[OSM-talk] Licence of Facebook's derived road datasets? ODbL?

Rory McCann rory at technomancy.org
Thu Nov 14 20:38:49 UTC 2019

Hello all,

Facebook provide download dumps of their machine detected roads on a
country by country basis¹. It's great to see direct access to this data,
allowing us to look at that data without having to use a raw API. Well
done Facebook.

That webpage says the data is MIT licenced (_data_ under MIT is odd, but
whatever). The files are zipfiles with a licence file also saying MIT.
The description is “Country exports contain only the AI predicted roads
that are missing from OpenStreetMap”. That makes me think this data is a
dervived database of OSM, and hence should be ODbL.

If Facebook (or anyone) generate a road dataset, which we'll call D1,
from running their machine learning/neural network programme on aerial
imagery, and then removes roads from D1 which are in OSM, creating
dataset D2, then surely D2 is a “derived database” of OSM, and hence
ODbL requires D2 to also be ODbL, right? OSM data was used in the
creation of D2. To me D1 is “raw data derived from aerial imagery”, but
D2 is “raw data dervived from aerial imagery, plus OSM data”?

I asked if it should be ODbL, and Facebook reported that their legal
team believe MIT is correct².

> We are extracting the data from Maxar satellite images (you can
> learn about all the details from our publications) and our legal team
>  believes this is the correct license. I am not planning to comment 
> on the legal issues further; thank you for your curiosity.

A Facebook employee, long time OSMer, and fellow candidate for the OSMF
board, answered the same way³.

> Good question Rory. That data is not derived from OSM. It’s just the 
> raw road geometry inferences from aerial imagery.

The history of Facebook & OSM hasn't been 100% smooth sailing, and it
would be unfortunate if Facebook were to not obey the share-alike aspect
of our licence. I think we all agree that if FB released it under ODbL,
then everyone would be happy, and I urge them to do that.

Or am I missing something? Someone with more legal or licence knowledge
please correct me (or confirm I'm right)!


² https://github.com/facebookmicrosites/Open-Mapping-At-Facebook/issues/7
³ https://osmus.slack.com/archives/CK3BZ8FC0/p1573224740019300

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