Licence/About The Licence Change

From OpenStreetMap Foundation

About The OpenStreetMap Licence Change

In 2012 the OpenStreetMap project moved to a new licence, known as the Open Database License (ODbL) replacing the former Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 2.0 licence due to problems with the CC-BY-SA licence when applied to data. The licence clarified the terms under which people make contributions to the project and the terms under which people can use the data. It is a basically a share alike licence for data.

The licence was developed by OpenDataCommons a project of the Open Knowledge Foundation.

The new licence comes in two parts. One, the Open Database License (ODbL) covers the database itself and, and a set of upgraded Contributor Terms covers the content of the database.

The licence remains firmly rooted in the attribution, share-alike provisions of the existing Creative Commons License but the ODbL is far more suitable for open factual databases rather than the creative works of art. It extends far greater potential protection and is far clearer when, why and where the share-alike provisions are triggered. There are further reasons for moving away from CC BY-SA here.

Where we are now

On Wednesday September the 12th 2012, we announced the switch to the ODbL licence. The first ODbL licensed planet file was available on the 14th.

Prior copies of the database will continue to be available under CC BY SA as long as there is demand.

Our implementation plan provides more information about the history of the change-over process.

The documents

If you are looking for a final set of all the documents, here they are:

  • Contributor Terms - Individual contributors need to agree to these terms before contributing.
  • Human readable summary of the Contributor Terms
  • Database Contents License (DbCL) - Contributors waive all rights in the individual Contents of a Database licensed under the ODbL. In the text, 'Licensor' means the contributor and 'You' means the Foundation. This effectively means that end users of data published by the Foundation need to study only the ODbL rather than worrying about any special copyrights on individual elements of the database.

History of Acceptance and Implementation Process

Over a two year period, the OpenStreetMap worked with Open Data Commons to create the ODbL license itself and then to create internal Contributor Terms and other subsidiary documents.

The Foundation's Licence Working Group presented a proposal document to the members, who accepted it by vote in December 2009. A summary was also presented at the State Of The Map 2009 conference. This process is documented here. We also welcome any review and comment by other bodies working in the open intellectual properties rights arena, and have published an open letter asking for their views.

OSMF members voted on whether they wish to put the new license to the community for adoption and then begin the adoption process itself. The results from 270 members polled are:

Approved the process: 132
Did not approve the process: 16
Didn't vote: 122


Approval rate: 89%
Turnout rate: 55%

Personal statements from community members making the case for and against the change are available on the OSM wiki. For the full details of the voting results, see member vote results.

More information

More information including use cases and open issues is available on the OSM wiki.