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I am working in a voluntary group that is creating navigation charts of the waterways in Ireland - We are tracing the shorelines and significant structures from aerial footage and adding our own depth datum collected by our members.

Theses charts would be made available, free, to the members of the organisation we belong to, but the data raw would not be made available to anyone.

It would be nice to put in some road networks and a few points of interest around the harbour areas for people visiting those harbours (shops, pubs, ATM etc)

How do we stand if we wanted to use the data from this site to add to our charts? Would it be legal for us to use the data, and would we be obligated to provide our depth data in return?

Our groups charter forbids us from making the depth data publicly available, so if that is a stumbling block then we will have to trace the roads in ourselves from the aerial images as well.


asked 14 Nov '14, 16:48

awake's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 14 Nov '14, 17:30

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦

Hi Guys,

Many thanks for your answers. You have been very helpful. It was always the intention to mention the OSM contribution and not claim it for our own so we should be OK from that point of view.

Regarding your point Andy, we are using Global Mapper to create the charts using the freely available aerial world imagery contained within the internal application links. - Is this OK if we are able to contribute updated shoreline and other items?

To take up your point Richard, the stumbling block is funding. We are not funded by anyone. The members of the group have made donations through the various branches but this only covers some equipment and software costs - the biggest cost by far is the fuel for the boats and time. Both of these resources are provided by individuals of the group and not subsidised by anyone, hence the reticence to release the data publicly where some un-scrupulous person could start to use it for themselves in a profit related manner. As I mentioned the charts will be made available freely to members of the IWAI who are at least part funding the project but we do want to protect the raw survey data.

I will put all of these comments to our group at our next meeting before a decision is made. I would hope to be able to share our more accurate shorelines and islands at the very least but it will be for the group members to make the decision. Personally I would see this as a fair exchange. We have released some beta charts for limited testing so we should have a fully released product for four areas of the system at the start of the new boating season next spring. Hopefully it will bring new members in who are willing to spend time and effort into producing data for other areas of the system. It would be good to add a little extra to it with some OSM roads around the harbours.

It is exciting times...


(17 Nov '14, 09:10) awake

You could always charge for access to high-quality prints or other member-only services. Chances are, people who volunteer their boat, fuel and time to survey will still do so wether the data is free or not, as they are primarily helping themselves. That's mostly how it works in OSM.

Do you know about ? They seem to have a fairly advanced depth-gathering project.

(18 Nov '14, 19:16) Vincent de P... ♦

I am not a lawyer, so take this with a big grain of salt: I believe the issue on using OSM data is making private changes or in radically transforming it to combine it with other data. And I think the way around this is:

  1. Have a separate private database with your proprietary data. From your question it seems that the depth data is the only thing you need to keep private.
  2. Submit all your road, buildings, shops, pubs, ATM and shoreline data updates to OSM.

When you make your actual map(s), pull data from both OSM and your private data. In this case your map is being created with "collective data" per as you really don't need to transform the OSM data to merge it with your proprietary data. You are likely to simply use the OSM data as a base layer and then add a layer on top of that with your depth information.

You will, of course, need to acknowledge the source of the OSM data to use it.

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answered 14 Nov '14, 21:17

n76's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

edited 14 Nov '14, 21:18

I'm guessing you're part of IWAI (presumably CSIG?).

Your group's charter is of course your own business, but I would encourage you to consider publishing the depth data openly - even if not necessarily as part of OpenStreetMap. By publishing open data, you are enabling more and more people to build tools, apps and websites to help people enjoy the inland waterways, many more than if you keep the data to yourselves.

That, in turn, makes the case for continued public funding for the waterways. Certainly here in the UK, the waterways continue to be under funding pressure, and the Government (which remains the single largest funder of the Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency) requires evidence that its investment is benefiting a wide number of people.

Open data works. IWAI's aims, just like IWA's in Britain, are the "use, maintenance, protection, restoration and improvement of the inland waterways". That's best served by publishing data openly so that (to quote OSM's mission) people can use the data in "creative, productive, or unexpected ways". Please consider it.

(Background: I've been involved in the waterways in the UK for ~20 years, most recently as editor of Waterways World, as well as being a long-time OSMer.)

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answered 15 Nov '14, 17:55

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
accept rate: 18%


Also, the Irish OSM community might be interested in your project. Whether freeing your data is on the cards or not, please send a message to so that we may help each other.

(15 Nov '14, 22:33) Vincent de P... ♦

Openstreetmap data is free for to you to use, but we would like you to mention that you have part used osm data for the charts. We would appreciate useful additions to osm but it you don't have to, If you do add to OSM please do not copy stuff from copyrighted sources, such as aerial imagery (other then the Bing we can use in our editors), as it must not be used to add to OSM. Good Luck with your interesting project. EDIT Re Awakes comment here's a link to Bing terms if you add to OSM from other sources please read our wiki about copyright issues first.

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answered 14 Nov '14, 21:22

andy%20mackey's gravatar image

andy mackey
accept rate: 4%

edited 17 Nov '14, 16:08

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question asked: 14 Nov '14, 16:48

question was seen: 6,714 times

last updated: 18 Nov '14, 19:16

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