Google APIs - what's the story with their licensing?


My new build package features a link with Google maps. However, having had a look at their terms and conditions, I am unsure exactly where I stand with integrating their tools within my chargeable SaaS package. I am sure a number of you have experience of this and can fill me on on what the actual situation is in the following three scenarios:

  1. Users store data including zip codes in my system. I want a 1 click functionality where users can plot that address through google maps (nothing revolutionary!). Can I have a browser within the system that does shows this or do I have to set it up so it opens another tab in the browser? Is this also the case with Analytics? I know Dharmesh integrated with analytics - does this mean he pays a licensing fee
  2. As above but want user to be able to plot multiple sites from their address book in my system in google maps (a bit like tripadvisor does in showing where restaurants are in a particular city) - how can you get around this within google's T&Cs?
  3. I want to tie into the business address records listed in google maps API within my own interface. Google seem to say that they are ok with this if it available free through your website. Therefore, can I get around this if I take this feature and put a free version of it on my website. Obviously, the user has to pay to buy the rest of the my package but the part that uses their API is available free - does this get around it?

I obviously don't want/can't afford to pay the $10,000 licensing fee that they charge for starters so need to get a totally legal work-around

p.s. I realise no advice given to me constitutes formal legal advice and will not act on it without taking proper legal advice.

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asked Jan 31 '10 at 04:45
Dr. Phil
86 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

3 Answers


To make it short - if you are making money on your product which utilizes google maps you have to get license.

We had similar problem and decided not to mess with google.

Instead we found CloudMade.

You can check how it looks in our application Switch to "By Location" under "VIEW OPTIONS".

answered Feb 2 '10 at 14:32
376 points
  • Hi Sasha, Thanks for your comment - what sort of license fee did you have to pay to use this. I can't find anything in their terms and conditions? – Dr. Phil 14 years ago
  • Hi! Sorry for late response - it's free, you don't have to pay (as for now), but you have to show their attribution. All of the data in OpenStreetMap is licensed for use by the individual contributors under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 License. The terms of the license allow anyone to re-use the data in any way, so long as they give appropriate attribution. This includes the right to re-sell the data, so yes, anyone can make money from OpenStreetMap. – Sasha 14 years ago


You might also want to look at other APIs. Google MAPs is not the only one accessible. I would also say it is not necessarily the best one in many cases. Please check those:

answered Feb 2 '10 at 05:09
Pawel A
191 points


We have had a similar issue with our service. This is what is my understanding of their rules:

According to "Google Maps/Google Earth APIs Terms of Service" ( )

9.1 Free, Public Accessibility to Your Maps API Implementation. Your Maps API Implementation must be generally accessible to users without charge. You may require users to log in to your Maps API Implementation if you do not require users to pay a fee. Unless you have entered into a separate written agreement with Google or obtained Google's written permission, your Maps API Implementation must not: (a) require a fee-based subscription or other fee-based restricted access ; or
(b) operate only behind a firewall or only on an internal network (except during the development and testing phase).

the definition of Maps API Implementation is:

7.1 (c) "Maps API Implementation" means a software application or website that uses the Maps APIs to obtain and display Content in conjunction with Your Content, according to these Terms.

As far as I understand, if any of payable functionality of your service uses Google Maps API, you are violating their rules. I mean, you can use their API only if all functions connected with Google Maps are 100% free. At least that is how we interpret this in our service.

answered Feb 1 '10 at 03:01
Pawel A
191 points

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