Friday, 2 November 2007

O.S Maps on my blog

When I decided to walk from Land's End to John O'Groats for Sue Ryder Care I decided that the best way to raise awareness of Sue Ryder Care and my walk would be to write a blog about my preparations and actually continue the blog on the walk itself.

Well, in my humble opinion, it all went very well and I raised £6,300 for the charity. I am sure the success of the fund-raising was down to the online blog and the ease of using a 'Just-Giving' website to collect the cash.

I was helped enormously by John Hee - another blogger - who very kindly posted pictures onto my blog that I sent him from the walk by email. This gave the blog visual interest to go with the slightly less interesting content of the text itself.

I would have loved to have been able to post maps of each day's route on the blog as well - this would have added enormously to the enjoyment factor for the hundreds of readers of the blog and might have actually attracted extra fund-raising, but I did not know how to and ran out of time finding out before i had to set off to Cornwall to start my walk.

Well, now the walk is finished and I am getting to the end of editing all my photographs. The blog only showed low resolution images and I took a whole lot more high resolution images on the walk that have not been seen publicly yet.

I aim to preserve the blog as a website - I hope this will just be a 'cut & paste' effort, but I fear it will be a whole lot more complicated than that - to inspire future LEJOGER's to have a crack at the walk itself. This new site will include the high resolution pictures.

This time, I also want to include my 1:50,000 maps on the website with my route drawn on for each day, so that people can actually see the route taken.

However, I think I may have stumbled across a problem. Over on Geoff's marvelous 'Backpacking in Britain' blog I have come across a row that has been going on for a few years between the Ordnance Survey (where the data for my Anquet Maps originated) and webmasters and bloggers. It seems that the O.S. are not too keen (to put it mildly) on people sticking maps on their websites.

My first reaction to this was one of resignation - I supposed they were looking to preserve their profits. However, the more I think about it the more indignant I feel about it.

It comes down to what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ with the O.S situation.

As a normal chap on the top-deck of the Clapham Omnibus, I think it is right that if I buy a product (let’s say digital mapping) then I can use it how I see fit, for personal use. By putting the maps on my personal (not for profit) blog that less than hundred’s read, then I think, as an ordinary chap, that that is fair and reasonable.

If Ordnance Survey think it is not reasonable then the onus is on them to prove otherwise. They surely then have the prerogative to take me to court and prove that what I am doing is not a reasonable thing to do with the product that has been sold to me.

No-where, when I purchased the product, does it say that I cannot stick it on my blog - All the packaging says is ‘for personal or educational use only’. As far as I am concerned they would have to work bloody hard to prove to me, or a judge, that my blog is not for personal pleasure.

I am not a wealthy man - reasonably off perhaps - but it cannot be in the O.S.’s interest to take me to court to get money from me for putting a stupid map on my blog - that would be an outrageous waste of their time and efforts.

Having the route on the blog might even mean that more people read my blog and more money could be raised for Sue Ryder, so would Ordnance Survey still be keen to take a fund-raiser for this worthwhile cause to court?

Well - if anyone can tell me how to load my daily 1:50's with my route onto a website or blog could you let me know?

It’s time we took these idiots at the Ordnance Survey on. As far as I am concerned I will be using my property that I bought and paid for, for my personal use with the aim of raising some more money for Sue Ryder Care.

If anyone over at the Ordnance Survey can help me here I would be very grateful.


  1. Alan,

    I had a similar problem when I came to do my LEJOG site, but avoided the whole OS issue by going with a system that positively encourages you to put your maps on the web - Google Maps (and, by extraction, Google Earth). I digitised my route by hand, which it took ages; I used a hand-built bit of Javascript, but these days you could do a similar job with Google's new 'My Maps' feature, though it's not a job for the fainthearted or the busy.

    If I was doing it again, I'd capture the route as I walked on my trusty GPS and get it into Google Maps from there. However, if your route is hand-drawn on paper maps (as mine was when I finished my walk), then there's no easy way to get it onto a website without either paying for an OS licence, or manually digitising your route and using Google Maps, Multimap or other suitable online mapping services.

    Which is probably not what you want to hear... sorry!


  2. Alan,
    there are always ways to do these things ;)

    It's easier to describe over the phone, so call/txt me when you are awake and I'll describe to you the "many" options.

  3. Would it be possible to use a domain and hosting service that are outside UK jurisdiction? Would the OS have any legal clout outside its copyright coverage. Just a thought.

  4. The OS website has some FAQs, one of which is:

    Q. I am a walker wishing to publish my walks on the internet – what licence would I need?

    A. See the free Get-A-Map service on our web site. This allows you to use up to 10 images on your website. Please read the terms and conditions at:

    If publishing more than 10 images you will not be able to use the Get-a-map service, you will require a Paper Map Copying licence and you will need to purchase the mapping required. If the website contains any sponsorship, advertising or a fee is payable for any downloads please contact us for further advice for the correct licence.

    I'm not sure about your digital imaging, as the copyright will lie initially with the software house that produced it. However, the OS will give you a licence for unlimited copying for £47.50 + VAT, but they offer a discount of 20% for registered charities, so you might get away with that, but I suspect they will want to invoice the charity.

    Give them a call and see wht they say.

  5. Alan - I think VG has some similar interest, and has been folowing it for some time, over on his site?


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