[Osmf-talk] Regarding tile licensing

Christoph Hormann chris_hormann at gmx.de
Tue Jun 18 15:21:46 UTC 2019

The agenda for the next board meeting has the possible change in the
license terms in the rendered map tiles from osm.org on the agenda:


I would like to urge the board to be careful about choosing to
distribute produced works under a license that does not explicitly
require compliance with the ODbL.

If the OSMF distributes rendered map tiles under CC-BY 4.0 without any
further conditions users according to my understanding may rightfully
assume that they can do anything with those that is covered by CC-BY.
Since CC-BY 4.0 explicitly includes database rights that would cover
extraction/reverse engineering any semantic information from the
rendered map (like OCRing names) which could then be considered
detached from the ODbL.

Of course the OSMF would under the contributor terms not be allowed to
effectively grant others the right to use OSM data under terms other
than the ODbL without having a vote among active constributors first.
But those who'd use the tiles under CC-BY don't know that and cannot be
expected to know that - for them the tiles would be just like any other
map licensed under CC-BY.

In other words: While the ODbL allows data users to license their own
rights in a produced work under any terms they like the ODbL still
applies to the data contained in the produced work.  For anyone other
than the OSMF this is implicitly the case.  If I create a map based on
OSM data i can release it under CC0 the OSMF could still require
everyone using the map to comply with the ODbL.  If however the OSMF
licenses a map rendering under CC-BY, not explicitly excluding the data
contained in the map from the license, it cannot the next day sue the
user to comply with the ODbL when using data from that map because the
user would then simply point to having been given permission to do so
under CC-BY.

Christoph Hormann

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