[OSM-talk] We need to have a conversation about attribution

Rory McCann rory at technomancy.org
Fri Mar 1 16:17:13 UTC 2019

Hi all,

I find this funny in a way. Traditionally, big corps disliked
"share-alike" open source/data licences, like ODbL, GNU GPL (or the
Affero GPL!), and prefer "attribution only" licences like BSD. And here
we have companies not liking the attribution requirement! If they won't
follow our attribution requirement, I doubt they'd follow our
share-alike licence! We've given them the bare minimum requirement
(attribution) and they still drag their feet!

Clearly there are many interpretations of the attribution requirement,
so we need clarity. The LWG's upcoming comments are very interesting,
*especially* what "reasonably calculated".

Personally I've interpreted the req. as "A regular use of the map should
make clear it's from OSM." 'Clicking on the about page', or digging into
the 'credits' web page isn't regular use, so isn't enough. Showing OSM
when the app starts/loads is part of regular use.

If you have other logos, or attribution for other providers, and you can
fit them on your map, then you can afford to put "© OpenStreetMap" too.


On 28/02/2019 23:35, Richard Fairhurst wrote:
> Hi all,
> In recent years some OSM data consumers and "OSM as a service" providers 
> have begun to put the credit to OpenStreetMap behind an click-through 
> 'About', 'Credits', 'Legal' or '(i)' link. Examples:
> https://docs.mapbox.com/help/img/android/android-first-steps-intro.png
> https://www.systemed.net/osm/IMG_1846.PNG
> (This should be obvious but I am in no means meaning to pick on Mapbox 
> or Apple here - as anyone who knows me will testify, I have the utmost 
> respect both for Mapbox's technical chops, their ability to iterate on a 
> compelling product and their success in building the biggest mapping 
> platform using OSM data; and I've been an Apple fanboy since my first 
> Mac IIsi back in, erk, 1992. They're just the two that sprang to mind, 
> bearing in mind that as someone that old, these social networks about 
> photos and stuff are way too modern for me.)
> It should also be said that many providers - the majority - provide 
> attribution in compliance with our policy at osm.org/copyright, i.e. 
> showing attribution in the corner of the map, and in many cases 
> generously going beyond with "Improve this map" pages; and that some 
> providers will do great things like this much of the time and resort to 
> "(i)" or "About" only part of the time.
> The policy, introduced with the changeover to the ODbL, says:
> "We require that you use the credit “© OpenStreetMap contributors”... 
> For a browsable electronic map, the credit should appear in the corner 
> of the map."
> There then follows an example screenshot of a map of Charlbury (woo) 
> with a credit in the corner. The OSM Foundation Legal FAQ is pretty much 
> the same 
> (https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Licence/Licence_and_Legal_FAQ#Where_to_put_it.3F). 
> Historically the aim of requiring attribution has been partly to thank 
> contributors, and partly because it's a virtuous feedback loop. If you 
> see a map and it's wrong or incomplete, seeing "(c) OpenStreetMap" in 
> the corner shows you where the data comes from, so you can go and 
> improve it. That way we get more contributors, the map gets better, it's 
> more valuable to its consumers, so more people use it, so more people 
> improve it... and so on.
> The legal rationale is 4.3 in the Open Database Licence 
> (https://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/1.0/index.html), and in 
> particular "if you Publicly Use a Produced Work, 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". The key phrase is "reasonably calculated" and our view in 
> 2012 was that, since the major mapping providers (Google, 
> Navteq/Nokia/HERE, TomTom etc.) required and implemented on-screen 
> attribution, "reasonably" meant that users would expect a credit to be 
> provided in that way. The OSMF FAQ makes this explicit: "you should 
> expect to credit OpenStreetMap in the same way and with the same 
> prominence as would be expected by any other map supplier".
> Full mea culpa: the /copyright page says "should" rather than "must" 
> purely because I wrote the page, I'm British and I, we, talk like that 
> (http://termcoord.eu/2016/08/the-truth-behind-british-impoliteness/ , 
> especially the "I would suggest" line). It used to say "request" rather 
> than "require" for the same reason. In retrospect I should have realised 
> not everyone is British and we should really have hired a lawyer to 
> review the page. I think that months in the trenches of the licence 
> change had probably given us trench fever for things like that. Entirely 
> my fault and I take full responsibility for it (but you know, it's so 
> great not to have to write 500 monthly mails to legal-talk@ any more).
> So we need to decide what our response is to web/in-app maps that do not 
> provide attribution in the manner requested by osm.org/copyright. This 
> response might be:
> a) we are happy for attribution to be behind a credits screen and we 
> will update our requirements to say so
> b) we will informally tolerate attribution being behind a credits screen 
> but we do not intend to update our requirements
> c) we are not happy for attribution to be behind a credits screen and we 
> will update our requirements to say so
> d) we are not happy for attribution to be behind a credits screen and we 
> will update our requirements to say so, and we will proactively seek out 
> data consumers that contravene these requirements
> e) or many other options... fill in your suggestion here :)
> Ultimately this decision has to come from the community. The rights in 
> OSM data, as the Contributor Terms makes clear, are held by the 
> contributors. OSMF is "using and sublicensing" it, under the terms that 
> you grant to OSMF, but you own the rights. OSMF is not able to license 
> away the rights of mappers.
> There has been a lot of chatter over recent years about this issue but 
> the issue has never really broken through. Let's talk about it openly, 
> honestly and respectfully and get it sorted out for the benefit of both 
> mappers and data consumers.
> cheers
> Richard
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