Template document for data usage in OSM

I have seen these Permission templates to use/convert data from CC-BY v2, 3 or 4 into ODbL (because of the incompatibilities). Also a document to use Imagery for tracing in OSM.

But I was looking for something more generic, something like just to ask if we can use the data from a “document” and map it on OSM, telling the “owner” that the data will be under the ODbL license. Some examples are:

  • The map of a Mall. It has the internal parts of the building, the shop’s names, the type of shop, and other information.
  • The map of transport routes. Some small towns have this information published everywhere, and we just want to map it on OSM.

These are some examples where just a simple document could be useful. However, the documento I am looking for should be something simple, and not with all the legal stuff that could scare the requestees.

Is there something like this? This could be very helpful to ask for simple data documents.

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I only know of these German templates, don’t know if there are English ones somewhere:


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In Brazil all this legal stuff scares people from organizations (I don’t believe the templates provided by OSM are friendly). I managed to obtain lots of data with much simpler requests; they were all friendly to me (and even invited me to give some internal presentation).

However, some people from OSM community think that those might not be sufficient, and the “official waivers” are the reference.

So I’m not sure if my template is good enough, but you can translate to Spanish and see if you have a better return.

PS.: I always add them to the Contributors list and cite them in the changeset when I use their data on those edits.


I’ve seen the same thing when talking to local GIS departments in the U.S. It doesn’t matter how much the staff love using OSM and even contribute to it on their free time; the moment you bring up legalities, it goes to the legal department. The more detail you ask of the legal department, the less likely they are to say yes or even get back to you with a straight answer. On the flip side, if you ask if the data is in the public domain, that causes a lot of confusion too, because a lot of people think “public domain” just means “public”. By this reasoning, anything on Google Maps is in the public domain! :see_no_evil:

Over the years, I’ve had more success introducing myself as an OpenStreetMap contributor and simply asking, “Are there any restrictions to reusing this data?” Some respond that there are none whatsoever, while others say no but kindly ask us to repost the disclaimer somewhere. Some express consternation that various OSM people keep asking them about the rights to the data, as if they care that much.

This doesn’t constitute legal advice, but I do think the KISS principle is worth consideration when dealing with organizations that don’t regard their data as a profit center.


It’s definitely true that organizations who don’t really have a problem with us using their data may not give us permission simply because it’s too complex to handle such a request internally. But of course, not involving the legal department carries the risk that the well-meaning staff may simply be wrong to assume you’re allowed to use the data for OSM.


I recently (2022/10/10) sent an email to a public transport company but still not reply… :confused:

They publish a GTFS file on their website (which I suppose is what GMaps uses), but there’s no license in sight. I’ve seen wiki pages mentioning the use of this GTFS, but no mention of the legal part, hence why I’m sending an email myself.

All this to say: your approach sounds reasonable to me. In my email I asked explicitly about the license, and stated that this license, to be used for OSM, must be compatible with the ODbL. Maybe I just scared away whoever got the mail…

Yes, good point. It definitely isn’t advisable to keep legally trained staff in the dark. My assumption is that even asking generally about restrictions will automatically get the legal department looped into the conversation, just in case – at least that’s been my experience – but it’s best not to make the situation more complicated than it has to be in an initial message. There can be more nuance in the subsequent conversation, for example suggesting an open license because they don’t want to put it in the public domain, but a boilerplate message can’t really help with that.

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