Since a few months I dove into the mapping thing like a mad man. Having access to tons of geodata makes that really fun and rewarding. Playing with JOSM I’ve really wondered why they could use aerial imagery Bing data for OpenStreetMaps. So I went to search for what the licenses where all about.

I quote from the Wiki:

Bing have declared that we are allowed to trace from their aerial imagery for OpenStreetMap.
You are not allowed to copy from Bing’s streetmaps – only their aerial imagery (i.e. the overhead pictures taken from a plane or satellite). Streetnames and other names are not part of the aerial imagery, and may not be copied.

Turns out that Bing actually gave permission to be used for OSM entries. NOT by copying the maps itself but using the aerial for vectorizing buildings – for instance – is perfectly Ok.

I think this needs a double thumbs up. Being so Microsoft, I think that is way cool that they decided that. I’m sure there are benefits for them as well (like when they use OSM vector data themselves). But still, coming from the Microsoft gang… that’s an admirable quality Tuvok would say.

It’s really helpful too. Bing is also the one that has the least detailed and correct data, I noticed this when I wrote a reverse geocoding class so I guess they’ve put 2 and 2 together by now and could very well be thinking about merging OSM data on a deeper level besides just offering an OSM layer and donating some vector data back to the OSM community.

Collaboration like this should be applauded upon, whatever the business reasons are behind it.