Data License

An important factor regarding the use of satellite images is the license for the data. It is important to understand the limitations, reusability, and distribution restrictions of the data. For open data, like Landsat, MODIS, ASTER and Copernicus , there are little to no restrictions on use. These satellites were launched by national governments and operate quite differently from commercial satellite imagery providers. The data from Landsat is especially useful as it is all free to the public and spans over 40 years of collection. Services such as Google Earth and Open Street Map (OSM) are also free to use under the principles of fair use in U.S. copyright law.

For high-resolution image purchases from companies such as GeoEye, Maxar, Airbus Intelligence and ImageSat International, usage is typically restricted to a project, and only rendered maps are publishable. When purchasing Tracing rights for open platforms are sometimes granted, but license terms vary widely on a user or usage basis. The imagery provider’s terms of service must be honored when using any imagery in a project. Special care must be taken when utilizing imagery from a commercial provider as they only sell data licenses, not the imagery itself.

Satellite Provider Open Data Link to License
Airbus Intelligence No
Maxar No
Copernicus (ESA) Yes
NASA/USGS LandSat 1-3 Yes
Planet Labs No
BlackSky Constellation No
RADARSAT Constellation No