[Talk-us] Imports-us Digest, Vol 24, Issue 1

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Thu Jan 1 06:48:04 UTC 2015

(cross-posting from imports-us to talk-us)

>On 12/31/2014 1:48 PM, stevea wrote:
>>  That is true, thank you Nathan Proudfoot.  For the Union Pacific, I
>>  was disappointed that their web site requires a (UP employee?) login
>>  and password to gain access to their geographic rail data.  BNSF seems
>>  a bit better (providing "high level" rail maps at a nationwide
>>  glance), and other railroads are probably somewhere around "you get
>>  what you get," but please do take Nathan's good advice and seek data
>>  directly from a rail entity as a good first strategy for obtaining
>>  track/lead/line/subdivision names, for example.

Paul Norman writes:
>In my experience these types of companies seldom provide anything under
>a usable license - is this different for US-based rail company databases?

This is a very important consideration; all data 
entered into OSM (from such sources) must be ODBL 
compatible.  As I look at, for example, the BNSF 
(carload_map.pdf) file that Nathan Proudfoot 
pointed to, it definitely says "© 2011 BNSF 
Railway" so this is the sort of source OSM cannot 
use to originate data.

However, federal data or data from states where 
there are "liberal" public records law (for 
example, the California Public Utilities 
Commission "Rail Crossing List" listing Primary 
Rail Organization as top-level entities and the 
names of their subdivision), I believe these 
public sourced data origins are perfectly OK as 
they originate as public data at the nexus of a 
Citizen of that state placing the data into OSM 
as a volunteer who has agreed to the Contributor 

Be careful, everybody.  Public data in a "public 
record data friendly state"?  OK.  Copyrighted 
data directly from (say) the website of a rail 
company?  Not OK.

What I'm not quite sure about are federal records 
such as FRA records (as I believe Oak Ridge data 
are).  These would be covered under, say, a FOIA 
request, and so are quite similar to the same 
nexus argument as state records, only under 
federal law, not state law.

Happy New Year,

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