[OSM-legal-talk] Tracing from Google Earth (aerial imagery)

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Wed Jun 3 15:40:53 BST 2009

bap wrote:
> I think I have done the work of recognizing the features 
> from Google's photo and Google certainly doesn't restrict 
> what I can do with the KML file I export, so can I use this
> method to draw OSM maps?

Disclaimer: I never use Google Earth, I've only looked at the Ts & Cs for
Google Maps and the Google Maps API, and they may differ.

Two things to consider in direct answer to your question.

First of all: copyright - is derivation from copyrighted aerial imagery
(without permission) an infringing act under copyright? I've researched this
quite a bit in the last couple of weeks and am now pretty confident that it
isn't. I've copied and pasted a bunch of stuff (unformatted) at

Secondly: contract - i.e. what it says in the Google Ts & Cs. The Maps API
terms look to me as if they might permit it. It doesn't, to me, look as if
whoever drafted them had this question in mind. But I think it needs a bit
more study.

And one more thing:

Don't do it. At least not yet. OSM has a whiter-than-white policy on sources
- it's kind of what sets us apart from the Wikicr^H^Hmapias of this world.
We want to spend our time mapping, not defending lawsuits from Google. If we
can get some more clarity with proper legal opinions and maybe even a
statement from Google themselves, all to the good, and maybe this is the
time to start the conversation. But do not not not not not not not do it
until then.

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