[OSM-legal-talk] Best-Practise to use OSM data in games

Jonathan Harley jon at spiffymap.net
Thu May 10 15:19:48 BST 2012

On 10/05/12 14:01, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> I am re-posting this from 
> http://help.openstreetmap.org/questions/12656/best-practise-to-use-osm-data-in-games. 
> The original author is "dertom95".
>              -------------------------------
> Is there really a way to use osm-data in games that comply the odbl?

My replies below relate only to ODbL.
(Under the current CC-BY-SA, the game itself would probably have to be 
distributed as CC-BY-SA.)

> I will try to play this through using the example of a "virtual" 
> game:"Simcity OSM" and Mark questions with Qn:
> Let's say the game should use only street,river and rail-data and the 
> task of the game would be to build up a new city based on the given 
> osm-data.
> Workflow: 1) I build a converter that takes osm-data and produces the 
> reduced data (filtering streets,rails,rivers and mapping to my own 
> coordinate-system). Since this already is a derivate this data is 
> under odbl again. There seems to be two options:
> a)provide the data as data-files
> b)provide the converter that produces the filtered data in 
> readable-form (e.g. xml)
> Q1) Is that right understood? If choosing b) The game itself can use a 
> proprietary version of that data?

Yes. It doesn't even have to be human-readable, like XML; ODbL says 
"machine readable". Binary is fine as long as there is information on 
how a machine can read it.

> 2) The game reads the data as created by the converter, meaning that I 
> have something like a "live-version" of my new odbl derivate. When I 
> now build a house at coordinate x/y I would have changed the 
> database-again, meaning this need to be provided somehow!?
> Q2) Creating this live "fantasy-data" still creates a derivate, right? 
> So would a live-export-function be ok, sufficent or even not 
> necessary? (Actually it sounds like a quite cool idea :D)

I think you're right that the "live data", including "fantasy data" 
created by the user, is a derivative database, assuming the new fantasy 
items are placed in locations that are influenced by the locations of 
OSM features. But it's not necessary to provide a way of accessing it, 
if that player's data is not published to anyone else.

> Q3) If there would be this "live-data" option, would be providing the 
> converter still be necessary?

I think you would have to provide either the converter or the derived 
database, because you're publishing it to players; but you can't 
reasonably require someone to sign up as a player just to get your 
derivative database. You have to make it available to anyone who asks, 
player or not.

If one player's data is published to other players, ie if it's a 
multi-player game, then you would have to make that data available along 
with your starting database.

> 3) Of course inside the game it is mentioned (in the credits!?) that 
> the data is a derivate of osm.

Yes, and make it clear that it's available under ODbL.

> Conclusion: To be honest, while writing this, I don't see a problem 
> anymore, as there wouldn't be a problem for me to provide something 
> like "live-views" of the data. But it would be nice to hear some 
> comments if I'm right, about the way to handle the data!?

Hope this helps. (I have some PHP programming that I'm avoiding, so it 
was a welcome diversion to write this commentary.)


Dr Jonathan Harley   :    Managing Director    :   SpiffyMap Ltd

md at spiffymap.com      Phone: 0845 313 8457     www.spiffymap.com
The Venture Centre, Sir William Lyons Road, Coventry CV4 7EZ, UK

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