Friday, 23 November 2007

Ordnance Survey: A not very satisfactory reply

Ordnance Survey have come up trumps and have replied to me this afternoon. That is a full three working days before their own deadline.

Below is their complete reply to me: (Minus the name of the respondent & her contact details)

"Dear Mr Sloman

Thank you for your enquiry.

Based on the information you have provided in your email you could use 1:50 000 scale mapping on your website under the display and promotion part of our current Paper Map Copying Licence (PMCL).

In your email you mention that you would like to use the 1:50 000 scale mapping from Anquet on your website. The Anquet product is licensed for your personal use only, it will not extend to use on a website. However, subject to you obtaining separate permission from Anquet, our PMCL will cover scanned copies of the Anquet product on your website.

We should let you know that the PMCL has recently undergone an internal review. It was originally created a number of years ago and the intention behind the display and promotion rights was only to permit some very limited uses, such as a business showing their location to customers. With time, we understand that these rights could be interpreted more widely than was intended and overlap with other ways in which we allow the use our mapping on the internet.

Our current Paper Map Copying Licence will be available until 31 December 2007. Should you choose to take out our PMCL, it will remain valid under those terms for 12 months.

The revised PMCL will be available from the 1 January 2008 and this would not permit the use of 1:50 000 scale mapping on your website as you describe in your email. However, due to the continually growing uses to which our data are put, we are also reviewing some of our other licences which allow use of our mapping on the internet. Once the outcome of the review is known, we will inform you of any changes.

I hope this information is of use to you. If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Senior Service Advisor
Customer Service Centre, Ordnance Survey"

So - Being a simple sort of chap, I understand this to mean that I need to fork out almost £50 for a year's license before the end of this year so that I can scan paper maps I have created with my own digital mapping. And (and I know you should not start a sentence with 'and') this depends on Anquet giving me permission to do so. (I wonder how long that will take?)

If I don't purchase this license before the end of the year (and there is only about a month left of this year), then I will not be able to put 1:50,000 maps on my blog / website at all.

I shall telephone my 'Senior Service Advisor' on Monday (I have the contact details in her email to me) to see if I have understood this position correctly. I think it would have been nice if she had told me this rather than referring me to a website that is quite confusing for an ordinary not very technical chap like myself, where I have to work out myself how much I think it should cost.

The very idea that I should scan paper print-outs of digital mapping in order to make a digital map on a website is quite frankly bizarre! In fact it illustrates just how ridiculous and untenable Ordnance Survey's position is.

I do not think I will be able to take up their very generous offer of purchasing the Paper License as I will not have the time between now and the New Year to prepare the maps for the blog, so, as things appear to stand at the moment, it appears that Ordnance Survey are in effect forbidding me to display the route that I took on my 'Big Walk' using the maps that I purchased.

I think this is a pretty poor show and if on Monday, when I talk to Ordnance Survey on the telephone to see if I have understood this correctly, and it appears to be the case, then I will definitely be complaining to the OPSI (the Office for Public Sector Information).

I reiterate, that by posting my maps on my website, Ordnance Survey will not be suffering any financial loss. I will not be making any financial gain.

I am a reasonable man. I think that if this is in fact the case then I should publish my maps anyway and see if Ordnance Survey want to take it further.


  1. Alan,
    the OS girl must really love you look at all the kisses she put on her reply!!!! ^__^

  2. What a bunch of tossers - the whole thing is bloody ridiculous.

    Any reasonable person would think that provided they have legitimately purchased the map / mapping software (as you have) they should be able to use said maps and software for ANY non-commercial application.

    The lunatics have taken over the asylum.


  3. Just go for it Alan. They are bound to state their interpretation of their rules and the law as they see it but are probably unlikely to enforce them in the case of minor infringements.

  4. As expected, it was a pretty poor reply from the OS.

    Maybe we need to start a petition...

    Of course, I can't let you just publish my comment on your blog without you having to lump through fiery hoops beforehand. I insist, for no good reason except that I hold the copyright, that you copy it out onto papyrus, using a quill pen from a wild ostrich, and your best handwriting, then scan it and finally upload it. You will, of course, have to buy from me a Paper Comment Copying Licence (PCCL) for the princely sum of one arm and one leg. Said Licence will last for one year but will expire in one month.

    PayPal accepted.

  5. Ooops...

    For "lump" read "jump".


  6. Dear Alan,
    I am very interested in the warmlite tent construction. At the moment I am busy with repairing my own Salewa tent and would like to see wheter I can optimize that old construction. Would you be willing to send me some more detailed pictures of your warmlite? I am especially interested in how the poles are fitting in the tent construction. Are there any sleeves how are the poles prevented from dropping out the sleeve?... I would really appreciate if you could give me some more information and pictures.


    ps: my email is


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