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The book

Using and Enhancing the Free Map of the World.
By Frederik Ramm,
Jochen Topf,
and Steve Chilton.


Karlsruhe Hack Weekend 29-30 October 2016

Open Data

Free geodata and free software

We do not work with free data exclusively, but we prefer to. "Free", in this context, does not primarily mean that the data is available free of charge. When we say "free", we mean that the data is available free of restrictive licensing terms.

The idea of free data - and free software - does have a political component. Free data encourages creativity and innovation, and enables a large number of people to contribute their ideas. But for daily use, free data has tangible and pragmatic benefits: where data, format specifications, and software are open to everyone, where world-wide communities work with the same data, many problems that one encounters have already been solved by someone else, and the solution can be found. Know-how stops being a well-guarded company secret. We benefit from this situation in our work, and in return we contribute our results back to the community - not only because fairness dictates it, but also because it makes sense economically, as the products of our work will be thoroughly tested and improved by others.

As we use free data, our customers will usually enjoy freedom from most kinds of license restrictions. In particular, any data we produce or refine can be distributed in any way and through any channel. For example, if you start out with a simple web map and later want to make it available to your users for downloading, this will require zero additional licensing and of course not incur any licensing fees. You do not even have to record how many copies of something you distribute. The absence of such license requirements saves a lot of money and trouble.

Most of the data we use employs a so-called "share-alike" license. From this arises one important condition for using the data: You must not take away the "freedom" of the data. You can publish data or derived products in any way you like, but you must not forbid others to take your data and modify or distribute it further. For most mapping uses, this requirement does not pose a problem.

If you have any questions regarding this type of licensing and you want to know if and how you could use free geodate for your application, do not hesitate to contact us!