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Lately, I've come upon many instances of data (mostly street names) on the OSM database that were copied verbatim from unauthorized sources (mostly Google and Bing). Some of them are very old, but many are very recent, and some were inserted by very active users.

I've checked, for a few cases, the official, public, authorized, sources for the same data, and it is different from the information in Google Maps. Therefore, I can conclude that the data in the OSM database was almost surely copied from Google.

It seems that, no matter how many times it is said, there are always some users simply ignoring the "do not copy from other [unauthorized] sources" rule...

Not willing to take the matter to the DWG for now, I want to at least, somehow, notify the offending user(s), maybe asking politely not to make the same mistake, or maybe to remove the offending data, or send some other message with the same content and/or effect. At least before something like this happens (total disaster).

Any tips on how to do it? How do one approach another user regarding those issues?

asked 23 Oct '13, 18:50

MCPicoli's gravatar image

accept rate: 24%

In the content of the message, do make the user aware that if they don't remove the infringing content, it'll be removed by DWG. It's always better if these situations can be resolved by the community, but DWG is there because if that fails, we can't permit such data to remain.

I'd make one observation, though:

I've checked, for a few cases, the official, public, authorized, sources for the same data, and it is different from the information in Google Maps. Therefore, I can conclude that the data in the OSM database was almost surely copied from Google.

That doesn't hold. You are assuming "official, public, authorized, sources" are always right. They're not.

In our town, for example, we have a road called "Crawborough" and a road called "Grammar School Hill". The official, public, authorized source - Ordnance Survey, the UK's national mapping agency - has them as "Crawborough Road" and "Grammer School Hill". Bing, however, has the correct name for the former (just "Crawborough").

Does that mean OSM has copied off Bing? No, definitely not: it's named Crawborough in OSM because I know the road (it's half a mile from my house), I know people who live on it, and I have seen the street signs. Saying "almost surely" is greatly overstating the likelihood.

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answered 24 Oct '13, 08:33

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
accept rate: 18%

edited 24 Oct '13, 08:33

Not saying the "official, public..." sources are always correct. Maybe should have said that the same data is present both in Google Maps and the "official" source, but Google's data has a pattern of abbreviations of the middle names and street type identifiers (like "Rua"/"R."/"R", "Avenida"/"Av."/"Av") that was reproduced very faithfully by the user in the OSM data.

(24 Oct '13, 19:23) MCPicoli

Also, the question is more about the approach to be used, not about the possible copyright violation. How to notify the user without sounding like some kind of "OSM police", or without sounding like I was threatening to notify the DWG (I am not!) if something wasn't done.

(24 Oct '13, 19:29) MCPicoli

How do you know the street signs are correct? I have seen many misspelled street signs, and locals don't always seem to know where they live.

The best possible source is probably the governing body of the region, but that info is of course often also copyrighted.

(26 Oct '13, 00:30) Grillo

We map what's on the ground, not what is in a government database.

(26 Oct '13, 04:32) pnorman

You can use the internal messaging system via the website:

  • Log in on the website
  • Click on any link to the user page or type an URL like http://osm.org/user/drolbr where "drolbr" is the username.
  • Click on "Send message" and write the message
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answered 24 Oct '13, 07:22

Roland%20Olbricht's gravatar image

Roland Olbricht
accept rate: 35%


The question was "what should the message be", maybe should have made it clearer in the original text.

(24 Oct '13, 19:25) MCPicoli

I have had a few messages pointing out my mistakes all polite and helpful. The one you send could be something like this. Hello "their name" I have noticed that you have been mapping in "this" area and I like "this" about it. Sorry but I am a little concerned where you collected the street names from, ideally you got them from the street signs or local knowledge, but if the source is another copyrighted map or web site you should not use it. There is a section in OSM called the Data Working Group DWG that watch out for copyright infringements. for more info see wiki DWG and Copyright. Sorry to be a pain just ignore this message if I am mistaken. Happy mapping "your name"

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answered 26 Oct '13, 08:12

andy%20mackey's gravatar image

andy mackey
accept rate: 4%

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question asked: 23 Oct '13, 18:50

question was seen: 10,920 times

last updated: 26 Oct '13, 08:12

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