Accepting user's terms for a Spanish (non-English speaker)

Let’s suppose a non-English speaker (neither French nor Italian) wants to join OSM, and he wants to be sure of the terms he accepts; therefore, he has to read them in their mother language to understand them clearly.

He has to follow this process to get the terms, in this case, in Spanish:

  1. On this page, a sentence in English points to “informal translations.” How can a newbie understand what is an “informal translation”? He can ask why the terms are not formal.

  2. In the “Informal Translation” page of the OSM, there are only three translations: German, Japanese, and Russian. This page is completely in English: Licence/Contributor Terms/Informal Translations - OpenStreetMap Foundation. The newbie could not understand the foundation at this moment and could be confused with signing on to the OSM page or being part of a foundation. At this point, a new user cannot understand there is a foundation behind it.

  3. The newbie will see the same contributor Terms on the first page. But there is a link to “unofficial translations.” He could ask, is there a difference between informal and unofficial?

  4. Now, a wiki page (for those of us who are contributors, we understand this, but not those who are newbies). He could ask: What is this? Wikipedia? He could feel that he was no longer on an OSM page. Also, this page has a mix of languages, but the important content is in English.

  5. Finally, he arrives at the Users’ terms in Spanish.

I highlighted in a red square the links this user has to click to get to the appropriate page. But I can be sure none only Spanish speaker has done that.

I think this is a ridiculous process. I feel this is kind of discriminatory if one cannot understand English.

Also, this led to 2 things:

  • Allow a tool like Google Translate or Deepl to translate the terms whichever way it wants, a process that could change the original meaning.
  • Ignore the terms, and misunderstand conditions. This led to imports of data with non-compatible licenses and import data from commercial maps.

I have faced this issue because I am from the LatAm community, and many new people think they can put on OSM whatever data they have found. I am pretty sure this is because they haven’t read the terms, and it is not easy for them to take a look.

I created this entry because Sara Berrio, who is creating a guide in Spanish about starting to contribute in OSM, asked me how to get the Users’ Terms in Spanish from the sign-up process she is trying to document. And I had to answer that currently, it is almost impossible to get the terms.

What do you think? How can be improved? Is there a chance to include the unofficial/informal translation on the sign-up page?


It would probably need somebody who is fluent in both (written) English & Spanish to translate it?

Possibly use Deepl, then go through word by word & adjust as necessary?

The main problem is the “english version” is legal document. It has to written in specific way to be considered legally binding. This usually requires a lawyer that is is at least bilingual and understands IP law(?). They need to create a similar document in each language so that each document all have the same legel meaning. Hiring a lawyer to this would be a huge expense that the organization has very little interest in doing. Especially when most members are technically minded volunteers. The unofficial translations are often enough for most non-English speakers to understand the how the license works.

I think there is two issue here: 1) finding a version of the terms in one own language 2) translating those officially.

As of 1), the website could be improved by providing whatever unofficial or informal version we have directly from the official contributor term page, with a disclaimer on those versions when needed. Now I agree it seems odd to seem to hide translations behind disclaimer links.

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Thank you, I hadn’t thought about that aspect.

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