The licensing line between Google Maps and OSM

Something suddenly occurred to me. Obviously, the licensing between Google and OSM is clear in that you can’t use Google data in OSM. And, unless Google is contractually obligated to use only once source, there is the option that they can use OSM as long as they acknowledge it. But, at what point is Google map data Google’s and not available for OSM?

I was comparing software that utilized OSM offline and noticed that a particular company I do business with was misplaced in the OSM data. I decided to check Google’s data as well and I believe that that was also misaligned. So, I fixed OSM and submitted a correction to Google. However, what if Google was right and OSM was just misplaced? If I’m looking for a location in OSM and I utilize Google to remember where exactly it was located (emphasis being remember because I know it’s there), at what point am I using Google data to pinpoint an exact location as compared to referencing Google to make sure I don’t put a pinpoint in the wrong spot?

As a general principle, we are not here to explore grey areas in licensing.

OSM has always sought to be whiter-than-white. Our aim is to produce a dataset that anyone in major jurisdictions can use without fear of legal reprisals.

Google is very clear that “When using Google Maps/Google Earth, you may not… use Google Maps/Google Earth to create or augment any other mapping-related dataset”. That’s pretty black and white. We’re not here to seek to get one over them in obscure points of copyright law; we’re here to create our own, independent, freely usable data. If that takes a little longer because we can’t copy from Google, fine.