[odc-discuss] Copyright status of OSM map data

Anthony osm at inbox.org
Fri Jan 27 01:48:38 UTC 2012

>>But the other criticism seems to misunderstand the earlier precedent, being
>>focused on what is being labeled rather than THAT it is being labeled.  That's
>>where the discretion is.
> I asked her to clarify by asking whether she is referring to the idea-expression
> merger doctrine:

I think this argument depends in large part on which labels we're
talking about.  If you're talking about street names, I can't agree
that there is any copyright to this.  There's nothing original about
labeling streets on a map, and there's nothing original about
selecting *as many streets as possible* as the ones to be labeled.

I fully agree there is a copyright on OSM.  I think the copyright is
strongest in areas like choosing how to represent a split in a
highway, and nonexistent in places like labeling the name of a road or
the speed limit of the road.  Things like categorizing highways are, I
believe, grey-area.  As a reuser of OSM I'd play it safe and assume
they are copyrighted.  As an author of OSM I'd play it safe and assume
they aren't.

I wouldn't think twice about copying street names from OSM onto street
names on my own proprietary map, and that's true whether OSM is
CC-BY-SA, ODbL, or otherwise.

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