Derivative Use of OSM - and dangerous alpine hiking routes

I’m considering using OSM as a base map for a project. I’m happy to upload any tweaks if I make any to fulfil the licencing requirements, however, there are some very dangerous hiking routes shows as “highway” - ‘paths’.

These involve some steep, exposed rock climbing that could easily result in a fall & fatal injury. The map I’m creating is aimed at experienced climbers/adventurers and I intend to include some of my GPXs indicative of the route, with the appropriate annotation and warnings.

It seems really irresponsible to consider uploading these back to OSM in the ‘highway’ attribute as they’ll turn up on all of the hiking trace apps.

Can I simply omit the existing OSM ‘paths’ and use mine without uploading to OSM? Would OSM consider a new attribute category called ‘rockclimbs’?

Uploading any other trails are fine, I’m not precious over them. It’s easy to find gpx’s of the routes that others have shared on Wikiloc.

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Late last year, I proposed “highway=scramble” as a primary base tag for sections of hiking trails, where use of hands is required for balance or advance. That might make sense for you? Please note, this proposed tag, while not approved, rather be used in accordance to the now in draft again proposal, so not for climbs that require gear, just non-technical scrambles up to UIAA II, incidentally the same as what in my understanding “highway=path” should max out, but does not do in practice.


Can I simply omit the existing OSM ‘paths’ and use mine without uploading to OSM?

Yes, you merely need to also make them available under the terms of the ODBL. This doesn’t mean you have to upload them to OSM.

But also, do these maybe qualify for highway=path + sac_scale=T4 (or T5 or T6) (Key:sac_scale - OpenStreetMap Wiki)


I think a new column would be more robust, in terms of safety - as the developer would need to specifically style those, and it’s on them to either omit it or do it appropriately.

The routes I’m thinking about are remote scrambles and people sometimes use ropes.

Daniel - are you say that you just need to be prepared to share the trail if requested?

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Licence/Community Guidelines/Horizontal Map Layers - Guideline - OpenStreetMap Foundation may be relevant.

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The routes I’m thinking about are remote scrambles and people sometimes use ropes.

if the use of ropes is necessary I would not add them as paths. There is also highway=via_ferrata if the way has been fitted with technical measures for attaching to with gear.

Generally it is great if you want to contribute to OpenStreetMap but you are not obliged by the license.


yep. Tho probably easier if you just make it available(as something like a geojson or gpkg file) without anyone asking and offer a link to download your data by default.

Thanks for the link, I’m still a little confused about the derivative requirements. The maps will be printed, rather than digital.

Am I right in my understanding that if I omit a whole OSM attribute category, for example: ‘highway’ (that includes all roads, trails, paths etc.) Then I can add these from another third party source or my own, and this isn’t considered derivative.

But if I turn off just the ‘trails’ from within the ‘highway’ attribute, then add new ones from gpx’s then these are considered derivative.

And if the additional roads, trails, paths etc. are added from a third party source they’re not covered by the derivative license because I don’t own them.

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Horizontal layers are something like:
You publish a map, one layer is created using OSM-data, then you add another layer on top with other data ( for example a set of POI, gpx-track of your recent hiking trip,…) then you don’t need to publish your data as ODbL. Both dataset are not mixed up. Of course your data in that case is not allowed to be somehow derived from OSM-data.

For example:
You publish a map of town A. In town A are 5 restaurants. 4 are available in OSM. In order you enhance your map, you add the missing one as a separate layer. Then your dataset was created / filtered based on OSM data.

But if you don’t show any of the OSM-restaurants and add all the 5 restaurants without any interaction (copy, align,…) with OSM, they are considered as separate layer.


The terminology at the link I posted is feature type. You’ll have to decide for yourself how that maps to various tag combinations and back. Like are roads the same sort of feature as climbing routes?

Of course if you want to merge your data with similar data from OSM and display the result, horizontal layers won’t apply.

You can also filter/display OSM data based on various attributes, not only highway


I am a bit at a loss, if you want to contribute to the OSM dataset or just use it as a backdrop for printed handouts - Do you guide tours?

I do not care much about the danger aspect - I trust people’s basic instincts to make them avoid hazards, when they front them on the ground. Still, I do not consider it nice, to map paths, where lots of people will shy from.

I am also a bit into so-called intellectual property. I would not be afraid the least to hand out maps of my itineraries on paper to my customers/friends/whoever where the only added value is a route from GPX that is not in the OSM data.

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Yes my post probably was a bit muddled. My original query was regarding the alpine routes and then I sought more general clarification about the licensing. We’re producing a topo/geological map from various data sources (including some layers from OSM), plus our own data processing.

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Do you plan to take all paths and roads from some other map source? Or all paths from some other source and roads from OSM?

Do you want to modify either OSM data or external data so they will match each other at joins?

My understanding is that if you take all paths geometries from other sources and you will not modify it based on OSM data and you will take OSM data for things other than paths and you will not modify it to fit your path data, then per Licence/Community Guidelines/Horizontal Map Layers - Guideline - OpenStreetMap Foundation attribution requirement is not triggered.

Warning: I am not a lawyer

Warning: this is just my private understanding based on reading Licence/Community Guidelines/Horizontal Map Layers - Guideline - OpenStreetMap Foundation