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I am mapping a small portion of the east coast of the west side of Malaysia, and there only seems to be one map source which is up to date (the rest seem to be older than 5 years old, the airport wasn't even built yet). I have read up on some previous posts and this is what I understand: It is ok to use the "photos" from Google Street View to determine street names, but we can't take street names from the overlays. Tracing aerial photos is also not legal. Please correct me if that is incorrect.

The map source that works is quite grainy/hazy around the portion I'm trying to map. As a result, I'm having some trouble finding streets quickly. I have lived there myself, however I'm currently in another country. Here are my 3 main questions:

  1. Are we allowed to use Google Street View in order to determine whether a street exists? (Overlays not allowed to be used)
  2. Are we allowed to use Google Satellite View without overlays in order to see a location in a higher resolution? (Eg: Determine fencing/separation of houses, determining where road ends)
  3. Are we allowed to use Google Street View in order to check house numbers? (Overlays not allowed to be used)


asked 30 Apr '18, 02:23

aaronshenhao's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Short answer is unfortunately, no (please avoid).

Their terms of use explicitly forbid deriving maps from the data.

Taken from this.

One of the third-party apps, to sketch 3D building - to be uploaded to OpenStreetMap - got so many flak for deriving things with Google Street View on their demo video.

Also, could refer to a lengthy discussion over here.

From the first link, you can follow Google Maps/Google Earth Additional Terms of Service (last modified: January 31, 2018) which mentions

Prohibited Conduct. When using Google Maps/Google Earth, you may not (or allow those acting on your behalf to): use Google Maps/Google Earth to create or augment any other mapping-related dataset (including a mapping or navigation dataset, business listings database, mailing list, or telemarketing list) for use in a service that is a substitute for, or a substantially similar service to, Google Maps/Google Earth

(Some emphasis, mine)

Consider that their Street View is a part of their Google Maps and Earth products.

permanent link

answered 30 Apr '18, 08:04

AkuAnakTimur's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%

edited 30 Apr '18, 08:31

Thanks for answering, just to clarify is taking street names or unit numbers from Google Street View not allowed? I remember some people saying it was ok just taking street names here:, but it was from 2011 and might be outdated.

(30 Apr '18, 10:39) aaronshenhao

No, you really can't use Google Street View. I also don't see that suggests that "some people saying it was ok just taking street names".

(30 Apr '18, 10:49) SomeoneElse ♦

@SomeoneElse: Pieren's answer seems to suggest that. Not that I agree with it.

(30 Apr '18, 12:58) escada

There are two main issues with that - it ignores "sweat of the brow" (wikipedia has a summary of UK vs US there; many people who say "facts cannot be copyrighted" seem not to understand that US law does not apply in the UK) and ignores the Database Directive. OSMF is based in England and the laws of England and Wales apply to it.

Obviously, I'm not a lawyer; I've also not been part of the decision-making on OSM licences (beyond agreeing at sign-up and licence change). It appears to me that OSM's stragegy on this could perhaps be summarised as "let's avoid needing to use lawyers"; which sounds eminently sensible :)

(30 Apr '18, 13:13) SomeoneElse ♦


Fair enough, that was from 2011. However, OpenStreetMap now can rely on two independent platforms for sharing street level photos -- and with explicit permission to use their photos for the OpenStreetMap project i.e. OpenStreetCamand Mapillary.

Google however, didn't say anything: but then, quoting @SomeoneElse again, "let's avoid needing to use lawyers".

I happen to align with this view too, that

OpenStreetMap is trying to have a "whiter than white" attitude towards copyright. We don't want grey areas. We want to know that our database is legit, and that people who use it can feel as safe as possible.

(30 Apr '18, 13:23) AkuAnakTimur

@AkuAnakTimur @SomeoneElse Thanks for the help in clarifying the legal stuff, better to be on the safe side then. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any photos on OpenStreetCam and Mapillary for the area I'm mapping, so I'll probably have to do it the next time I visit.

(30 Apr '18, 16:11) aaronshenhao
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question asked: 30 Apr '18, 02:23

question was seen: 9,366 times

last updated: 30 Apr '18, 16:11

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