Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Ordnance Survey: Service Delivery Manager's response.

On my return to home this afternoon I have received an email from Ordnance Survey's Service Delivery Manager.

As always, O.S's response is very polite; courteous, even. However it is deeply disappointing: Here it is, unedited, below (apart from the chap's name & contact details)

"Dear Mr Sloman

You asked what the situation would be if people publish our mapping on a website without permission.

Like any business, we have an obligation to protect our intellectual property and so reserve the right to take action against any infringements. Particularly in our case, we are required to ensure there is fairness in the way we licence our data to ALL licensees, even where it appears to be not for commercial use. Partners pay us to licence information for many different purposes and we have to honour our obligations under those agreements. If you were to put our mapping, directly or through a partner, on a website without a licence then it would be an infringement.

We recognise the situation you are in and have attempted to come to a solution based on our current licensing rules. As previously discussed, if you were to take out our paper map copying licence by 31st December then it would be possible for you to take prints from your Partner Product, scan them and post them on the internet. You have told us that this would be a time-consuming task for you, and so here are two other options:-

1. Illustrate your walk by using information from our new outdoor exploration portal, explore – The portal allows users to create walking routes at up to 1: 50 000 scale and share them with others. You can upload photographs, highlight points of interest, add waymarkers and cut and paste text into the route description. You can link to individual explore routes from your website. Here is an example of what we mean at 1: 250 000 - and at 1: 50 000 -

We think this would take you a few hours depending on how much detail you want to include but is completely free of charge and designed to be very easy to use.

2. Another option is to use the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service to illustrate up to ten highlights of your route at up to 1: 25 000 scale. Again this is completely free of charge provided you are happy to give the relevant acknowledgement alongside each extract, as explained here - .

You can of course combine these options, perhaps having ten extracts on the blog itself and linking to the full route hosted on the explore portal.

As discussed, we will take into account all the comments you have made to inform our review of licensing that is planned for 2008.

We hope that the additional options above will mean that we can find a way forward that meets your needs. If you need any advice or guidance on either the explore portal or Get-a-map service, please feel free to contact us.


Service Delivery Manager
Customer Service Centre, Ordnance Survey"

Well, I would like to go through this point-by-point to show just how ridiculous their very polite position is:

Fairness: They say it 'appears to be not for commercial use' : It plainly is not. I have stressed this to them more than once.

' would be an infringement': Patently a nonsense. This is only a technical infringement as the rules are drafted poorly and therefore are catching people they were not originally intended for.

'we..... have attempted to come to a solution based on our current licensing rules' ; That's very sweet of them but after the end of this year these rules are going to change to disbar anyone from posting images of their mapping other than the ten allowable images under their 'Get-a-map' service.

Point 1) suggests that the Ordnance Survey are being helpful to my cause in allowing me to link to their site, where I can show my daily routes. This really is crass! Who in the world is going to keep clicking onto a link to see a map of my route on their website, (incidentally, where I have no control of the copyrite or how Ordnance Survey use my work?) People want to read the account alongside the map so they can enjoy the route and account together and not have to keep clicking back and forth between websites.

Who will actually want to see maps at 1:50,000 where they can only see 4,200m of my daily route of (and this is an average) of 17,000m of walking. This is like inspecting a house you are thinking of buying by looking through the letter box! They think that this will only take me a few hours to plot onto their site. With over 175,000 waypoints when I plotted it onto Anquet I respectfully suggest they they are a factor of 100 out here in their estimate! - ie (for the numerically challenged at Ordnance Survey), that is 200 hours of plotting)

Their 'Point 2' suggests that I could also incorporate O.S.'s 'Get-a-map' service to allow me to include up to ten highlights of my route. A kind offer indeed, but one which actually shows a square of mapping only 4,000m in length, smaller than their first offering.

They round off saying they will 'take into account all the comments I have made to inform our review of licensing that is planned for 2008'

Am I impressed by that?

I wonder what you think....

You will remember that I had asked on the telephone quite clearly, and made sure I was understood, what the Ordnance Survey were likely to do should I decide to publish my digital maps on my blog / website without all these permissions that they deem necessary and that I deem to be ridiculous and unnecessary as the O.S were not going to suffer any financial loss at all. They have not answered that question at all clearly. They have simply stated that what I would be doing would be 'an infringement.'

Well, tomorrow I shall call the 'Service Delivery Manager' to find out the answer to that question. Let's hope he can enlighten me with an accurate answer.

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