[OSM-legal-talk] Using OSM data without modifying - are there any guidelines?

Tom Lee tlee at mapbox.com
Sat Jun 27 15:02:01 UTC 2015

> Which nicely illustrates that should the OSM database not
> be found to be worthy of sui generis database protection (a distinct
> possibility), the ODbL would clearly be enforceable based on contract law.

Of course you're right that contracts can be used to create obligations
outside of copyright or database right--but only if the parties enter such
a contract. In the Ryanair case, PR Aviation was collecting information
from Ryanair's site, and the court held that accessing the site amounted to
entering a contractual relationship (as defined by the site TOS).

But of course OSM extracts and snapshots are available all over the web,
and from interfaces that don't introduce or even mention any contractual
relationship with OSMF as a condition of download (whether the user is an
OSM contributor or has used OSMF-owned services directly might be relevant
here). A lawyer commenting on the post you provided explains the dynamic


Naturally enforceable property rights via the ODbL attach to the data even
when there is no contract. But not to data that is excluded from such
property rights by law, such as IDs.

As you point out, in practice this seems unlikely to matter here: the
Fairhurst Doctrine is a useful and thoughtful policy statement from the
community about what it intends to do with the property rights it does
have, and it seems to clearly indicate that OSMF isn't interested in
asserting claims over trivial use of IDs, whether or not the rights
underlying such claims exist.
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