Monday, 26 November 2007

Ordnance Survey: Confirmation Telephone call

I spoke to the charming lady Senior Service Advisor at Ordnance Survey's Customer Service Centre this afternoon.

I had quite a long discussion with her and she has confirmed that in order to display my route at 1:50,000 on my blog or website I would indeed have to print all the maps out again from my Anquet Maps digital mapping software product and then scan them to make digital copies before posting onto the blog or website. I would need to purchase the PMCL (Paper Map Copying License) for £47.50 plus vat and also get permission from Anquet to do all this.

I explained that to do all this printing and scanning this would take me months of my spare time and then additional time to actually load it all onto my website or blog. And this doesn't take into account getting the necessary permissions from Anquet. By the time I will have completed these tasks there would not be many months of the 12 month licence left to run. She confirmed that if I did not take out the PMCL before the end of this year then I would not be allowed, full stop, to put any maps at all on to my blog / website.

I went through with her that this was all for a charitable cause and that there was no way the O.S. could possibly lose any sales by me posting my maps on the internet. I also reiterated that I would not be making any money from the venture either. In fact, I hypothesised, Ordnance Survey could actually benefit from the increased exposure of the digital mapping system on my blog.

She confirmed to me that Ordnance Survey required me to do exactly as I have described. She had garnered this information by asking all the relevant people within her organisation and so was sure that this was the correct situation.

I had let her know in my original email to her that Chris Corbin at the ePSIplus Thematic Network had taken an interest in this case and that he had advised me to complain.

She very kindly told me how to complain by email and who to (The Complaints Team at Ordnance Survey) and she let me know that they would then give themselves ten working days to answer my complaint.

She was a very sympathetic listener and so I asked her to let me know what the situation would be if I was to publish the digital maps on my website anyway, without gaining the permissions. Would Ordnance Survey be prepared to take steps against a private individual, perhaps even to take him to court, who was trying to increase awareness for a charity? Would they take to court a chap who had taken four months to walk for the charity?

She said she would telephone me tomorrow afternoon on that one and I told her that I would be writing this up on the blog.

So now we understand each other:

Ordnance Survey will not allow me to publish my digital maps on my personal blog and I feel that that is absolutely outrageous behaviour on their part.

I shall comply with the Ordnance Survey's complaints procedure to see if they have a change of heart.


  1. Hey, Alan, off-piste, but you might want to look at my new blog

  2. Just a thought Alan, when you next get her on the phone. If you take a photograph of the map page, rather than a scan, the copyright of the photograph belongs to you.

    The content of the photograph, is not being transferred via the medium set up using the license they mention I think, and therefore it is out of their remit? (Ie not as 100% faithful representation of the original) Possibly?

    So if you lay a piece of thread along the route you took and the image was clearly a photographic image, rather than a scan, they can't stop you using it? As I think I understand it, only the image of the Queen (your chum remember?) and sterling notes cannot be replicated in this way.

    Just a curious one to chuck in the mix.

    Anyway, there is an argument that we as tax payers have already paid to have this material gathered and therefore, we own it in part anyway. Therefore why should we have to pay to display, however we see fit?

    There's someone at the Guardian running some kind of 'free our information' campaign I seem to remember. Maybe they would be interested in your predicament?

  3. Hi Bob

    Excuse the tardiness of my reply - shocking!

    I hear waht you say about taking photos and the like - I am not sure about the legality of it but really I am not willing to have to jump through hoops in order to get around what is in effect the O.s.'s rules that are limiting my enjoyment of the products I have purchased for my personal use.

    The only real way round all this is to get the O.S. to change their untenable position. That is going to take time, but hey, if it does, so be it. This needs sorting out. There are other bloggers out there who are facing the same problems and so it is time something was done about it.

    With the help of the ePSIplus thematic network putting on the pressure (they are funded by the E.U) we may, just may get somewhere. If we don't then it may need a court case to sort it out.

    I have been in touch with the Guardian (via their dedicated website) but will shortly be speaking with the chap who is running the cmapaign to 'free our data'

    I will let everyone know how I get on on the blog.

    Cheers Bob - appreciate your help,



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