Mapbox does not satisfy attribution requirements?

Mapbox is a service that provides map rendering SDK’s and maps based on OSM.

On small screens these maps don’t comply with the attribution requirements.

Licence/Attribution Guidelines - OpenStreetMap Foundation
Attribution must be presented to anyone who uses, views, accesses, interacts with, or is otherwise exposed to the map or produced work. The attribution format should not require individuals to interact with the map or produced work to see the attribution.
[emphasis mine]

Mapbox handles small screens by collapsing the attribution into an (i) button that must be clicked to see the attribution. The way I read the guidelines this is not allowed.

Furthermore, if the attribution is collapsed, the Mapbox logo is still visible. I think this is a violation of the following guideline:

Other attribution, logos, or text must not create any false or misleading impression that OSM data is not from OSM. The text may appear at the same time as, or next to, other attributions.

These violations go further on their own website as there are some maps that completely lack attribution.

Can someone who has a better understanding of the license text verify that these are indeed violations of the license and contact Mapbox to resolve these on their site and in their SDK’s (so it gets fixed on all their customers sites as well).


thank you for bringing this up. I believe it should be the board to decide how to handle this and similar cases (e.g. Facebook also still has such an attribution “i” which requires to click on, as I just checked now). If it should be found that the attribution in this form was not suitable to satisfy the attribution requirements, in particular 4.3 “…if you Publicly Use a Produced Work, You must include a notice associated with the Produced Work reasonably calculated to make any Person that uses, views, accesses, interacts with, or is otherwise exposed to the Produced Work aware that Content was obtained from the Database, Derivative Database, or the Database as part of a Collective Database, and that it is available under this License.”, it would mean that the use of the database was without a license, because of 9.0ff “Any breach by You of the terms and conditions of this License automatically terminates this License with immediate effect and without notice to You.”

This is not really news, by the way, basically since 2012 there has been discussion about supposed license violations, and here and there something has also slightly improved (e.g. Apple now attributing more prominently the map data also to OSM and not just TomTom, although not on the desktop if I see it correctly). Generally the problem is that these companies are really powerful (mapbox much less than Facebook or Apple, naturally) while the OSMF is not, so even if the legal situation seems to be on our side, it is not clear if we would win a lawsuit, and it is also not clear if winning a lawsuit would be overall benefitial for the project and our goals (first of all open geodata). On the other hand, as the project has chosen a viral license with share alike provisions and attribution requirements, it seems clear that not respecting the terms is disrespectful and against the project.

On a side note, as their argument usually goes “there is not sufficient space”, look at your screenshot how they found the space for a mapbox logo and how there wasn’t to spell out “OpenStreetMap”. If there are space constraints, why don’t they put the mapbox logo behind the “i” and have OpenStreetMap permanently on display?

I believe it is really a disgrace that out of all companies Mapbox, who have based their whole company success on OpenStreetMap data which is essential to their business (I imagine) are ignoring the community and spit in the face of all contributors by continued, well calculated refusal of what is most important for a project such as ours: leading the attention from the users to the project.

Maybe the lawyers of these companies are suggesting that there can be different interpretations of the license compared to what we wrote as preferred by the project in the attribution guidelines, i.e. that you could get away with an attribution that doesn’t follow the spirit of the license and the project but is there “somewhere” just as a safeguard to be pointed at in defense of unsufficient attribution allegations.

My suggestion would be to speak first to Mapbox, because Apple and Facebook are even much bigger, and because Mapbox is a multiplicator and many other downstream users are served through them.

The way the ODbL works (and all CC licences outside of CC0), is that the licensor, in this case the OSMF, directly licences the database to the licensee, in this case the mapbox customers. So at best/worst there is a case to be made wrt mapboxes own use.