Are you unintentionally using copyrighted data?

Yesterday I discovered that I had unintentionally mapped a local village using the copyrighted map data loaded into my Garmin Vista HCx.

Last weekend I collected the track data for mapping the village where I grew up. While most of the data looked perfect, there were a few areas where the track jumped across and joined a parallel road. I put this down to poor signal, and went ahead with mapping the area anyway. Yesterday I repeated the route to gather more data, check street names etc. On viewing my track log, I found that the previous week’s track excursions were repeated in exactly the same locations in the new data. This was too much of a coincidence, and a bit of Googling turned up something shocking; this GPS, (and I suspect many others), “corrects” the satellite derived location to a point on the closest road. My track was an almost exact copy of the map loaded into my Garmin, and the village that I had just mapped was effectively mapped using the same copyrighted data. I have now deleted my map changes until I can collect some untainted data.

It appears that this feature can be turned off, (Map Setup – Lock on Road = off), although this post, (, seems to suggests that this is only partially effective.

I guess that by removing the Garmin maps from my GPS, then the track data that I collect from now on will be “real” and untainted, but how do we prevent thousands of potential OSM contributors with mapping GPS units from making the same mistake?


Yes it’s a known problem, which I think is supposed to be mentioned in the tutorial… Can you confirm that your Garmin locks onto roads when you go by car/train even if the lock on to roads feature is shut off? This is very important to know…

I’m guessing “remove all garmin maps, from your device” isn’t much help for garmin users?

OK, I’ve been using the Vista HCx with “lock on road” set off for the last couple of days, and can confirm that it operates as expected; that is, the track does not seem to be influenced to any noticeable degree by the loaded map. Without repeating Ebenezer’s train experiment, I cannot say for sure that the map has no influence, (it’s hard to travel at any real speed parallel to a mapped road), but I’m now satisfied that my track is OK to use when creating maps.

Am I taking this copyright issue too far, is this really a serious issue? After all, I guess what we’re trying to avoid is anyone casting doubt on the open & free nature of the OSM data. Could the use of “lock on road” track data when creating maps really be used against us? I’m not sure, but I think it would be a sensible precaution to make users more aware of this common GPS feature.

I couldn’t find any mention of this problem in the Beginners’ Guide, (or anywhere else in the help Wiki come to that). I guess I could add this to the Wiki myself, but as a very new member of the community, I’m nervous about wading in and making changes to such a widely read resource when it’s not warranted.

To me there is an other reason not to use the “lock-to-road” feature: you also repeat errors in the map. In NL many roads have been professionlly mapped, but the accuracy “leaves room for improvement” :wink: (many years old data). With the WAAS/EGNOS setting on the HCx Vista, there is quite a high accuracy possible. (in open field it indicates 3-4 m)

Yes I agree with Hugo, the problem with lock on road is more of a problem with incorrect data than copyright IMO… If they really want to claim copyright TeleAtlas should require Garmin to put a “copyrighted by TeleAtlas” in the GPX logs… :slight_smile:

I use OSM based Garmin files while tracking. No copyright conflicts and I can see missing streets.