[OSM-legal-talk] CC-IGO compatibility with OSM

Dolf Andringa dolfandringa at gmail.com
Mon Nov 29 03:30:44 UTC 2021

Hi all,

In the OSM Philippines group there has been some discussion about a dataset
with municipal boundaries and it's compatibility with OSM. This dataset
traditionally has been prohibited from being used in OSM by the Philippine
government after requests by OSM-PH community members. Multiple attempts
have been made, and even a version of the data that had been published by
NOAH after a joint project with the PH government, had to be taken down
again after the government's request.
Recently though, the same dataset was published by OCHA Philippines, a UN


The metadata explicitly states that the data originated from the Philippine
government (NAMRIA and PSA are government agencies), and publishes it under
the "Creative Commons for Intergovernmental Organisation" (CC BY-IGO)
The summary of that license explicitly states:

Under the CC BY-IGO license, you are free to share (copy and redistribute
> the material in any medium or format) and or adapt (remix, transform, and
> build upon the material) for any purpose, even commercially. The licensor
> cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms. The
> license terms are that you must give appropriate credit, provide a link to
> the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any
> reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses
> you or your use. Additionally, you may not apply legal terms or
> technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the
> license permits. When the Licensor is an intergovernmental organization,
> disputes will be resolved by mediation and arbitration unless otherwise
> agreed.

which to me sounds compatible with OSM, since even commercial use is
explicitly allowed. Now what I am unclear about is the IGO side. It sounds
to me that the license says that IF the licensor is an IGO, the conditions
of arbitration are settled. To me it sounds like whether or not the
licensor is an IGO (which it is in this case I think, since OCHA is part of
the UN), the data  can still be used by anyone (private person, NGO, IGO,
businesses, etc). Or does it mean the data can only be used by IGO's as
well? So businesses, private people, NGO's, etc are not allowed to use the
data at all? If it's the latter, the license is a bit confusing since it
explicitly allows commercial use, which at least to someone without a legal
background sounds like any company can use it too.

So the main question I have is: Is the CC BY-IGO compatible with a private
person using that data to contribute to OSM (as long as credit is given and

Secondly, if it turns out there is intergovernmental politics at play, and
the data was contributed by OCHA under the CC BY-IGO without prior approval
from the PH government (NAMRIA/PSA), am I legally in the right to use that
data in the meantime? Of course if I'm notified the license was wrong and I
need to take the changeset down, I will, but as long as the data is there,
under that license, am I ok?


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