Sources for street names and road references.


Is it Ok to use regular maps (eg. to source road names etc?

ie. I´m building the data using my GPS tracks, but after I´ve added a road can I use google maps to find out the real name of the street?

Thanks for your help,


No not acceptable in anyway, Sorry.


What are the alternative sources for this information? Things like street names must be in the public domain somewhere?

They are, and can be found in that form on most street corners.

You can ask your local council for their official list of street names, and permission to use that for this purpose, if it isn’t already PD. Perhaps they’re even inclined to release more information to you, which is always a good thing.

Thanks for the replies.

I’ve only just started working on OSM so I’m glad that I sorted this out early. Got on the bike this morning and I’ve made the start to gather the information the “old fashioned way”. I also made sure that no other such names/refs are used in other data that I added.

Is it the case that once the copyrighted data has been deleted then that’s the end of it?

Finally, although I glanced through the tutorial early on, I really was so keen to get started that I didn’t follow the link down into the easter egg page (from It’s actually that page which gives a much clearer set of guidelines regarding copyright and I think that this information should be brought up to the higher level.



Dear all!

Sorry to bring this zombie thread back to life :wink: .

I have a similar question:

I have been putting name tags on a lot of parks and squares in Buenos Aires based on the official names that can be found on the website of the city government of Buenos Aires.

As can be seen also in the publication (which I am NOT using) the street names and also the names of squares are based on laws (ordenanzas and decretos). So, the information how a street is called MUST be in the public domain IMHO.

Do not get me wrong: I was NOT drawing streets or anything else by copying from the electronic map named above, I just use this digital map as a reference for the names of the parks.

Is this ok?



Has nobody an answer on that?


I guess that if there are ordenanzas and decretos that are available in the public domain that give you the coordinates of a park/square and its name, then that may be fine, but I’m no expert. Make sure you add a source: tag to explain where the name came from.

The book gives the legal sources of the streets of Buenos Aires. For the squares I have not found yet such a compendium but I suppose that also the names of the squares (plazas) and small square (plazoletas) are based on “laws”. Currently I am using the website as a source but as I said only for the names not for traces. There the source is the “Dirección General de Estadística y Censos - USIG” of the city of Buenos Aires.

So shall I put “Dirección General de Estadística y Censos - USIG” as the source?



Interesting document. It gives you the name of a street and the law that gave it that name, but it doesn’t tell you where the street is. So you can’t use it without referring to a separate map, which may be under copyright. Perhaps the original decretos/ordenanzas give you the location?

It’s a tricky one.

Yes, street names are always in public domaine (PD) but…
Many governements around the world publish documents with restricted access/usage. They don’t want that the work and money spent to collect the information is directly reused by e.g. commercial organisations for profit.
I didn’t look your document but it is always good to find the terms of use or the licence on which the document has been published. If you don’t find any clear statement saying that “commercial reuse” is permitted (as it is a classical restriction to public data collections), then it would be good to contact them directly, explain OSM and its licence and ask them if you can use their documentation for the project (possibly by sourcing the data).

Yes it is.

An example of one of these laws:

Ley 702 (2001):

Artículo 1º.- Modifícanse los Arts. 5º y 16º de la Ordenanza 52.180 -BM 422- que deberán decir:

"[...] Art. 16º .- Denomínase Olga Cossettini a la primera calle paralela al oeste de Juana Manso, en todo su eje, sin tener en cuenta los cortes topográficos".

Which means:

Call “Olga Cossettini” the first parallel street East of Juana Manso in all its extension without taking into account the topographic cuts.

So in principle, the laws are enough. But for convenience I was using .

Maybe I’ll write them in these days and ask them whether we can use as a reference for the naming of the streets and squares in Buenos Aires (for not-for-profit and commercial reuse)

If they agree I could even ask for the use of this map for tracing later on.

What do you think?



I think that’s the best approach. Though the details in the law are enough for you to be able to name any street, as long as you have a known starting point (that you could verify by sight, if needs be).