[OSM-legal-talk] How to stop violation of OSM copyright by Mapbox?

Mateusz Konieczny matkoniecz at tutanota.com
Sun Mar 3 09:49:08 UTC 2019

Note that in this I focus specifically on Mapbox, but they are not
unique in repeatedly "forgetting" to properly attribute OSM while
prominently featuring their own logo.

For start I would be thankful for fact check - are facts that I listed
below actually facts or are hilarious misrepresentation of a legal

tl;dr: Mapbox in at least some situations hides OSM attribution while
displaying their own logo and recommends to others to do the same.
Mapbox failed to fix problem that I reported to them in December 2018.


For long time I hoped that it will be done by somebody else but it
appears less and less likely.

I am irritated that despite attribution requirement almost all people
using OSM data have no chance to learn that they are doing this.

It is caused by data consumers routinely ignoring attribution
requirements, in many case presenting OSM data like it was collected by
their company.


Most things will have notes how sure I am about them as I may be making
hilarious misinterpretations. In such cases I would be thankful for an
explanation how I am mistaken.

OSM data is ODBL licensed (100% sure)

as specified at https://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright <https://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright>

text of ODBL license is at
https://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/1.0/index.html <https://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/1.0/index.html> (100% sure)

as specified at https://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright <https://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright>

ODBL requires attribution (100% sure)

ODBL gives some minimal limits that attribution must fulfill (99% sure)

"You must include a notice associated with
the Produced Work reasonably calculated to make any Person that uses,
views, accesses, interacts with, or is otherwise exposed to the Produced
Work aware that Content was obtained from the Database, Derivative
Database, or the Database as part of a Collective Database, and that it
is available under this License."

ODBL minimal limits are not fulfilled by attribution not
displayed when map is displayed full screen at a modern smartphone
(95% sure)

For reference: I tested it on Xiaomi Redmi 4
- 5.0 inches, 68.9 cm2
- 1080 x 1920 pixels
https://www.gsmarena.com/xiaomi_redmi_4_prime-8263.php <https://www.gsmarena.com/xiaomi_redmi_4_prime-8263.php>

Individual mappers have no legal standing against entities using OSM
data without attribution (filing DMCA notices, suing etc) (75% sure)

OSMF has legal standing against entities
using OSM data without attribution (99% sure)

I am not a Mapbox hater
(100% sure)

I am focusing on Mapbox here. It does not mean that that others are
much better. It only means that I started digging in attribution
situation after encountering map hosted by them that was missing
attribution and I want to fix before proceeding to the next copyright

Mapbox is in some situations using OSM data without giving a proper
attribution (95% sure)

For example see https://www.mapbox.com/maps/ <https://www.mapbox.com/maps/> - only one map is
attributed to OSM (though it is still in a way suggesting that part of
data is copyrighted by Mapbox - "© Mapbox © OpenStreetMap")

Or see "view live map" from https://www.mapbox.com/maps/streets/ <https://www.mapbox.com/maps/streets/>
leading to
https://api.mapbox.com/styles/v1/mapbox/streets-v9.html?title=true&access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoibWFwYm94IiwiYSI6ImNpejY4M29iazA2Z2gycXA4N2pmbDZmangifQ.-g_vE53SD2WrJ6tFX7QHmA#1.07/-1.4/4.7 <https://api.mapbox.com/styles/v1/mapbox/streets-v9.html?title=true&access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoibWFwYm94IiwiYSI6ImNpejY4M29iazA2Z2gycXA4N2pmbDZmangifQ.-g_vE53SD2WrJ6tFX7QHmA#1.07/-1.4/4.7>

on my Xiaomi Redmi 4 with following screen

- 5.0 inches, 68.9 cm2
- 1080 x 1920 pixels

it is hiding OSM attribution while displaying Mapbox attribution.

See screenshot at
https://user-images.githubusercontent.com/899988/51281667-67210a80-19e3-11e9-807a-480de4fa8eea.png <https://user-images.githubusercontent.com/899988/51281667-67210a80-19e3-11e9-807a-480de4fa8eea.png>

https://docs.mapbox.com/help/tutorials/first-steps-android-sdk/ <https://docs.mapbox.com/help/tutorials/first-steps-android-sdk/>

The very first image recommends to hide OSM attribution - but not
Mapbox logo

https://docs.mapbox.com/help/img/android/android-first-steps-intro.png <https://docs.mapbox.com/help/img/android/android-first-steps-intro.png>

Their main site at https://www.mapbox.com/ <https://www.mapbox.com/> is showing some maps, none
is attributing OSM (and I am suspecting that they are using OSM data
also there).

Mapbox is therefore in some situations illegally using OSM data
(95% sure)

Mapbox ignored my attempts to notify them about this issue
(100% sure)

I contacted them via mapbox.com/contact/support/#attribution <http://mapbox.com/contact/support/#attribution> on
December 2018 and January 2019.

Contact in the first case stopped after I asked them

> So in opinion of Mapbox "click to view" attribution hiding is enough
> to cover "reasonably calculated to make any Person (...)"?

In the second case they refused to answer at all.

I also made a bit desperate attempt to contact them at
https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/lxbarth/diary/21847 <https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/lxbarth/diary/21847> (this user is no
longer active - last edit 6 months ago, last diary entry in 2015 about
his desire to be on OpenStreetMap US board of directors).

Title of this thread is also attempt to get problem noticed by someone
at Mapbox who can fix the mentioned problems (or provide explanation
why it is not a problem).

This is likely to not be a deliberate attempt to misrepresent OSM data
as something owned by Mapbox.
https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/lxbarth/diary/21847 <https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/lxbarth/diary/21847> indicates that
at least in 2014 they were improving

It is possible that it is just treated as one of unimportant issues on
giant pile of bugs that will be never fixed - any serious software
project has hundreds or thousands of those. (status: pure guessing)

13 and final)
I am not sure how to proceed and how to convince Mapbox that missing
attributing is a serious problem that needs to be fixed (and not put on
pile of "low priority bug, will be never fixed") and that following OSM
license is not optional.

For start I would be thankful for fact check - are facts that I listed
actually facts or are hilarious misrepresentation of a legal situation?
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