Copyright infringement

ScalableMaps are selling rendered (PDF / Adobe Illustrator) maps using Openstreetmap. The terms of use of ScalableMaps state the following:

The second and third restriction violates the openstreetmap license:

I would say that these maps are Produced works and they can be published under any license according to ODbL
However, I know that many of us will consider that PDF vector map is a derived database and therefore it should be share alike and under ODbL.

What seems to be missing from the ScalableMaps site is the notice that is required in the section 4.3 in the ODbL license:

A Database is defined as:

Clearly the PDF/AI file is a collection of material (nodes and vectors), which are arranged in a systematic or methodical way (as a map) and individually accessible (Adobe Illustrator can access the individual nodes and vectors) by electronic or other means offered under the terms of this license (the file can be downloaded electronically from ScalableMaps). So clearly the PDF/AI files fall under the definition of Database.

It is even possible to write an application to convert the PDF/AI file back into Postgre-SQL.

I said I knew this. There are also people who consider that a raster map is also a database because it is arranged in a systematic way and there are tools like which can recognize shapes from the image and convert them into vectors which can be saved back into database.

I suggest you to write a mail to, our experts should be reading that list.


I’m the author of ScalableMaps. As I repeatedly suggested to Richard, he should have turned to OSM legal-talk to discuss this. I’m certainly not brave (and lawyer) enough to claim that something is “clearly” a Derivative Database as opposed to being a Produced Work by ODbL’s definitions. That’s why in the past I’ve asked several times about this on the legal-talk, here’s one of the threads: (my question is below).

I’m happy to add a 4.3 notice about the ODbL license.

As for the PDF/AI files offered on ScalableMaps, they do not directly encode any geo metadata, OSM IDs or tagging data. The shapes have been simplified to reduce the size of the final file, features categorized differently than the original OSM tags (etc.) so even if you decide to reverse-engineer it, it would be far from a perfect copy of the original OSM data. And even if you did that, that one would then indeed become a Derivative Database (based on what people are saying on the legal-talk list), so it would fall under ODbL.

If the definition of what constitutes a Derivative Database is “something that can be reverse-engineered into a geo DB”, then I would like to see an example of a thing that can be a Produced Work under such a wide definition. As JRA mentioned, even rasters can be vectorized, so it’s just a question of how much/how good the reverse-engineered data can be extracted, not whether it can be.