Question regarding OSM license restrictions

I’m planning on creating a web service based on OpenStreetMap, but before going futher I’m trying to make sense of the license restrictions and I have some questions. I hope some-one could help me out a bit, I really wouldn’t want to do something that is not allowed.

Okay so basically I’m planning on creating a self dependent web service, that would not be open for everyone, but a closed system that would have something around 5 to 50 specified users. The idea of the system would be to create and store lines drawn on the map. So each of the users would be able to draw on the map, add some metadata to the lines they drew (name, date, whatnot) and save the lines + metadata to my own MySQL database without exactly modifying the OSM map database-file at all. That all would happen on OpenStreeMap combined with some rendering/drawing library available in OSM wiki.

In addition to that, of course each of the 5 to 50 users would be able to search and view these “instances” that other have drewn, that would be the whole point of it. Like look at where the lines are, check out description text for the lines etc.

And I’m trying to figure out the restrictions on the license from here, and I basically cannot figure out which of the use cases applies on me, each of the first four (1-4) sound like they could be my case:

My thoughts:

Use Case 1: Would this apply to me and I would be under no restrictions, because my system is fully closed and does not reveal anything for public use? The thing is, that the system would not be used by only people from one company though (as the use case describes), but the users would be from something like 10 different companies, and I would be selling the system to a group of those companies. How does that factor into this? After all, it wouldn’t be a public service because “none of you” could ever access it, but it wouldn’t be something that I developed in my company for my company’s internal use.

Use Cases 2 and 3: The difficulty I have here is understanding what does “my own data” mean. I described to you above the way I would be looking at OSM, drawing lines on it, writing descriptions for those lines and saving them to database. So, I just cannot figure out if this is:

  1. using only OSM, as it is the only map software I am using and therefore I would fall under “Use Case 2” or
  2. publishing something based on OSM and my own data, because I after all I kind of “gather” some data from the users (who are using OSM only) and publish the combination of OSM map in addition with the data people inputted on the screen.

And now it goes to the “fine print”. The Use Case 3 states that:* “If you created your data without any use of OSM, and don’t merge it with OSM, then you have a “collective” database, not a derivative database.”*. And the problem is that I really cannot figure out if I’m doing that or not. Clearly I created some data with the use of OSM, so does that mean that I wouldn’t have a “collective” database, but a “derivative” database. This would be a showstopper for me, because then it states: “If you create a Derivative Database, you will need to make it available.”. And the whole point of my system would be that it would be closed and the database would not be available to general users on the Internet.

Then there is Use Case 4. It talks about publishing something with OSM and “data obtained elsewhere”. I would not be using any other map software or any other ready, existing or usable database of points of interests. But as I explained, I am saving information about these points of interest (as lines) on OSM-based web service. This one goes a bit deeper into the technical details; I’d like to point out that I would never really add anything INTO the OSM database. I would be saving information about these points of Interest in some standard format supported by any renderer library I decide to use, like WGS84 coordinates, KML files or something similar. So, do you agree with me on the fact that I wouldn’t be making a derivative database and I would not need to publish it?

So, it’s pretty much all described there and I really need some help understanding the requirements license bestows upon me. I would be making money for this web service, and I definitely don’t want to get mixed up with doing something that is not allowed.

EDIT: Simplifications.

depends… What is the licencing structure and principals your specified users give their data to your web service db?

Case 1: not valid, as you publish the web service to your specified users outside your legal company.
Case 2: not valid as there is additional data (created by specified users) on top of OSM data
Case 3: If the specified users give full rights of their data to you, then this seems to be the case. Your own the data on top of OSM data
Case 4: If the specified users keep their ownership of their data, then this is the case. OSM data and data from several sources.

This is how I read these not being a lawyer or legal expert.

If you are selling the service, you must consider case 6 as well, for your customers to be able to migrate OSM changes to the service without your monopoly.

Sounds like your service is collective - adding OSM data and pure OSM independent data together. However, if your specific users use OSM as a reference or any other way utilize OSM to create their data (like adding a line from a POI in OSM to another POI in OSM (but not adding it to OSM DB), then that data is derivate data and in each case you must consider the differences of collective and derivate cases.


HACY, thank you for your comment. If I understood (and deduced) correctly, lines drawn on the map, inside an application programmed over OSM, are derivative data.

So, basically I would need to give coordinates-database (= basically those lines in a machine readable form) freely available to any user who has access to the system, right? But I wouldn’t have the need to give it to anybody and everybody out there, like people reading this forum, right? At least the license document states like this: “You must make the derivative database available on request to anyone who received your data, viewed the work made from it, or used your service. You could do this by putting it on a site for free download, or offering your users the option of emailing you for a copy.”

And because having to give my coordinate DB freely available for everyone was the only possible problem to begin with (I got no problem with other requirements like having to attribute OSM), it’s starting to look that OSM license is suitable for me. Or any other ways of seeing this?

I think your reading is correct: You would have to make the machine-readable version of your content available to all users of your service, but not publicly.

But notice that the license would theoretically allow redistribution, i.e. there would be no restrictions (at least no copyright restrictions) against sharing data with persons who do not use the service. If you think that your users would be inclined to do so and you want to prevent that, you would have to take a closer look at that aspect.