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Is there an OSM etiquette about asking permission to survey areas such as National Trust properties (UK), Community College grounds, landscaped open to the public reservoirs, that sort of thing?

Out of courtesy, I have asked at some sites and have been met with a blank stare when I explain about the OSM project and have then been given a number to ring at head office.

I wonder if I should just get on with it and explain if challenged?

asked 30 Jul '10, 09:09

Molescott's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

There is no established OSM etiquette on this.

Some mappers take a somewhat belligerent stance, proclaiming that where they may walk they may also survey and nobody can tell them otherwise. Others use the, perhaps overly, cautious approach that you describe. Being referred to the head office should come as no surprise; after all, the clerk will think, if what you wanted to do would cause no harm, then why would you ask?

I think that it is generally ok to just get on with it and be ready to explain OSM to anyone who asks. Having some flyer or leaflet ready certainly helps - or a printed map excerpt of the area, showing that what you are currently mapping is still a blank spot! (Or maybe a printed map of another, comparable but well mapped area to explain what you're aiming at.) Maybe even offer them to send them a printout of the area once you are finished!

It is also a good idea to know the legal situation in your country. As a rule of thumb, anywhere where it is legal for you to take photos (and not just "allowed because the proprietor allows it"), it should be automatically legal to survey. Even so, if asked by staff to stop surveying I would comply - in the full knowledge that it won't be long until someone else comes along and maps the place. They cannot stop OSM, they can merely delay it.

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answered 30 Jul '10, 16:09

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

It's easier to ask forgiveness than to ask for permission.

As long as it is public or semi-public, just do it. OpenStreetMap is about doing. If somebody doesn't like it, tell them you are sorry and go away. Somebody else will probably try again next week.

Of course this applies only to civilized countries. I wouldn't recommend this approach in countries like the US if you ever want to fly on an airplane again.

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answered 30 Jul '10, 16:12

Jochen%20Topf's gravatar image

Jochen Topf
accept rate: 31%


There is no law against mapping an public area. You do not normally need to ask for permission to share your observations on OSM.

There might be some problems with police or guards as they might mistake you for a criminal who might map an area. Be prepared to explain to anybody what OSM are.

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answered 30 Jul '10, 16:04

Gnonthgol's gravatar image

Gnonthgol ♦
accept rate: 16%

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question asked: 30 Jul '10, 09:09

question was seen: 8,462 times

last updated: 30 Jul '10, 16:12

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