OpenStreetMap

Attributing OpenStreetMap

Posted by lxbarth on 30 April 2014 in English (English)

Updated attribution recommendations for Mapbox maps: http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/lxbarth/diary/21847

Showing how OpenStreetMap is a living map, and making it easy to start mapping is the first step to turn someone from passively looking at a map into improving the map. It's part of spreading the word and building our community. At Mapbox we power OpenStreetMap based maps to hundreds of millions of people, and this gives us a unique opportunity to connect them to OpenStreetMap and turn people from being passive map consumers into active map contributors. Driving contributors to OpenStreetMap is a key goal we pursue not only with attribution but also in our aggressive launch communications around prominent new customers.

Our goal is to feature OpenStreetMap to help grow the community - attribution plays a key role in this.

Attributing OpenStreetMap based Mapbox maps

For the web, at Mapbox we recommend the following two variations for attributing OpenStreetMap:

Attribution in collapsible info control

Same attribution as above but expanded

In both cases (c) Mapbox (c) OpenStreetMap links to https://www.mapbox.com/about/maps with a full listing of all sources. Improve this map links to a map feedback page that explains how the map viewed is based on OpenStreetMap and how OpenStreetMap can be improved by anybody. The map feedback page is smart and shows a) the exact map you came from and b) places you into OpenStreetMap exactly where you left the map so you know where to start mapping. It has an option to skip the map-feedback page the next time you click Improve this map and take you directly to OpenStreetMap.

Map feedback page

Maps made of many sources

Mapbox maps are made up from a multitude of sources, here are some of our main sources:

  • OpenStreetMap
  • Digital Globe
  • NASA MODIS, Landsat, SRTM
  • USDA NAIP
  • l'Institut national de l'information géographique et forestière
  • Canadian government
  • The National Land Survey of Finland Topographic Database
  • Norwegian Mapping Authority
  • Ordnance Survey data
  • INEGI
  • Geodatastyrelsen
  • DHM / Terrain
  • The National Dynamic Land Cover Dataset
  • Custom data added to map

This list is only growing as the source composition of our maps gets more complex. So the string (c) Mapbox (c) OpenStreetMap is crediting the map engine and design (Mapbox) and one of the most prominent data provider (OpenStreetMap) but it is also functioning as a placeholder that basically says "Attribution". This is why we link this string to https://www.mapbox.com/about/maps that contains the full list of all data. For related reasons, I also typically recommend using the collapsible info control over the expanded string on the map as it allows us in the future to add additional attributions into the map as needed without turning people's maps into NASCARs. This is a good compromise between visibility, legal requirements and the need for screen space to grow.

Mapbox can be used with any kind of map library. So, ultimately we do not have control over a given maps attribution, but if you use Mapbox with our recommended libraries, attribution will show up as explained above, otherwise it is up to the developer to ensure appropriate attribution.

Improvements

We're working to make this even better, and are planning to improve:

  • More granular attribution based on data actually in use on data (right now it's one size fits all and we show this attribution as soon as you use any of streets/satellite/terrain data). A lot of Mapbox maps do not use OpenStreetMap but still want to associate proper attribution.
  • Allow third party users to sign into OpenStreetMap with the account they're using on the map (think of signing into OpenStreetMap with your Foursquare account). We need to make it easier to let communities that start using OpenStreetMap become part of our community. This will have huge network effects. This will also take some work on the OSM.org side.
  • Map feedback also has an option to submit feedback as email, and have our team run point on edits, fully respecting privacy.
  • Share map feedback where it makes sense.

Examples

Here are two typical Mapbox powered maps with attribution (click to explore).

Mapbox Outdoors: OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey data, l'Institut national de l'information géographique et forestière, NASA SRTM, The National Dynamic Land Cover Dataset plus more.

InfoAmazonia maps: OpenStreetMap, NASA Modis, Landsat, Digital Globe, IBGE, InfoAmazonia.

Comment from imagico on 30 April 2014 at 17:37

It should be noted that attribution that requires a user action before it is actually shown is quite clearly in violation of the ODbL:

You must include a notice associated with the Produced Work reasonably calculated to make any Person that uses, views, accesses, interacts with, or is otherwise exposed to the Produced Work aware that Content was obtained from ...

Even if the ©OpenStreetMap is shown by default this is not the recommended form of linking as per

http://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/License#How_should_I_attribute_you.3F

It is really not conceivable to me why you would not link ©OpenStreetMap separately to the OSM copyright page (well except for channeling more people to the Mapbox pages which however seems kind of lame to me).

An additional advantage of http://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright in comparison to the Mapbox page is that it is localized in a lot of different languages making it much more comfortable for international users.

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Comment from RobJN on 30 April 2014 at 18:20

@imagico: I wouldn't say that it's "clearly in violation". It really comes down to how you interpret "reasonably calculated". Alex has also set out in this post why they don't link to the OSM copyright page (they need to show that the map is made up of several sources each with their own copyright).

I do tend to agree with you that https://www.mapbox.com/about/maps/ could be improved to focus more on the copyright (and OSM's story), rather than being overly flashy.

On the other hand the Improve the Map page is really good. It get straight to the point:

This map is powered by Mapbox and based on data from OpenStreetMap, a community driven dataset.

https://www.mapbox.com/map-feedback/#lxbarth.i48g0o0p/-53.635/-4.872/5

Perhaps Mapbox's copyright/about page could be more similar to the Improve the Map page.

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Comment from dieterdreist on 30 April 2014 at 18:27

@RobJN maybe it is not clearly in violation of the legal text (not saying it is not), but it is clearly in violation of the attribution recommendations given on osm.org.

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Comment from imagico on 30 April 2014 at 19:20

@RobJN - i do not want to start mincing words here but 'making a person aware of something' is usually understood as being distinctly different from 'making some information available to someone'. According to my understanding it has been the generally accepted interpretation of the cited section that the attribution has to be in plain sight to comply with this.

I understand and agree this can be a nuisance when you produce maps based on a lot of data sources and especially if OSM data plays only a very minor role. But these are the rules and it IMO is a matter of fairness that every data user is bound by those in the same way. And again i see no good reason why not to separately link ©Mapbox to the Mapbox page (with all other sources and showing off Mapbox products) and ©OpenStreetMap to the OSM copyright page.

But with all the criticism i should not forget to mention that the 'Improve this map' link and the corresponding page are a great idea and well executed. It would be nice to have something similar on osm.org that people can link to from their own non-Mapbox maps.

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Comment from SimonPoole on 1 May 2014 at 11:01

@imagico off topic, but as a pointer http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/SimonPoole/diary/21771 a fix the map page has been around for quite a while now.

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Comment from emacsen on 1 May 2014 at 11:55

This is a good compromise between visibility, legal requirements and the need for screen space to grow.

This is possibly your opinion, but the idea of compromise here is the cornerstone of the issue. The license is codified legal text, and just as you would not allow a customer to unilaterally decide that paying you only half your bill was "a good compromise", neither does it appear from this diary entry that many OSMers find that this is a good deal.

This issue of multiple attribution is not unique to MapBox. Google also has multiple providers, and you see on some maps that they have an attribution string that includes multiple providers. Furthermore, how you decide to attribute yourself, or how you decide to attribute your other data providers is not the concern of OpenStreeetMap, only how you attribute OSM.

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Comment from wille on 1 May 2014 at 19:05

The attribution is missing in a lot of Foursquare pages. On the check in pages, for example, the OSM map (by MapBox) is used at the background, but there isn't attribution to OSM: https://foursquare.com/tiago_davi/checkin/513bb733e4b03409ce2cc88b?s=pIAeWVYj1F1Gq1EMLBUS7ZxLq2s&ref=tw

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Comment from lxbarth on 1 May 2014 at 23:00

Willie - I'm working on this with the Foursquare team right now.

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Comment from chippy on 2 May 2014 at 22:38

I think this is hiding the attribution from the map.

Mapbox and you should not be recommending this collapsed control as the recommended way for attribution. Whilst it can be argued between lawyers what a violation is and is not, I think it's pretty clear to most mappers that it is against the spirit of the license and the OpenStreetMap project.

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Comment from freyfogle on 6 May 2014 at 10:18

Hi Alex,

one small suggestion for improvement - I was just checking out the mapbox map on http://www.zeit.de/politik/2014-05/nsu-terror-orte

I think it would be user friendlier to get "Improve this map" in the local language (in this case German).

my €0,02 Ed

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Comment from cquest on 9 May 2014 at 17:43

"Our goal is to feature OpenStreetMap to help grow the community - attribution plays a key role in this"

So... why hide the attribution behind a tiny almost invisible icon ?

When there's enough space on the map, it is against the spirit of ODbL (not "reasonably calculated") to require a user action to access attribution details.

Just as a reminder:

4.3 Notice for using output (Contents). Creating and Using a Produced Work does not require the notice in Section 4.2. However, if you Publicly Use a Produced Work, You must include a notice associated with the Produced Work reasonably calculated to make any Person that uses, views, accesses, interacts with, or is otherwise exposed to the Produced Work aware that Content was obtained from the Database, Derivative Database, or the Database as part of a Collective Database, and that it is available under this License.

Please update your post to provide a valid recommendation. Keeping it like this creates unnecessary confusion.

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Comment from lxbarth on 10 May 2014 at 21:29

Thanks for comments everyone. I've posted updates here: http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/lxbarth/diary/21847

Re: "improve this map" in German - good point, take a look at this code sample, it's easy to change the language in the attribution: http://bl.ocks.org/lxbarth/9490377

I will ping the Zeit Online team.

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