[OSM-legal-talk] Contents Licence for OSM Data

Robert Whittaker (OSM lists) robert.whittaker+osm at gmail.com
Fri Oct 31 17:00:08 UTC 2014

The discussion in this thread seems to have been side-tracked by
discussion of the White paper. That was only supposed to be an aside
to explain how I come across the issue. The main question to which I
was looking for an answer, was the following:

"So can I enquire as to exactly what the content licence is for OSM's
geodata, and suggest that it is made clearer on the pages linked

The ODbL explicitly states that a separate licence is needed for the
contents of an ODbL-licensed database, and it seem that this isn't
currently specified explicitly on the relevant OSM
copyright/attribution pages. It presumably should be.



On 29 October 2014 09:05, Robert Whittaker (OSM lists)
<robert.whittaker+osm at gmail.com> wrote:
> The ODbL that we now use for OSM data technically only applies to the
> database, and not to individual contents contained within it. For
> that, the ODbL says you need a separate licence [1]. I was under the
> impression that for OSM's data this licence was the ODC's Database
> Contents Licence (DbCL) [2].
> It therefore surprised me when I read the White Paper at [3], which
> said that uncertainty over the content licence was a problem for
> downstream users.
> When I went to check what the content licence was, I was unable to
> find any definitive information where I would expect to find it; i.e.
> at http://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright or
> http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Legal_FAQ or
> http://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/License . The latter two seem to
> suggest that the OSM Contributor Terms [4] act as a content licence,
> but I don't see how that's possible, since the Contributor Terms are
> concerned with people giving rights and assurances to OSMF, rather
> than OSMF providing rights to data users. The Contributor Terms
> themselves mention the DbCL as one of the possible licences OSMF can
> use, but don't actually say that OSMF are using it for current data
> downloads.
> So can I enquire as to exactly what the content licence is for OSM's
> geodata, and suggest that it is made clearer on the pages linked
> above?
> I guess some people may argue that the individual data items in OSM
> are facts and so aren't copyrightable anyway. However, it's not
> obvious to me that this is necessarily the case for all the data items
> (there are certainly some things in OSM that are subject to creative
> judgement) and it would seem that uncertainty over the content licence
> is a real issue for data users. Even if an explicit content licence
> may not be necessary, it would surely be good to soecify one like the
> DbCL anyway.
> Thanks,
> Robert.
> [1] http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/
> [2] http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/dbcl/1-0/
> [3] http://spatiallaw.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/the-odbl-and-openstreetmap-analysis-and.html
> [4] http://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/License/Contributor_Terms
> --
> Robert Whittaker

Robert Whittaker

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