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Hi, I have read the definitions and the obligations for the collective, derivative databases and produced work but still would like to confirm obligations under the following circumstances wherein we would be using OSM data:

  1. We would have a private tile server.
  2. OSM data would be used for rendering maps on mobile app and on web app too and these maps would be accesible to a closed set of registered users. This set of registered users would be an expanding set as new mobile app users would get registered with time.
  3. The OSM data would be enhanced either by correction of existing data or by addition of new data ( or data attributes of the existing data )
  4. The OSM data would be used for routing, searching places, calculation of travel time etc.
  5. According to our client's requirement, any addition or enhancements to the data have to be strictly private. As per the details mentioned above and as per the license obligations is the data being kept confidential possible ??

I would be very grateful if my doubts will be clarified as this would help in taking further steps.

Thanking you in advance.

asked 07 Jan '14, 07:18

ispl's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 07 Jan '14, 07:22

The ODbL license stipulates that if you publicly use (and even if only for registered users, your app is "public" - unless we're talking internal use within one organisation) a produced work (your tiles) made from a derivative database (your enhanced OSM data), then:

You must also offer to recipients of the Derivative Database or Produced Work a copy in a machine readable form of: a. The entire Derivative Database; or b. A file containing all of the alterations made to the Database or the method of making the alterations to the Database (such as an algorithm), including any additional Contents, that make up all the differences between the Database and the Derivative Database.

(Source: section 4.6)

This means that, unless your client is only using the application inside his organisation, your improvements to OSM cannot be kept proprietary - although you do not need to make them available to the world, you just have to offer them to those who receive your tiles.

What you can do is display OSM data as-is, and mix in different data from a different source, that must not in any way be derived from OSM. In that case, your other data does not have to be released. But if that other data is somehow derived from OSM or created with the help of OSM, then it is not yours to keep.

(Edit: added some of Simon Poole's statements from the comment)

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answered 07 Jan '14, 09:16

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

edited 07 Jan '14, 10:12


Just to make this clear: the key issue is if the database or produced work is being publically used.

If the users are employees of your client then it is likely not to be the case, on the other hand if the service is in any way open to people that are not employed or controlled by your client then your client will be using the database publically.

In general it is not a good idea to ask legal questions on this site for numerous reaons (liability, regulation of legal professions etc). You should ask a suitable professional or at least direct your question to the LWG

(07 Jan '14, 10:03) SimonPoole ♦

As an addendum to these answers, I would suggest that trying to keep your osm database improvements private is not as good a business idea as it sounds. Remember that the community will always improve the global map faster than you. As your improvements become more substantial, they will become harder to merge with the upstream database. What you gain with an exclusive db is unlikely to offset the upkeep costs. There are better ways to monetize your use of osm. The same dynamic can be seen in other open projects, for example the Linux kernel.

(07 Jan '14, 10:48) Vincent de P... ♦

Thanks Frederik Ramm for the explanation. But can you please explain the term 'public' with reference to OSM license. The reason why the app is 'public' inspite of being used by a closed set of people is not very clear. Can you please explain it in context of the license ?

(07 Jan '14, 10:58) ispl

The exact wording from the licence is:

“Publicly” – means to Persons other than You or under Your control by either more than 50% ownership or by the power to direct their activities (such as contracting with an independent consultant).

In other words: a closed group of people is not sufficient to that group not being public.

(07 Jan '14, 11:28) SimonPoole ♦
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question asked: 07 Jan '14, 07:18

question was seen: 7,363 times

last updated: 07 Jan '14, 11:28

NOTICE: is being shutdown on 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum