Monday, November 9, 2009

Credit where credit’s due

One of the questions I am often asked is “Great Leader, how should I attribute OpenStreetMap on my iPhone app?”

My answer is of course that Cloudmade will be more than willing to take care of all your attribution worries for a modest monthly subscription to our tile service.

Unfortunately some guys at failing Web 1.0 properties are not smart enough to avail themselves of our service. So just for you guys, because I’m not Evil, I’m going to explain OSM attribution for you free gratis and for nothing.

The crucial point to remember is that our license requires you to credit everyone. Yes, every single contributor who has made a Substantial contribution to OSM.

Now the copyright bores on legal-talk will drone for England (Oxford usually) on what Substantial means. But it is actually really simple.

If you just move one street, or add a roundabout, or map a whole city which unfortunately happens to be in Germany, that clearly isn’t Substantial.

However if for example you establish a world-changing open mapping project, secure €2.6m in VC from genuinely nice guys, and spread the OSM gospel to the four corners of the world via a punishing flight schedule that would make even Ol' Ed blanch, then that is a Substantial contribution and you deserve credit, as well as a free holiday somewhere hot and a lifetime’s supply of designer eyewear.

Happily OSM only has a small number of such contributors, well one in fact, which makes attribution much easier. Let me give you some free examples.

A good example is the OSM signup email, the first thing any new mapper sees. This gets right to the point by mentioning the Substantial Contributor in 11 different languages. Turns out I’m the fundator, the grondlegger and in Germany, the GrĂ¼nder. I may have to get Nick to check that last one out. I think the Germans might be taking the piss.

An example of how not to do it is ‘OpenStreetMap: die freie Weltkarte nutzenkatzenjammerhermanngoering’, a book by some Germans. This only mentions the Substantial Contributor in Appendix VII, on page 164, which is patently not “reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing”. And even then it calls me an Erfinder. The bastards.

So now you know who to attribute, you just need to know how. Just copy and paste this handy logo into your iPhone app.