Licence/Licence and Legal FAQ
ABOUT THESE FAQS
This FAQ page is to help answer questions for anyone who wants to use OpenStreetMap geodata. HOWEVER, please note that none of this is legal advice. We are a small not-for-profit organisation with the goal of publishing big, useful data. If you need legal advice you need to hire your own lawyer and rely on their advice. The same applies for the specific Guidelines that we have prepared and which are referred to in these FAQs.
1. USING OSM DATA
1.1. What license applies to the use of the OSM Data?
OSM data is made available under the Open Database Licence version 1.0 (the ODbL).
1.2. Who can use OSM Data?
Anyone can use OSM data. You do not need to register with the OpenStreetMap Project.
1.3. What can I do with the OSM Data?
The ODbL allows you to use the OSM data for any purpose you like. This includes personal, community, educational, commercial or governmental.
1.4. Is attribution required?
Yes! Please see our Attribution Guideline. Within the guideline, guidance is provided on the following common use cases:
- Interactive maps
- Static images
- Geocoding (search)
- Routing engines
- Machine learning models
- Books, magazines, and printed maps
- Artwork, household goods, and clothing
- TV, film, or video productions
- Computer games and simulations
1.5. Is OSM Data Free to Use?
YES! There are NO copyright, licence, usage or other fees and you do not have to pay anybody anything to use the map data that is made available by OSM. However, OSM’s map tiles are not free and not intended for commercial use (see below). Furthermore, others may charge you for their versions of the OSM data or any derived data).
If you would like to support the project, however, please donate.
1.6. What About Map Tiles?
OpenStreetMap is not a commercial entity and does not offer commercial map tile services. OSM map tiles are made available to support the project and community, and are funded by donation. Any use of map tiles served by the OpenStreetMap project (tile.openstreetmap.org) must observe our tile usage policy. In particular, proper attribution, as described by the Attribution Guidelines is required.
Of course, you can always take OSM data and deploy your own tile service. It is then likely that your tile service would be deemed a Produced Work for the purposes of the ODbL. The implications of this are set out below. Several commercial providers also offer a tile service based on OSM data.
1.7. Are there any special conditions to be aware of?
There are a number of key conditions that you need to be aware of if you want to use our data. These conditions are imposed by the ODbL license under which the OSM data is made available. To make life easy, we have explained what you need to do with some common use cases under paragraph 1.8 below. If you are doing something else, please keep reading.
There are some key concepts to understand. These are the concepts of "Public Use", "Produced Work", "Derivative Database" and "Collective Database". Let’s deal with them one by one:
- "Public Use"
- This is where you distribute the OSM data or any Derivative Database (see below), or a Produced Work built from either of these, outside of your organisation or, if you are not an organisation, you make it available to third parties. If you only use OSM data and any Derivative Databases privately for yourself or within your school, organisation or company then it is not public use.
- "Produced Work"
- Most uses of OSM are as Produced Works. A produced work is where you take the OSM data and turn it into a finished work (as opposed to it being made available as a database). Examples of this would be where you use a screenshot of OSM, print OSM data onto paper maps, have a website or API service that delivers map tiles or where you are displaying a map as part of a larger work such as a television show, film, advertisement or book. To help understand this, we have created a specific Produced Work Guideline.
- "Derivative Database"
- This is one of the most complex parts of the ODbL. You should read the exact wording in the licence along with the meaning of a Collective Database below. However, at a high level, a Derivative Database is created where you adapt, modify, enhance, correct or extend our data.
- "Collective Database"
- A Collective Database is where the OSM Data is used as part of a collection of otherwise independent databases which are assembled into a collective whole. A Collective Database is not therefore considered a Derivative Database.
The concepts of Collective Databases and Derivative Databases are particularly relevant where you want to use your data or third party data in conjunction with our data and is a critical point to get right due to the Share- Alike condition we explain below. To help you understand the difference between a Collective Database vs a Derivative Database for OSM data, we have published a number of guidelines to help you. We recommend you read through these Guidelines and the examples contained in them.
With the above core concepts explained, what are the key conditions you need to be aware of? Well, they are:
- Where you make our data or any Derivative Database available to others, it must continue to be licensed under the ODbL. This is often referred to as Share-Alike.
- If you create a Produced Work, you can apply whatever terms you like to the Produced Work, but you must upon request offer recipients either a copy of your data and any Derivative Databases under the terms of the ODbL or the means of creating the Derivative Databases upon request.
- You must attribute the use of our data in both of the above cases.
More detail on these conditions is provided below.
If you distribute our data onwards to third parties, you must do so under the ODbL license. This means they can then in turn use that data for any purpose, as well as themselves provide it onwards under the terms of the ODbL. The same applies for any Derivative Database you create.
However, it will not apply to any other data forming part of a Collective Database. This data you can license under any terms you like. To help you work out what is a Derivative Database and what is a Collective Database, we have provided detailed guidance under our Horizontal Layers Guideline, Regional Cuts Guideline, and our Collective Database Guideline. We would strongly encourage you to read all of these, as they provide relevant examples, you may find helpful.
For Produced Works, the situation is a little different. You can license a Produced Work under any terms you like. However, any recipient to which you make the Produced Work available can ask for a copy of both: our data and any Derivative Database you use in connection with that Produced Work. You are required to provide these, if requested. If you haven’t made changes to the OSM data, you can simply refer users back to openstreetmap.org as the data source.
Do you have to share your changes to OpenStreetMap data back to the community? Well, we obviously prefer it if you add the data straight back to our database, but you do not have to, as long as you comply with the above. If you do contribute back, please make sure you comply with our Contributor Terms. For help see section 2. below.
What if you are only using OpenStreetMap data and any Derivative Database internally? If you do not make Public Use of the data, then you do not have to share anything with anybody.
1.7.2. Attribution – What you need to do
A lot of contributors have spent (and continue to spend) a lot of time and effort adding data from virtually every country in the world. For this reason we want the effort recognized through attribution. Additionally, we want people to know about our project, so that they, perhaps, use or contribute data themselves.
Attribution is also a specific requirement of the ODbL. Details on how we would like you to provide attribution can be found under our specific Attribution Guideline.
1.8. Common use cases and what you need to do
For all of the below, it presumes no changes have been made to the OSM data. As a result, attribution is the only requirement. The below obligations can also be found in the Attribution Guidelines.
1.8.1. Taking and using a screenshot of OSM in a digital publication
Your only obligation here is attribution. You must attribute the image by placing “Map data from OpenStreetMap” or “©OpenStreetMap” on the image. Where possible, this should be hyperlinked to openstreetmap.org/copyright which provides information on OpenStreetMap’s data sources as well as the ODbL. Usually, this would be done in the bottom right corner but anywhere is deemed sufficient. If multiple static images appear on the same document, one instance of attribution is sufficient.
The above is not required if your image includes fewer than 100 features or is of an area less than 10,000 m2. In addition, small thumbnails/icons do not require attribution.
1.8.2. Books, magazines and printed maps
For books, magazines and printed maps
- “Map data from OpenStreetMap” or “©OpenStreetMap”
with the following URL
must appear where other such credits appear, being either beside the map, the footnote/endnote or in the acknowledgements-section of the publication (often at the start of a book or magazine). The URL to “openstreetmap.org/copyright” must be printed out. If no such other credits exist then you must place the above in one of those locations.
1.8.3. Displaying the OSM in a television show, film or advertisement
For fictional productions or where the map is not the focus of the production, attribution may be given on the map, in end credits, or, if the video is distributed via a digital format that includes a description, within the description. Attribution should be either “Map data from OpenStreetMap” or “©OpenStreetMap”. In addition, when attributing via the end credits or the description, the URL to openstreetmap.org/copyright must be included.
For incidental footage of a third party map that uses OSM as a source, you must not digitally alter or erase the existing attribution on that map, but you do not need to do anything further (for example, if you film a person typing on their laptop and a map is visible on their laptop screen).
For productions where an OpenStreetMap map is a major component of what is shown to users, the attribution should typically appear in a corner of the map (being “Map data from OpenStreetMap” or “©OpenStreetMap”), in addition to attribution in the end credits or description. For the end credits, the URL to openstreetmap.org/copyright must also be included. As long as the credit is on screen long enough to be read, it does not have to remain in view during panning or zooming.
1.9. Can I charge for distributing OSM data or data derived from OSM data?
Yes. You can charge any amount of money you want for any service or data you provide. However, since the data (or service) that is derived from OSM data must be licensed as above, other people may then redistribute this without payment.
1.10. Using older OpenStreetMap data
Data contributed prior to September 2012 continues to be available from our archives under "CC-BY-SA", the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike version 2.0.
This licence is broadly the same as the ODbL. You can use the data without payment, provided that you "Attribute" and "Share-Alike". However, the new ODbL is specifically written for databases. It offers our project more protection. Attribution is more practical. It is a lot clearer on when "Share-Alike" is triggered. It also allows you to make maps with layers from different data with incompatible licences. In short, we want even more people to use our data and the ODbL is better suited to this goal.
1.11. Can I get permission from OpenStreetMap Foundation to distribute OSM data under an alternative licence?
No. The Foundation is contractually bound to all OpenStreetMap individual contributors to license the data only under a specific licence. Currently, this is ODbL 1.0. While in the future the Foundation may request a vote of the entire active contributorship to change the licence of OSM to a different "free and open" licence, this would be a complete change to the licence of OSM. An individual waiver or alternative licence is not possible.
Copyright to individual contributions remains with the contributor and their consent can be asked directly. If you happen to use data provided solely by one or a few OSM contributors, you can ask them if they are willing to provide their data to you under a different licence.
1.12. I want to use an OSM map in my project. Can the OpenStreetMap Foundation sign my release form?
Probably not. Release forms typically include several clauses that OSMF cannot agree to:
- Ownership. OSMF is not the copyright owner (although OSMF will be the database rights holder). OSMF receives non-exclusive rights from its contributors.
- Complete waiver. OSMF cannot waive of rights of contributors other than what those contributors have granted under the Contributor Agreement and applicable open license (ODbL). If your use falls within what the ODbL (or law, such as fair use) permits, you do not need a further grant. If your use falls outside such permissions, you would need to seek permission from the contributors, not OSMF.
- Indemnity & warranty. As a small non-profit, OSMF does not provide any indemnification or warranty.
If you have a release form that does not contain any of these clauses, you may submit it for our review at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note our reviewers are volunteers and may not be able to respond immediately. Based on our past experience, in many instances where entities are seeking release forms, the entities intend to use an OSM map in a way that is already permitted under ODbL, provided that attribution is properly given. In such cases a release would not be necessary. Please review the Community Guidelines and specifically the Attribution Guidelines, to see if your use would qualify.
2. CONTRIBUTING DATA TO OpenStreetMap
The above rules deal with mainly the rules around using the OSM data. This next section provides guidance on how you can contribute to our project.
2.1. I would like to import data into the OSM map, can I just go ahead?
There are strict rules about what can and cannot be imported into the OSM map and these rules depend upon the source of ownership and license terms relating to such data. In all cases, any data you contribute should improve the OSM map and not degrade it (just because you can contribute it doesn’t necessarily mean you should!). You need to consult with the OpenStreetMap community on this, see the Import Wikipage.
The relevant sources are as follows:
- Data that you own the intellectual property in. This likely applies if you have collected the data yourself or if you have paid someone to collect it for you (but in this second case you will need to check the terms of your agreement with them).
- Data where the intellectual property rights are owned by someone else. In this case you have probably received the data under a license from that company or person.
- Open Data subject to licenses other than the ODbL. This is data that has been made available under open license terms other than the ODbL. These may range from "permissive" licenses which allow for completely unrestricted use of the data to Share-Alike licenses like the ODbL which have specific terms attached. For example, government bodies may make data available under various Creative Commons licenses.
- Other data which is subject to the ODbL.
2.1.1. Can I import data that I own the Intellectual Property in?
Yes. However, be aware that once you do so this data can then be made available freely under the ODbL terms and, where to the extent received by a user under ODbL terms, you will not be able to charge or place any other license controls over it.
2.1.2. Can I import data where the intellectual property rights are owned by someone else?
No, not unless you have a specific waiver and their agreement that it will be licensed under the ODbL.
2.1.3. Can I import open data that is subject to licenses other than the ODbL?
This is a complex question. The licence applied to the dataset needs to be compatible with the ODBL or otherwise you have informed the licence owner and obtained their consent. Guidance on what licenses are considered compatible can be found in our Licence Compatibility Guidelines. Please note that if you import incompatible data, the relevant data will be removed from our map.
2.1.4. Can I import other data which is also subject to the ODbL?
Yes, see the Import Guidelines for non-licence considerations.
2.1.5. Can I copy data from Google?
No! There are no services provided by Google that have terms of service or licenses that allow them to be used. Further Google services are not a reliable source of geographic data, they are vehicles for transporting advertising and gathering behavioural data and tend to be biased in many ways.
Do not forget that OpenStreetMap is not a project to explore legal grey areas of copyright and contract law, it is a global project to provide free to use, open and legally untainted geodata. Please do not endanger it by trying to take shortcuts.
2.1.6. Import Guidelines
Where it is allowed to contribute data, the OpenStreetMap Community provides further Import Guidelines on how to do the import.
3. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I BELIEVE OPENSTREETMAP IS INFRINGING MY COPYRIGHT?
OpenStreetMap contributors are asked never to add data from any copyrighted sources (e.g. Google Maps or printed maps) without explicit permission from the copyright holders.
If you believe that your copyrighted material has been inappropriately added to the OpenStreetMap database or this site, please refer to our Takedown Procedure or file a complaint directly at our Online Filing Page.
4. CAN I USE OSM DATA AND OPENSTREETMAP-DERIVED MAPS TO VERIFY MY OWN DATA WITHOUT TRIGGERING SHARE-ALIKE?
Yes, provided that you are only comparing and do not copy any OpenStreetMap data. If you make any changes to your data after making the comparison, you should be able to reasonably demonstrate that any such change was made either from your own physical observation or comes from a non-OpenStreetMap source accessed directly by you. I.e you can compare but not take!
- Example 1: You notice that a street is called one name on your map and another in OpenStreetMap. You should visit the street and check the name, then you are free to put that name in your data as it is your own observation.
- Example 2: You notice that a boundary is different in your data and OpenStreetMap. You should check back to original authoritative sources and make any correction required.
5. CAN I ASK THE OSMF QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LICENCE?
Yes. Within the limits of a purely volunteer run organisation we will try to provide you with an answer. Please however consider that:
- We cannot provide you with legal advice, you need to ask your counsel for that.
- We are contractually bound to distribute OSM data under a specific set of licences (currently the ODbL 1.0) and cannot make exceptions.
- As with most licences, the ODbL has certain grey areas, particularly when applied to OSM geo-data. We produced a set of Community Guidelines that try to clarify certain issues. However, these Guidelines do not cover all possible use cases.
- We are staffed entirely by volunteers and may not be able to respond to you quickly.
Please direct all such questions to email@example.com
6. WHAT SHOULD MY LAWYER LOOK AT?
If you are a potential end user and need to do a legal review before using OpenStreetMap data, here is what we suggest your lawyer or legal department look at:
- The Open Database License, "ODbL" 1.0.
- The OpenStreetMap Contributor Terms. This acts as the Contents license referred to by ODbL. Note that we have endeavoured to design our licensing system to use just the ODbL license as a "one stop shop" regarding the rights and obligations of end users. It is not our intent for any Contents license to restrict rights further nor to add extra obligations.
- Community Guidelines. These analyse specific legal terms and generic language in the ODbL specifically as it regards our geodata and how it used. For example, what does the EU Database Directive term "Substantial" extraction mean in practical terms. They carry no formal legal weight but do present what the OpenStreetMap community, and therefore the OSM Foundation as publisher, feels to be reasonable and acceptable.
7. OTHER IMPORTANT LEGAL INFORMATION
Our Trademark Policy governs use of our OpenStreetMap, State of the Map, and logo marks.
Since July 1, 2020, The OSM “standard style” map that you see at OpenStreetMap is a Produced Work, under ODbL. (Previously, the map tiles were licensed under CC-BY-SA) This means that if you are taking a screenshot from openstreetmap.org, you must attribute the image to OpenStreetMap, but you do not have Share-Alike obligations unless you try to extract the data. See the Attribution Guidelines.
The OpenStreetMap Foundation is a UK-registered entity. You can find more information at wiki.osmfoundation.org.
8. BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE ODBL AND THE PROCESS THAT LED TO ITS ADOPTION
It offers clearer protection for OpenStreetMap and better clarity to end users. OpenStreetMap data is offered freely for any use under Attribution and Share Alike terms.
Detailed information about why the licence was changed and the process that took place to implement the change:
- About The License Change
- We Are Changing The License: this page summarises the change for OpenStreetMap contributors.
- The OpenStreetMap community's general wiki pages
- see this blog post: new-licence-for-the-standard-style-tiles for details on the change