The statement the OSMF should have made


A lot of fuzz has been made in the OSM community in the past week about a new cooperation that has been announced to start between a number of US tech companies. I am not going to comment on this in substance at this time (because there is nothing of substance to comment on so far and because i have moved away a bit from doing real time commentary on OSMF matters in general). For those who are interested in meaningful commentary i would point to Ilya’s comment, which – although i disagree with quite a few considerations of his – is the most considerate and informed comment i have seen so far.

What this blog post is about and where i could not refrain from commenting on in some form is the statement released by the OpenStreetMap Foundation today. And i don’t actually want to comment on it, instead i want to present – for your consideration as readers of this blog – the statement that in my eyes the OSMF should have made:

The OpenStreetMap Foundation is pleased to hear the announcement of a number of large users of OpenStreetMap data to cooperate more on the use of OpenStreetMap data and other Open Geodata sources. In particular the announcement that the results of this cooperation are to be largely published under open licenses is good news for the Open Geodata and the Free Open Source Software community.

OpenStreetMap data is available for anyone to use under the terms of our license and we have published guidance on how you can make sure to meet these license requirements when using our contributors’ data, in particular also in combination with other open data sources. Given the partners in this new cooperation have indicated that their contributions of data are going to be released under terms compatible to the ODbL, we do not envision difficulties with our license terms. We will of course continue to keep an eye on how OpenStreetMap data is used to ensure equal and fair conditions for all OpenStreetMap data users. By sharing data you combine with OpenStreetMap data for a more valuable combined product under compatible license terms – as it is required by our license – you support the idea of Open Data and by providing attribution for the OpenStreetMap contributors whenever you use OpenStreetMap data or data and services made with OpenStreetMap data in a form that ensures that your users become aware that OpenStreetMap data is used, you show appreciation and provide support for the work of millions of mappers in our community.

We invite the Linux Foundation as the organization hosting this new cooperation to become a corporate member of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. By doing so you support the OSMF in supporting the OpenStreetMap community with important infrastructure for their volunteer work and this way also provide material support for the OpenStreetMap community.

The strength of OpenStreetMap is its large global and globally widely distributed community of contributors and the local knowledge they provide as mappers to our project as well as the diverse skills and the expertise they bring into continuously further developing and improving the way we map our planet. We therefore do not consider the more industrial and mechanized geodata aggregation and processing ideas this new cooperation has announced to pursue to in any way compete with the work of the OpenStreetMap community. There could be chances in the future for data released by the new cooperation to be of value for our mapper community to support and help them in their work and the share-alike terms of our license help ensure that such data would be available for such use. But the core of OpenStreetMap and the key to our success is and will always be the commitment of our mappers to sharing their local knowledge and to cooperate in making this shared knowledge available to everyone.


  1. I don’t know if you are seeking feedback on your alternative text, but if you are may I suggest shorter sentences. There is research that quantifies what proportion of people understand a sentence on first reading based on its length. Try to keep below 25 words. One of your sentences is 83 words long! At this length pretty much all native English speakers will need to read it multiple times, and even then may not understand it all. It’s obviously going to be harder for non-native speakers.

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