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A new OSM mapper have asked me:

"Can I offer a service to local business and shops to survey their locations and upload to OSM and charging a small amount of money for that?"

My first reaction was "No, you can't". But after reading the license and terms, I think it is actually possible. I just think that this could mess up the idea of "voluntary" geo-information. At the same time, this kind of activities can boost the updating process in places with few mappers.

Update 18/10/2010: Please read the answers below and feel free to list here the advantages and disadvantages of paid POIs in OSM.


  • Local OSM mappers may have an additional incentive to update the map.
  • Local business in unmapped areas can get more visibility.
  • Information of paid POIs should be more complete and updated.
  • ...


  • The implications of paid POIs should be discussed in the context of OSM and volunteer geo-information.
  • ...
This question is marked "community wiki".

asked 13 Oct '10, 16:19

temporalista's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 18 Oct '10, 09:48

You are absolutely entitled to go around helping people get their data into OpenStreetMap. If they are happy to pay for your help, then that's great too.

If you were to approach businesses about adding their locations to OSM, you would need to be careful that you are being fully honest about it and not mis-selling yourself. You should explain they can add it themselves, or that other volunteers will get round to it eventually. You also aren't able to guarantee placement in search results, or similar things. You could, however, sell a service where you put it in, and check every month that it's still up to date, and maybe offer to maintain the extra information such as phone number, website, opening hours etc that the volunteers don't always manage. But it's important not to mislead your customers about your role within OSM or what you can offer them.

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answered 13 Oct '10, 17:35

Andy%20Allan's gravatar image

Andy Allan
accept rate: 28%

There is nothing in the license or other places that prohibits you from getting paid to work with OSM. In fact there are several companies offering geo services based on OSM. If you look at this from the businesses point of view if they do not hire you they have to give a paid employe the time to learn and import to OSM witch could cost them more and is no more free.

If something is free does not mean that none have made money making it. It just means that you are not charged and you can do what you want with it.

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answered 13 Oct '10, 16:33

Gnonthgol's gravatar image

Gnonthgol ♦
accept rate: 16%

This question is not a simple "ah that's easy the tutorial you need is over there" question. Rather the community has to discuss this idea. In fact the question should be "are paid for POIs welcome in the OSM database" instead of "is that legally possible under the current license".

The talk@ mailing list and the forum are both much better suited for such a discussion then this help site. Preferably both pros and cons should be listed in the wiki as they arise in the discussion.

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answered 13 Oct '10, 16:38

petschge's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%


It's very interesting that people see the real value of open software.

OK so it costs nothing. Does that mean it's worth nothing? Interestingly, I've had clients that want to stick to systems they've bought just because "well we paid for it and now we don't want to throw it out [read: throw money out] the window." The tendency with free software is to think, "ok this was for free, so if it doesn't work, I'll just throw it out."

Having spent money the loyalty increases. Not wanting to say you have to spend money, though, this is just an observation from my work practice.

Now, I'm glad to see that people discover that you can make a living with open source products, too. The main difference between open source and closed source business is that with open source we sell SERVICES, CRAFTMANSHIP, SKILL and so on. While closed source people just sell copies. You can go to whatever computer store and start asking the people about the products they sell. Mostly they will know zip. Except the price of course...

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answered 27 Oct '10, 17:42

arnotixe's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Hi arnotixe - the "answer" you've just posted doesn't really answer the original question - best that you take things like this to the mailing lists, blogs or the forums.

(28 Oct '10, 00:03) Andy Allan

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question asked: 13 Oct '10, 16:19

question was seen: 8,975 times

last updated: 29 Oct '10, 13:04

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum