Let's say Joe wants to add the coordinates of the Eiffel Tower to OpenStreetMap.

Joe opens Google Maps, enters "Eiffel Tower" in the search box. The Eiffel Tower appears at the center of the map. Joe then estimates where the center of the Eiffel Tower is and right-clicks on that pixel to show the exact latitude/longitude of the clicked point.

Can Joe add these coordinates to OpenStreetMap, which uses the Open Database License? Or does the Google Maps copyright still apply?

Note: All of this is done manually. While Google Maps probably has exact coordinates for the Eiffel Tower, Joe clicked pretty randomly so he won't have the exact same coordinates.

  • Great question, I was about to ask myself. I suggest one side/additional question: After what degree of own input would it be okay to upload it to OSM? Example: I have a dataset of land-cover and a dataset of village names (spelled differently than on google-maps). I'm using google maps to locate each place approximately and then obtain the village outlines from using the land-cover dataset. To OSM I'd just upload the outlines with the village-name from my original list.
    – sheß
    Sep 4, 2015 at 7:56

2 Answers 2


The main issue here is relates to the principal of 'derived data'.

In the example given Joe has opened up Google maps and clicked on a pixel that he has estimated as being the location of the Eiffel Tower. However, his decision to click on that pixel is not quite the arbitrary decision he might think it to be. While Joe may have a personal knowledge that the Eiffel Tower is located between Quai Branly and Avenue Gustave Eiffel he has looked at the Google map and by reference to the existing line work he has decide the location upon which to click. That is to say, he will have used his personal knowledge and selected a location between the two roads mentioned above, as they are represented in the Google data. This representation is copyrighted information and therefore in selecting a location in this manner has relied upon copyrighted data to DERIVE his selected location, thus the coordinates he has generated are Derived Data and therefore potentially in breach of clause 2 of the Google Maps terms (being derivative work).


I have seen entire changesets to be wiped out of OSM because someone traced over Google's streets or even copied just the street names.

If collecting a street name from Google Maps (manually even) can cause a changeset to be reversed, my guess is that collecting coordinates for POIs (Points Of Interest) can cause the reversal of the changeset - probably from violation of the license.

  • Would you mind linking to the revert in question, or even better to an OSM policy discussion about this topic? Thanks a lot!
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Sep 15, 2015 at 4:11
  • 1
    Hello @NicolasRaoul. I remember occasions from the brazilian mailing list (talk-br), but I really don't know the thread or changeset. I'll try to skim to some reverted changesets and I'll try to link them here! Sep 15, 2015 at 17:21

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