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I have collected evidences that every details that I have contributed to OSM are reproduced (after about 2 weeks) on Google Maps (including very thin details patiently added, or some very small details that were voluntarily moved or unaligned, or precise details of crossing roads and modified directions, and details that were not visible on the satellite photos but only estimated, or patiently looked for by looking at actual street photos, such as street numbers, collected myself and not from the partial views visible in Google StreetView).

How is that possible that Google Maps can display those details without crediting the OSM source or at least indicating its applicable licence? Instead Google just displays its OWN restrictive licence. It llooks like an abuse by Google, and I don't see why Google could steal our data and threatening us if we ever use some details that we could have collected when exploring Google Maps, or checking the closed view photos on Google Street View.

I don't think that this would minimize the work made by me in OSM, but at least Google should cooperate in a more friendly way, by admitting that it also aggregates data from open sources like OpenStreetMap (or other public map data collections with an open/free licencing that we also use and credit).

I really think that Google has all the means to track the sources of its data, even when it later modifies its aggregation (but under copyright law, it must still obey the rules of "derived works").

In the same way, I've seen Bing Maps also reusing OSM data, but I've not looked precisely the licencing terms (and Bing cooperates with OSM, by offering a free access to its satellite imagery)...

asked 02 Sep '11, 00:51

Verdy_p's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

closed 02 Sep '11, 20:33

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦


Do you have any examples?

(02 Sep '11, 10:04) Firefishy ♦♦

What about purposedly creating a small and discrete path, ideally in your own garden, that through a wise amount of loops would read something like "Google illegally copied this track from openstreetmap" in cursive way? If you manage to get this, I can guarantee your map will be discussed by millions of people, and without any court order, Google will quickly evolve...

(02 Sep '11, 10:39) Herve5

I do think that Google is not importing OSM data through a bot. What I think is that it can import OSM starting by using a separate layer, and then someone in charge of correcting or augmenting the Google data is so lazy that he does not want to redraw things. He will just perform a copy-paste operation from the OSM layer to the Google layer.

I can't imagine that he would be so stupid that he would not notice the message reading that the path was stolen by a Google employee or Google-paid provider...

(02 Sep '11, 10:50) Verdy_p

Your work might be copied by someone using Google Mapmaker - thus Google might not be aware that the work was copied.

(02 Sep '11, 11:57) Mike N

Those using Mapmaker are crfeating derived maps containing data published on their name. These data are not part of the default dataset used by GoogleMaps, which only displays layers selected and licenced by Google, or used by Google under licence from other providers (and in that case, Google Maps adds a copyright notice about those providers) But in my case, I've just seen the copyright of Google (for the map data) and of its provider of imagery (when using the satellite/aerial layer), and sometimes the copyright of two wellknown commercial providers of data for navigation systems.

(02 Sep '11, 17:14) Verdy_p

And I doubt that Google ignores that data has been merged: if I don't show the aerial/satellite layer, the only copyright that appears on the map is the one of Google only.

(02 Sep '11, 17:25) Verdy_p

Given that Google Maps (and Google Earth which is the same, just allowing to select more layers from more data sources) uses the same architecture (with separate and identifiale datasources for each layer, ech one with its copyright notice or licencing terms), there's been someone, working at Google (or a company paid by Google to make the maintenance work) that has merged data from external sources (like OSM, possibly others) into the Google dataset, without authorization, so that these sources are no longer credited.

(02 Sep '11, 17:25) Verdy_p

Those doing that were paid to do that correctly and were so lazy that instead of correcting the Google dataset, they just imported data blindly as if they had created it themselves, violating their contract (may be it's not the fault of the person doing it, but the fault of someone instructing them to be so more productive that they asked them to borrow and import external data sources, using some bot and possibly a custom randomizer to hide their track. In other words, Google has some problems in implementing its own published policy...

(02 Sep '11, 17:26) Verdy_p
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The question has been closed for the following reason "Though interesting, this is not a question suitable for Please take it to mailing lists or direct to the Data Working Group - thanks." by Richard 02 Sep '11, 20:33

That's certainly interesting if true, but not a suitable topic for this help website. This website is for people having difficulties using OpenStreetMap to get solutions to their problems.

You should post your comments to one of the mailing lists, and perhaps also e-mail the Data Working Group of the OSM Foundation with your evidence.

permanent link

answered 02 Sep '11, 01:44

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
accept rate: 18%

Yes, you should rephrase your question to something like "what shall we do if we think that Google Maps or Google Maps Maker is reusing our contributions in OSM ?". The DWG should check your specific case then. But until now, we never found evidences about intentional license infringement from Google itself.

(02 Sep '11, 10:47) Pieren

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question asked: 02 Sep '11, 00:51

question was seen: 9,083 times

last updated: 02 Sep '11, 20:33

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