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Hello, I've read through the ODbL and the Community Guidelines a few times and I think I understand the ODbL well enough. I have a couple of specific questions that I'm unsure of though.

I'm developing a web application where users can see locations on a Leaflet map using OpenStreetMap tiles and create routes based on those locations. Those locations come from my private DB and OSM DB. When fetching the data from both DB's they are never compared with one another and the private DB doesn't reference any OSM data, so at this point this is a Collective DB. What happens next is what I'm unclear of:

  1. I'm using the Leaflet Marker cluster plugin which groups markers. When a user fetches locations they are fetching specific locations, like Restaurants, and both the private data and the OSM data go into this Marker Cluster Group. The locations don't know anything about one another except that they are grouped by type. Is this now a derivative work? Or is it a derivative work simply because I'm showing the Private with the OSM data at the same time?
  2. Each location that is presented on the map, OSM and Private, have a balloon when clicked. This balloon has a button that allows the user to add this location to a route. After the user has clicked at least two locations a route is created using MapQuest's Open Routing service. This route is made from the lat/lon's of any location on the map. The user could choose to only create routes based on OSM data or vise versa or use both. Is this a derivative work when the user chooses to make a route based on OSM and Private data? Is this a derivative work because I'm allowing users to create routes based on OSM and Private data? Or is this still a collective DB because these operations are done on the fly?


asked 23 Jan '15, 15:42

cleversprocket's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 07 Mar '15, 13:11

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦

I'm not a lawyer: this is just a personal opinion from someone who's spent a lot of time (too long!) looking at the OSM licence.

  1. No, this is not a derivative work. The clustering is a trivial mechanical transformation and is not qualitatively "substantial" enough to create a derivative.
  2. In aggregate, a set of these routes would be a derivative database. In isolation, a single route is unlikely to be quantitatively substantial, and so doesn't qualify as a derivative.
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answered 25 Jan '15, 16:18

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
accept rate: 18%


Thank you for your input. I hadn't thought of it as an issue of substantial/insubstantial. I would think that this would be considered substantial since anybody can use the application and the substantial determination is project based and not user based. I think part of the confusion with the wording of the odbl is that what is now derivative? À) The whole physical database. B) Not the whole DB but all of the data linked to the lat/longs (all of the restaurant data). C) Only the lat/longs.

(26 Jan '15, 00:37) cleversprocket

First and foremost, the only way you will get a proper legal opinion on this is to pay a lawyer. No-one in the OpenStreetMap community can give you an answer you can rely on, simply because of the way the law works. So if you're looking for a level of advice you can base a business model on, you need to talk to a lawyer, ideally with experience of copyright and licensing law. All OSM can do is point to the text of the licence.

That said, you should also consider what it is about your "private" data that needs to be kept private:

  • Are the locations you have of features that might already be in OSM?
  • If not, given that eventually, any features that exist on the planet will be mapped in OSM anyway, what are you gaining by keeping the locations of features private?

One of the advantages of using OSM data is that the community will continually add new features and update existing ones, so for example if you were making a restaurant reviews app, by adding the "private" restaurant locations into OSM, that data would be kept up-to-date by the OSM community without any effort on your part. So please consider what portion of your data really needs to be private, given that you could use the power of the OSM community to help your business, and resolve any licensing issues over mixing two geodatabases.

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answered 23 Jan '15, 18:49

Jonathan%20Bennett's gravatar image

Jonathan Ben...
accept rate: 18%


Hi Jonathan, I plan on adding everything that is OSM related back to OSM. So if my restaurants have any additional data that OSM would like I will add it in. But my restaurants have reviews and other such stuff that OSM isn't interested in. The reason I'm not referencing restaurants from OSM in my DB is because I don't want to open my DB to ODbL. I'm under the assumption that once I reference private data against OSM data then it is a derivative work. If I'm wrong then that would be great and I wouldn't need Lat/Lon's for restaurants in my DB, just pointers to OSM data.

(23 Jan '15, 19:21) cleversprocket

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question asked: 23 Jan '15, 15:42

question was seen: 5,808 times

last updated: 07 Mar '15, 13:11

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