Using publicly available GPS tracks

There seem to be quite a few websites offering GPS tracks (in GPX or KML) format for hiking, rollerblading, traveling in general etc. that could be used very well for mapping, just like the publicly uploaded GPS tracks on OSM. My question is, how to find out, when this is legally acceptable and what guidelines to use to make sure they are accurate enough.

The reason I am thinking about this is, that I found a KML file for the Bruce Trail in Ontario Canada on Google Earth Community and was wondering if it would be useful to map that trail with it. I couldn’t find any information on the license under which the (user generated) geocontent is distributed by Google Earth Community (neither there nor elsewhere on the web).

Anybody has any ideas about this?

I think it’s frowned up on to download these kind of things since you don’t know where it comes from, might be a Garmin map converted to KML for all you know.

Would be nice to have a “

What emj says :slight_smile: So at least you need to know how they ‘generated’ the tracklogs.

And always ask permission to use the tracklogs for OpenStreetMap and its license.

I agree with the answers given so far. So what you’d need to find out is:

  • Are those tracks created solely by gps logging or are they created from / modified according to copyrighted maps/imagery? If the latter (which seems likely, given that the Google Earth Community tracks I looked at match Google’s maps suspiciously well), using them would mean indirectly copying information from those maps.
  • Do the track creators themselves allow using them for the purpose of creating commercially usable map data published under CC-BY-SA and future copyleft licenses (namely ODbL)?

And of course: If you are not sure whether the tracks may be used, don’t use them.