License for Minnesota State Forest GIS Data

I’d like to import state forest data for Minnesota, starting with shapefiles provided by the MN DNR (State Forest Statutory Boundaries and Management Units - Resources - Minnesota Geospatial Commons). The existing state forest data in OSM for Minnesota is incomplete (missing forests), overbroad (a number of forests map the statutory boundaries, rather than the actual land owned/managed by the DNR) and incorrectly tagged (the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest for example).

First off, is the license acceptable for import into OSM?

Second, this is the tagging that I propose:

name=Big Fork State Forest
operator:short=Minnesota DNR
operator:wikipedia=en:Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
operator=Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
owner=Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
protection_title=State Forest

The only thing that would vary is the is the name and the website link.

Third, the DNR provides a shape file of DNR owned/managed forests outside of the named state forests. Should those be imported? I’d use the same tagging as named state forests except that there wouldn’t be a “name” or a “website” tag.

Fourth, is there any value in having the statutory boundaries in OSM? Not sure what tags should be used in that case.

For reference, here’s an overpass query with the existing state forest data: overpass turbo
This import would basically replace all of that data.

I’ve created a git repo with my in-progress OSM files:

Hi Jeff, Welcome! Thanks for putting this together.

I presume that “state_forest_management_units.osm” is the actual file you are proposing to implement. I opened the file in JOSM, and ran the validator:

I might have some other observations later.


Yes, that is correct. I’ll continue my cleanup of the file once the license issue is cleared up. No point spending much more time on this if the data can’t be used.

I think the first term in the license makes the data not usable though I’m not certain how the “in its entirety” applies:

Data and/or software may be used for the creation of derivative works; however data and/or software in its entirety may not be resold, distributed or displayed for commercial purposes or otherwise.

There are plenty of users of OSM database who will display it for commercial purposes. My guess is that you could probably ask if you could use the data in OSM with its license term and get approval, but my (non-lawyerly) reading of this suggests that it is incompatible.


I don’t see a problem with the above, OSM would certainly be a “derivative work”, and the above clause allows for that.

I’m referring to the “however data … may not be resold, distributed or displayed for commercial purposes or otherwise”. What isn’t clear to me is how OSM’s relicensing of the data does not hinder such uses, so may infringe on this.

The first clause of the license is prohibiting you from downloading the data and redistributing it verbatim (“in its entirety”). The proposed import (and any subsequent use by OSM consumers) is a derived work, which is explicitly allowed.


Thanks @iandees

@Jeff_Ollie if you are still worried, Kathleen Lu suggested you email and they can put it on the agenda for next month.

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  1. Yes definitely! In Maryland, I imported a whole batch of what are called Chesapeake Forest lands. Originally I had named them all with their internal designation number, but upon survey realized that they have no name. The name in OSM is Chesapeake Forest land. The more green we can add to the map the better.

  2. Also, yes, definitely. The boundary protected area tag is meant to represent protected boundaries. Protected forest landings fall into that standard.

Take a look at United States/Public lands - OpenStreetMap Wiki for more tagging examples