License for diary content?

Hi all. I am curious what the license is for the OSM diaries content? There’s no explicit mention on the diaries pages, nor is there an option to declare a content license when you post. Anyone here know?


I assume that regular copyright applies (fully copyrighted by authors).

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why do you believe the contributor terms do not apply?

My guess is because the contributor terms talk about the geo-database, and you wouldn’t normally expect the diary entries to be in a geographic database.


Why do you think they would? CT talk about

contributing data and/or any other content (collectively, “Contents”) to the geo-database of the OpenStreetMap project

unless this is poorly worded and includes non-geo content?

Sorry @EdLoach missed your comment, I was saying pretty much the same thing you already said…

it says it governs “the intellectual property rights in any Contents that You choose to submit to the Project in this user account.” i.e. everything OpenStreetMap but the wiki.

It also says something about “geodatabase” in the first sentence, and even if it were limited to geodatabasecontents the diaries would still qualify, as you can add a location to your post.


Asked on legal-talk as well, The legal-talk July 2022 Archive by thread


I agree with Berrely

I certainly feel that the we should make users release diary content under a free licence before they publish.

I think dieterdreist’s reading is the most reasonable, so OSMF can hopefully just clarify the outbound license and clarify the posts are under cc-by-sa 2.0.

The current contributor terms give very wide latitude to OSMF:

This contributor agreement… clarifies the intellectual property rights in any Contents that You choose to submit to the Project in this user account.
Subject to Section 3 and 4 below, You hereby grant to OSMF a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable licence to do any act that is restricted by copyright, database right or any related right over anything within the Contents, whether in the original medium or any other.

The problem with all of this is that you are assuming that it is a good thing that other content would be covered by the contributor terms. There are a number of reasons why that is a bad idea, not to mention that any significant change to the CTs is from a practical pov near impossible, so it is unlikely that the OSMF would move in that direction.

All that said, just ask the original author for permission, not a big thing.

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It could be the other way round. That is, Martijn wanting to post something as a diary post but not give away copyright / include content that is already under a specific licence.

Your content published in your OSM diary belongs exclusively to you and is protected by copyright, unless you indicate otherwise.

OSMF reserves the right to sub-license your contributions (“Your Content”) to the geo-database of the OpenStreetMap project as part of a database. This is clearly specified in the contributor terms.

Your personal diary entries are not contributions to the geo-database of the OpenStreetMap project or any other database. It is assumed by default that your content is copyrighted and that you are the intellectual property owner of your personal content, unless you indicate otherwise.



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The criterion is not technical but legal. Your personal content belongs exclusively to you and is not part of the geo-database of the OpenStreetMap project referred to the contributor terms.

Your posts, private messages, or email address can not be sub-licensed by the OSM Foundation as a piece of data, although internally all such information may be stored on OSM servers in the form of a database.

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My diary posts are in the public domain under CC0. I just decided this, I will put it on my profile

FYI, I’m on the OSMF Board. We could seek legal advice on this topic, but I’m unsure if that’s a productive use of OSMF Board time. If anyone has a serious need to answer this question, then you can always email the OSMF Board to ask. (I asked Martijn, who said thos wasn’t a pressing matter for them).

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Thanks for asking Amanda. I didn’t expect this topic to generate this much discussion. The original reason I was asking about this, is because I was pondering searchability of diary entries. Mappers have since pointed out that you can search the diary entries with a well-crafted search engine query. This in turn inspired me to create a Wiki page about diary entries in general, which curiously did not exist. Some search engine examples are included there.

This all does not mean that the licensing of diary content should not be clarified, but I don’t see this as an urgent topic, as I indicated to Amanda already.

Thanks for the discussion!