I am planning to release a videogame with a map based on the real map of a city (or part thereof) based on the Open Street Map. It would also include Open Street Map in the game, almost certainly modified. Open Street Map as a tiled map is released on CC SA BY which is compatible with GPL 3. I want to release my game on GPL 3. But there's a problem - Open Street Map as a database is released on Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL). This license is share-alike which means I would have to release any derivatives under the same open database license. As far as I know GPL does not allow additional restrictions placed on the released content, and I'm not sure whether I could even release parts of the game (i.e. code and most assets) on GPL and then the map on ODbL. Even if that was ok with GPL, if my work would be considered as a derivative of the map then I would still be bound to release the game on the database license which is unacceptable and also doesn't make any sense.

Can I include Open Street Map (MODIFIED - it's important as the license places the restrictions explicitly on modofied derivative works) in a game released on GPL 3 (or GPL 2) for that matter? Am I required to release any game that includes OSM through Open Database License?

edit: How I use the Open Street Map data --- the map itself (in tile form, released under CC-SA-BY also) as a map (in fragments) of the environment, in addiction the layout of the buildings, streets etc. all serves as the basis (trying to keep it accurate but for obvious reasons it's impossible) of the game map as it takes place in a certain real (postapocalyptic but that's irrelevant) city. So I tried to model specific places, streets and such from the map to specific places in the game. Also I thought it would be a good idea to use the street map (perhaps after some graphical tinkering) as the game's map as it would be both accurate and already done.

  • How dependent is your game on this particular database content? Would the game still be playable if it gets the database of a completely different location? May 29, 2019 at 15:44
  • Not really, it's also dependent in the way that the database content is used as a source of information and ultimately obvious inspiration for the level design
    – Niteraleph
    May 30, 2019 at 8:06

1 Answer 1


I think there's still some ambiguity about how your program uses the OSM content; I'm assuming that your code reads the OSM data and renders it to produce environment images that are displayed to the player in the course of his/her playing the game.

For me, that makes the OSM content input to your program, and the images part of its output. Corner cases aside, the licence of an executable program and the licence of that program's inputs and outputs are separate from each other; compiling proprietary code with gcc neither makes gcc proprietary nor requires the resulting executable to be freely-licensed.

The OSM data that you're shipping needs to be conveyed under ODbL (ODbL 4.2(a)), and your game needs to make it clear that it's using ODbL-covered data (ODbL 4.3). Your code, in turn, can be under GPL, without your inputs and outputs needing to be so covered. If the outputs were to be stored and conveyed as a work in their own right, that might complicate matters, but I'm assuming this is unlikely.

In short: IANAL/IANYL, but I don't think you have a problem.

  • Hmm, that's not the current design, but I could modify it somehow perhaps to do this. Since I work on MODIFIED OSM content, I need to release this modified OSM as well but that is not of any problem to me (I just want to release the game itself on a open source software license, don't mind sharing my modifications to the database itself)
    – Niteraleph
    May 31, 2019 at 9:07
  • 2
    So tell us in detail (by editing it into your question) what your program does with the OSM data; it'll help us write better answers.
    – MadHatter
    May 31, 2019 at 9:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.