < TomH> as of last friday or something, yes
18:10 < zere> haha - so recent that has 3.1.0 as the latest version :-)
18:13 < zere> while i was compiling the last week's minutes, i noticed that stevensn_ had asked an interesting question: "has someone tried talking to some of the map vendors using our tile-server to find out what the road blocks are for them to run there own?"
18:13 < RichardF> that _is_ an interesting question.
18:13 < zere> stevensn_: did you mean map vendors as in MOBAC and other apps which scrape the tiles, or people like cloudmade / MQ, both?
18:14 < stevensn_> app vendors that scrape the tile
18:14 < zere> ok, presumably not cloudmade / MQ - as they *do* run their own tile servers.
18:14 < zere> i should think before typing more often ;-)
18:15 < zere> i think Firefishy had some 'contact' with some of those vendors on their forums, but i can't seem to find the link.
18:16 < RichardF> some have surfaced. Zsombor Szabo (sp?) is developer of OpenMaps and has posted to the lists.
18:17 < stevensn_> did he post a list of issues/roadblocks/difficulties he had when he tried to setup his own tile server?
18:17 < zere> the MOBAC forum seems to have some discussions, e.g:
18:18 < RichardF> stevensn_: no. He's made vague noises about "I realise vector rendering is the way to go" but that's it
18:20 < zere> is it that these app vendors don't consider the generation of tiles to really be within the scope of the app?
18:20 < apmon> A MOBAC author replied in the german forum thread on tile download limiting ""
18:20 < RichardF> I don't think it's that complex. They get away with it while they can - they may not even realise there could be an issue.
18:21 < iandees> more tile sources = more features = more downloads = more money?
18:21 < emacsen>  the other thing that keeps coming up with these folks is they'd be willing to pay. I think it's not about setting up a server for them. They don't want to change their business model
18:21 < stevensn_> At SOTM/FOSS4G I spoke with a number of people who didn't realize that the OSM tile server wasn't for there apps, Communicating that better to app vendors is one issue (maybe not for the EWG to solve) but the complexity of setting up a tileserver is on-topic for us, I'm just not sure we know what the issues are.  The issues someone unfamiliar with OSM is having might be different than what we think the issues are
18:22 < emacsen> (some of them express willingness to pay)
18:22 < zere> wow, google translate really mangles this forum thread: "Evenually, all 2s nurnoch comes to a tile." --??!?!
18:23 < stevensn_> Are the commercial OSM vendors (MQ,cloudmade,geofabrick etc...) not meeting the needs of those willing to pay?
18:23 < RichardF> with the iPhone guys (I don't know about Android), I suspect the equation is as simple as RouteMe+some UI code+appstore account=PROFIT!!!
18:23 < emacsen> stevensn_, I think it's two things. 1. They don't know about them 2. I think theres a genuine willingness and desire to pay the project, not a third party
18:23 < apmon> MOBAC doesn't have any finances, it is not commercial. He said he could add a donation link to osm into the app though
18:23 < zere> well, the MQ open setup is totally free. afaik, it's fully available for scraping ;-)
18:24 < apmon> which doesn't really solve the problem
18:24 < emacsen> stevensn_, it's why people are more willing to buy a DVD of a Sita Sings the Blues than download + donate
18:26 < zere> so i guess the questions are (following emacsen) 1) is there anything we can do to make it easier for potential tile scraping authors to find out that it's not acceptable on OSM and be pointed towards places where it might be acceptable?
18:26 < zere> and 2) given that donations are potentially non-helpful to us, is there anything we could ask for that would be helpful?
18:27 < zere> e.g: for (2) would "if you run an OSM tile proxy cache server then you can scrape that as much as you like as long as we get to use it too"?
18:28 < apmon> for 1) would it help to have a link to the tile usage policy in a standard openlayers attribution tag?
18:28 < RichardF> 1 could be a CWG issue too. Do you want us (CWG) to look into it?
18:28 < stevensn_> zere: The tile-usage policy (last time I checked, a few weeks ago) was somewhat vague, I don't think it ever said in explicit language 'if your distributing a mobile app, don't have it use our tile-servers'  and then there is the question of how you make sure people are aware of the policy
18:28 < apmon> It is currently under "Copyright and License", but having it at the standard place might be more obviouse
18:28 < emacsen> I think that (2) won't work because if they wanted to run a service, they'd run a tile service. Sorry to bring us on this tangent, it just seems odd to me to look for technical solutions to business problems
18:29 < zere> RichardF: yeah, sure. the more heads the merrier :-)
18:30 < zere> stevensn_: but we do want people to use our tile servers - we just don't want them to scrape the tiles.
18:32 < zere> emacsen: i agree - if there's no chance of these people buying from a tile vendor or running their own tile server then all we can do is block them...
18:32 < emacsen> or let them pay us :)
18:32 < emacsen> whatever...
18:32 < emacsen> I say no need to fight a battle we can't win when the outcome would help us :)
18:33 < emacsen> but that's another group's battle
18:33 < stevensn_> then we need to be clearer about the difference between acceptable use and non acceptable uses, reading the wiki page it is unclear to me what types of usage below zoom <17 is forbidden versus acceptable
18:33 < apmon> having a copyright and terms of use link at the standard location, might also help more people adhering to the attribution requirement
18:34 < TomH> attribution is important sure, but the major issue is our bandwidth usage and the number of traffic flows we are generating
18:36 < apmon> which is why the terms of use link points to the tile usage policy
18:37 -!- pnorman [~pnorman@] has joined #osm-ewg
18:38 < stevensn_> are there any actionable items from this discusson? Is there any technical or documentation improvements that can be proposed at this time?
18:39 < iandees> i think it would help to be more direct with the Tile Usage Policy wiki page
18:40 < RichardF> +1
18:41 < zere> ok. what changes would you make?
18:42 < iandees> i think stevensn_ mentioned something earlier... be more direct about what the expected uses for are
18:42 < RichardF> AFAICT the problem is that people aren't comprehending the "Heavy Users" section.
18:42 < RichardF> so we may need to elevate that to a "must" and move it up top.
18:43 < stevensn_> it also isn't clear what a heavy user is, is 100 tiles a day a heavy user or 1 million tiles a day a heavy user?
18:43 < zere> i don't think it's possible to put a hard limit on it like that.
18:43 < iandees> i think when i see a scraper show up in #osm i say something like "anything beyond what a regular web browser would request during a normal web browsing session is heavy use"
18:43 < RichardF> I wonder if we should also upgrade the "strongly discouraged" in bulk downloading to "forbidden".
18:45 < zere> 1 million tiles from a real-life mapper, using the website to look at his changes and plan mapping activities is fine. 100 tiles from a scraper is also probably fine. the line is drawn wherever the scaping activity inhibits our ability to serve tiles to our mappers, no?
18:45 < zere> so is it that the line can be drawn at "non-interactive use"?
18:46 < stevensn_> 'Pre downloading tiles from the OSM servers are prohibited.  Any tiles that a user views during a map browsing session can be saved or cached for later use but pre fetching of tiles is forbidden due to the load it imposes on own servers.   Applications that wish to offer pre-fetching functionality should use a commercial tile provider or run their own tile server'
18:46 < emacsen> I'd say any automated process
18:46 < emacsen> that' more clear than interactive user
18:50 < zere> ok. i think this is primarily an OWG issue, but i will forward this suggested change onto them and we'll see what the reaction is. sounds good?
18:50 < emacsen> yeah I said this is not a EWG issue
18:50 < stevensn_> sounds good
18:51 < emacsen> sorry wrong window, but applies here as well :)
18:54 < zere> awesome. uhhh... with 5 minutes left - anything else to discuss?
18:55 < emacsen> I suck. My ssd ran out of space
18:55 < emacsen> I am ordering a new one so I can continue with the VMs
18:56 -!- springmeyer [] has joined #osm-ewg
19:00 -!- booo [] has joined #osm-ewg
19:03 < zere> uhhh, hi springmeyer and boo. i think we were just about to wind up the meeting, i'm afraid. unless you've got something to quickly discuss?
19:05 < springmeyer> nope, just figured i'd idle here to make it easier to catch the next one
19:06 < zere> cool. thanks to everyone for coming! and see you at the next one - 5pm GMT monday 17th.