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I'm planning on building a transportation related GIS App.

In the app, users will be allowed to add their own links to the network. For example, let's say a user wants to add a "driveway" in front of their house or a trail that's not on the OSM map. Is it possible to do so? Add to that, these additions should only be visible to the user that added those links and to whomever else they give access too.

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It's not clear what you're asking. You do whatever you want to OSM data that you download and host. Or, you host their edits and lay them over OSM data. What exactly is the problem you foresee? – Sean Jul 14 '11 at 19:29
@Sean - being able to perform network analysis, involved with pgrouting for example, or actually what is the mechanism to be able extend OSM data to what I want to do – dassouki Jul 14 '11 at 19:33
Be sure you understand the license of OSM, as certain conditions apply. If you add information to the database, then you're required to share those changes with whoever sees/utilizes renders of the data or the data itself. There are tricky bits about separate databases which I don't claim to understand, so I'd advise you read up on the details. – joshdoe Jul 14 '11 at 20:02
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If these additions should only be visible to the user that added them, then you cannot add the data to OSM. You will have to store that data using your own infrastructure (database servers etc.).

Note however that if your user adds a driveway based on the location of a (say) street that you displayed to her using OSM data, then the data entered by the user is subject to the OSM data license. In other words, you cannot claim your own ownership of that driveway data because it was derived from an OSM basemap or OSM vector data. As soon as you distribute (or show) that data to your users, you will have to release it under OSM's data license (with effectively renders it public).

In other words, I see a lot of legal problems with your proposed approach. I suggest taking a look at OSM's legal FAQ and asking this same question on OSM's forum

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How about if the entity that they're adding doesn't exist in real life? – dassouki Jul 14 '11 at 20:51
I'm no lawyer. But as long as the user positions and draws something on top of a base layer (be that OSM, Google Maps...), you have a problem. Example: a proposed highway doesn't exist in real life, but if you draw it based on a road that exists in OSM, this constitutes a derivative work (see…) – Igor Brejc Jul 14 '11 at 20:59
So i'm better off using my own dataset deliver it via openlayers and an wms server then, or something similar – dassouki Jul 14 '11 at 21:04
Yes. You can use the basemap and add your own data stored on your own server - but as soon as it is public (more than one other user viewing it) you are required to share the data under the osm license. – Mapperz Jul 14 '11 at 21:13
If you want to keep the data private and under your own ownership, yes. But you still need a base layer (WMS tiles) to show to the users, and the same rules apply there. Tracing over Google Maps isn't allowed either (…) – Igor Brejc Jul 14 '11 at 21:13

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