The Google Map Maker got a lot coverage from the Philippine local media when it publicly launched that the user-generated data from Map maker is now in the main Google map. (I longed for the day when Openstreetmap Philippines gets such hype from the mainstream media, but being a volunteer group, how can we organize such press event when we can’t even provide free beer to journalists?)
So what is the difference between Google’s Map Maker and Openstreemap?
Both projects at first glance looks very similar, “crowd-source mapping”. I believe Google Map Maker was partly inspired by the success of Openstreetmap. Google initially tested the concept in India and then expanded to other countries where the big road map makers don’t have any data.
Google Map Maker capitalizes on using satellite imagery to trace features the same way we do with Yahoo! images in OSM. Google clearly has the advantage on this front because they have waaaaay better imagery in the Philippines than that of Yahoo!. On the other hand, OSM can use gps traces where there is no imagery. A very good example is the recent update in Boracay.
The main difference between the two project is the LICENSE. The LICENSE provides you the “legal framework” on what you can/can’t do with the data.
If you look at the Map Maker’s license:
“you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, distribute, and create derivative works of the User Submission.”
By contributing to Map Maker, you are virtually allowing them to do whatever they want from your contribution.
Contributions to Map Maker are then fed into Google Maps, which then restricts you to:
(a) access or use the Products or any Content through any technology or means other than those provided in the Products, or through other explicitly authorized means Google may designate (such as through the Google Maps/Google Earth APIs);
(b) copy, translate, modify, or make derivative works of the Content or any part thereof;
(c) redistribute, sublicense, rent, publish, sell, assign, lease, market, transfer, or otherwise make the Products or Content available to third parties;
(d) reverse engineer, decompile or otherwise attempt to extract the source code of the Service or any part thereof, unless this is expressly permitted or required by applicable law;
This simply means, you give them data but you can’t use the data other than within Google’s own API. You can’t get the “source”, which, in this case is the vector data. All you get are free image tiles.
OSM’s license is totally different:
1. Anyone can copy OSM data.
2. But if you incorporate it into something else, that “something else” also has to be copiable under the same terms and conditions (ShareAlike).
3. When you copy it, you have to give credit to the copyright owner (Attribution).
(This license will soon change but the principles above remains intact.)
With this license you are allowed to get the “source” and do some neat stuff.
Another important thing is OSM allows you to use it for commercial purposes and build services around the data. You can get the “source” for free, build applications and sell them in any scheme you like. I don’t know about Google but I’m sure you need to pay extra to do that.
With several collaborative mapping project providing similar services, is it good or bad for the Philippines?
In some ways they are competing because both projects can split the map-making community. We need more volunteers the same way with Map Maker. On the other hand, I do welcome Map Maker as a healthy competition.
I believe the most critical aspect of such project is the enormous task of building a community around it. A community that will maintain and create innovative stuff around the “source”.
One problem I see with Map Maker is, since Google ultimately owns the data, the data will be used based on their own motives (ka-ching!), and not necessarily what the contributors want.
This post was first written in response to a journalist’s inquiry about OSM Philippines and Google Map maker. It didn’t get through the deadline though.