/ NEWS: OS Map Data Released - Useless For Climbers?

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UKC News - on 20 Apr 2010
[Winter navigation on Scafell, 2 kb]The Ordnance Survey "Open Data" initiative is a government scheme releasing OS map data to the public that went ahead on the 1st of April this year.

The final announcement stopped short of what had been expected. The 1:10,000 Street view map is useless once you get away from towns and cities...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=52894

ebygomm - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to UKC News:

Vectormap District will be released at the end of next week.

The sample data they've provided is all urban based though so it's hard to tell what info it contains.

There's definitely not going to be field boundaries and rights of way. But if the derived data issue gets sorted out then Local Authorities would potentially be able to release their definitive maps for re-use.

Wiley Coyote - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to UKC News:

The cheap(er) way to use OS maps as base material for re-drawn maps for other publications is to make sure you work from an out of copyright version of the OS map. This does away with the need to buy a licence. The maps are decades out of date but mountains and crags tend not to move very far so it should not be too much of a problem and can be brought up to date by your own observations. It is, however, getting harder to find the older maps now as more people cotton on to their value.

Playing Devil's Advocate, it's expensive to produce maps so not surprisingly all mapmakers, including the OS, will seek to protect their intellectual property and their investment. After all, how would the guiebook publishers react if someone printed off a few thousand copies of their material?
ebygomm - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to Wiley Coyote: you can find out of copyright maps in an electronic format at http://www.npemap.org.uk the site http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm also allows you to toggle between current and 1940s mapping
Beaker - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to UKC News:

“It was a ridiculous situation, as if the OS had copyrighted the countryside, made even more galling by the fact that our taxes had paid for the collection of this data in the first place.”

False. OS is completely self-funding. Taxes do not pay for any activity that OS does. Selling data and maps gave OS a turnover just shy of £120mil:

http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/aboutus/reports/annualreport/08-09/docs/financial-review.p...

ebygomm - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to Beaker: fifty million comes from the public sector so taxes do pay for some of it, albeit indirectly
Beaker - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to ebygomm:

Interesting... So because public sector organisations buy mapping data from OS, that counts as government funding? Even though if OS didn't exist they'd have to buy it from elsewhere?

Does that mean that all the drug manufacturers that sell drugs to the NHS are government funded too? Should we demand free drugs from them, perhaps? ;)
In reply to Beaker:
> “It was a ridiculous situation, as if the OS had copyrighted the countryside, made even more galling by the fact that our taxes had paid for the collection of this data in the first place.”
>
> False. OS is completely self-funding. Taxes do not pay for any activity that OS does. Selling data and maps gave OS a turnover just shy of £120mil:

They don't now, but historically they did since all the contour work was done early last century. I will change it to say 'some' of this data.

Alan
chiragshah5001 - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to UKC News:

Guys you can get os maps for free or atleast see all the detail/press print screen and copy into word/paint and print. You simply just go to www.mulitmap.co.uk
3leggeddog on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to UKC News:

A poorly researched and poorly thought out article, a collection of sour grapes. If I used a rockfax guidebook as a base to write my own from, rockfax/ukc towers would be rightly peeved
Marek - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to Beaker:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> “It was a ridiculous situation, as if the OS had copyrighted the countryside, made even more galling by the fact that our taxes had paid for the collection of this data in the first place.”
>

To be more precise: The OS has a copyright on the "presentation" of the geographical data (in the form of the OS maps), not on the underlying information. It's analogous to a maths textbook - the copyright owner (usually the publisher) has copyright on the specific presentation in the book of the equations and proofs, but not on the equations and proofs themselves. Anyone can read the book and publish the equations in their own presentation. Similarly, you should be able to look at an OS map and then from the knowledge gained, create your own map to which you have copyright, as long as you don't use any of the OS's creative input. The difficulty is that the OS blurs the line between the raw data (geography, no copyright) and their creative input (styles, symbols, under copyright) by fictionalising certain aspects of maps which makes it tricky to separate them without validating the data.

As for the licensing cost of the data - think of it as a very hypothecated form of VAT and it no longer looks that different from many other government services.
In reply to 3leggeddog:
> If I used a rockfax guidebook as a base to write my own from, rockfax/ukc towers would be rightly peeved

Actually if you DIDN'T use a Rockfax guidebook then I'd be peeved. Perhaps 'peeved' isn't the correct word, I'd be amazed that you hadn't used all available reference material.

Rockfax makes no claim on the copyright of the route names, grades, lines and descriptions; it is just our presentation of this information that you pay for when buying a Rockfax guidebook, the rest is free and not ours to sell.

Alan
Beaker - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
>
> Rockfax makes no claim on the copyright of the route names, grades, lines and descriptions; it is just our presentation of this information that you pay for when buying a Rockfax guidebook, the rest is free and not ours to sell.
>

OS doesn't make a claim to the copyright of location names, the shape of the landscape or the altitude of a specific location - just like Rockfax, "it is just [the] presentation of this information that you pay for" when you buy an OS map...

Marek - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to Marek:
> (In reply to Beaker)
> [...]
>
> To be more precise: The OS has a copyright on the "presentation" of the geographical data (in the form of the OS maps), not on the underlying information. It's analogous to a maths textbook...

Yes, I could have used climbing guides as another analogy, but I didn't want to open up that can of worms!
ebygomm - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to Beaker:

You might want to look at OS terms on derived data if you think they don't make claim to anything but the presentation.
Flashy - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to 3leggeddog:
> If I used a rockfax guidebook as a base to write my own from, rockfax/ukc towers would be rightly peeved

An argument that has been levelled at Rockfax by other guidebook writers in the past if I remember correctly. Was it a Spanish guidebook?

In reply to Flashy:
> An argument that has been levelled at Rockfax by other guidebook writers in the past if I remember correctly. Was it a Spanish guidebook?

No. See my reply above.

Alan
Marek - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to ebygomm:
> (In reply to Beaker)
>
> You might want to look at OS terms on derived data if you think they don't make claim to anything but the presentation.

I think you were replying to me?

By "data" I referred to the actual geographical reality on the ground, not whatever is stored in their database. For instance, they do not have a copyright on the shape of my house, but they do have a copyright on their representation of that shape in their database and in their presentation of it. I could take that shape off their map (eg., trace it) and use it elsewhere. The danger is that they have purposely modified that shape (a creative process with copyright) and then I would be using their copyrighted shape not the shape of my house (to which they don't own the copyright). We often make this assumption of accuracy about OS maps and this is the basis of their protection. You can't be sure what you can copy and what you can't.
franksnb - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to UKC News: well I am genuinely pissed off, I wanted free maps.
ebygomm - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to Marek:

It's not as simple as that.

OS lays claim to any data that is created using Ordnance Survey base data.
"For example, if you capture a polygon or a point or any other feature using any Ordnance Survey data, either in its data form or as a background context to the polygon/point/other feature capture, this would constitute derived data."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2008/nov/12/ordnance-survey-google-maps-copyright

It's not about the shape of your house, or the presentation of the data it's about the method you use to create data. It's subject to OS copyright if OS data has been used at any stage of the process.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Flashy - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> (In reply to Flashy)
> [...]
>
> No.

No, there was no criticism? I thought in this particular case it was something along the lines of the bolting being paid for by sale of local topos.

> See my reply above.

Yeah, I know that's Rockfax's position and that's fine. The more general criticism of 'theft' of information has been raised in the past and isn't really what I was referring to, though I'm sure it was an important debate at the time.
Marek - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to ebygomm:
> (In reply to Marek)
>
> It's not as simple as that.
>
> <SNIP>
>
> It's not about the shape of your house, or the presentation of the data it's about the method you use to create data. It's subject to OS copyright if OS data has been used at any stage of the process.

Two different things - copyright law and the OS license agreement. Copyright law says nothing about "method", it is only concerned about the creative content. The OS do not make law. They do however make licence agreements and they can put whatever they like in those, eg., restrictions on "method". If I have signed a license agreement with them then I may be in breach of contract, but I haven't necessarily broken copyright law. If I buy a map, I don't sign a license agreement, so that isn't an issue, but I still have to be careful not to use their creative content.

A simpler example: on an OS map my house is shown between a 190m and a 200m contour. From the map I surmise that my house is at 195m plus-or-minus 5m. I can publish that information on my website. UNLESS the OS miss-labelled the contours and it's really at 205m plus-or-minus 5m. Then I would be reproducing their "creative content" rather than reality and I would be in breach of copyright law.
DWilliamson - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to ebygomm:

I don't completely understand the criticisms in the Guardian article. The only way it makes sense to me is if the ONLY current source of information used by the government about postcodes, county boundaries etc. in the UK is Ordnance Survey (or derived from OS). Is this the case?
Marek - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to Marek:
> (In reply to ebygomm)
> [...]
>
> <SNIP>
>
> A simpler example: on an OS map my house is shown between a 190m and a 200m contour. From the map I surmise that my house is at 195m plus-or-minus 5m. I can publish that information on my website. UNLESS the OS miss-labelled the contours and it's really at 205m plus-or-minus 5m. Then I would be reproducing their "creative content" rather than reality and I would be in breach of copyright law.

... Although oddly I could reproduce their "creative" 195m as long as it was to winge about how inaccurate or devious they were. That would then come under "fair use" since it would be critisism of their creative work.
ebygomm - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to DWilliamson:

Postcodes are restricted by PAF licensing rather than OS.

A huge number of government datasets that have some sort of location element within them will be restricted under derived data rules. OS claims IPR on data which is derived using an OS map as a reference, even if the data does not appear on the OS map in the first place. OS then says that if you stop paying its annual licence fee then you must delete all its derived data and recreate it from scratch effectively locking them in to the supplier (OS)

The Boundary Commission cannot supply its boundaries to the private mapping sector because they are drawn on top of OS Maps and are therefore considered to contain OS copyright.




Marek - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to ebygomm:
> (In reply to DWilliamson)
>
> Postcodes are restricted by PAF licensing rather than OS.
>
> A huge number of government datasets that have some sort of location element within them will be restricted under derived data rules. OS claims IPR on data which is derived using an OS map as a reference, even if the data does not appear on the OS map in the first place. OS then says that if you stop paying its annual licence fee then you must delete all its derived data and recreate it from scratch effectively locking them in to the supplier (OS)
>
> The Boundary Commission cannot supply its boundaries to the private mapping sector because they are drawn on top of OS Maps and are therefore considered to contain OS copyright.

It would be great to see this tested in court. Copyright law is clear: you cannot copyright "facts", only "creative works". The OS is however a big elephant in a small room. And with a bigger brother just outside.

In reply to Flashy:
> No, there was no criticism? I thought in this particular case it was something along the lines of the bolting being paid for by sale of local topos.

Well I think that is a completely different issue I think. Also, I would be unable to pin-point a precise occurrence of the particular complaint you quote, it was more of a general grumble from a few people in a couple of the Spanish areas we cover.

But let's not get into that...!

Alan

In reply to Beaker:
> OS doesn't make a claim to the copyright of location names, the shape of the landscape or the altitude of a specific location - just like Rockfax, "it is just [the] presentation of this information that you pay for" when you buy an OS map...

My understanding of the situation is that you are not correct in this statement and they actually do claim more than the 'presentation'.

Here is an illustration of the problem I faced. I had a licence from one map company to use their maps as reference works for our maps. Occasionally these weren't detailed enough to cover the maps we wanted so I would use the licensed map to create an accurate relative view of the area covered - contours, roads, streams, etc. - and then make a much bigger version. On this I could then add extra observed detail. This is a perfectly legit way to create a map, in fact it is often essential since no map from anyone contains all the info you need on a crag approach map to many crags. The irony of this was that the more accurate I got this detail, the more likely I was to get the OS tapping on my shoulder. That was my complaint with the 'derived data' restriction, it seemed to be upside down logic.

I realise that this is a complex issue, as several people have pointed out on this thread and by email, and that the article probably doesn't do justice to this complexity, however I do feel that this thread is developing into a good discussion with some knowledgeable individuals putting forward good points.

Alan
Marek - on 20 Apr 2010
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
>
>
> Here is an illustration of the problem I faced. I had a licence from one map company to use their maps as reference works for our maps. Occasionally these weren't detailed enough to cover the maps we wanted so I would use the licensed map to create an accurate relative view of the area covered - contours, roads, streams, etc. - and then make a much bigger version. On this I could then add extra observed detail. This is a perfectly legit way to create a map, in fact it is often essential since no map from anyone contains all the info you need on a crag approach map to many crags. The irony of this was that the more accurate I got this detail, the more likely I was to get the OS tapping on my shoulder. That was my complaint with the 'derived data' restriction, it seemed to be upside down logic.
>

Since you apparently did your own surveying on top of another vendor's licensed map, it's hard to see how the OS could have a case. Not in contract law and not in copyright law. Otherwise people like Harveys and whoever it is that publishes orienteering maps would have a difficult time. I wonder how they deal with this? Anyway, I understand why you are cautious. I probably would be in your position. You can't afford to argue with the "big elephant" even if you know you're right.
Simon Caldwell - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to Marek:
It's not that long since the OS contacted people with maps on their websites threatening them with court action if they didn't remove them. Not just people who'd scanned OS maps - they also threatened anyone who had drawn a map free-hand but with sufficient accuracy that the OS decided they must have been looking at an OS map while they did so!
highclimber - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to franksnb: even if they released the maps you wanted you would still be paying for them inpart due to the tresury funding the release of said data to subsidise the loss of revenue.

from the Guardian:

"The new arrangements are expected to cost about £20m in forgone revenues – which the government anticipates will be made up through increased tax revenues. The Treasury has agreed to fund the difference."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/apr/01/ordnance-survey-maps-download-free
Marek - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to Marek)
> It's not that long since the OS contacted people with maps on their websites threatening them with court action if they didn't remove them. Not just people who'd scanned OS maps - they also threatened anyone who had drawn a map free-hand but with sufficient accuracy that the OS decided they must have been looking at an OS map while they did so!

Crazy! Seems like the OS is (was?) trying to get into the same bucket as the RIAA/MPAA/BPI etc. Given the Digital Economy Act, does that now mean that the OS will be telling ISPs to disconnect anyone with some sort of map on their website?
Beaker - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Doesn't OS have a right to check that you're not using their data to produce your map? And surely you can simply inform them of the original source, changes you made, and additional data you added in, thus showing you didn't use their maps as a base?

Did you ever actually get OS "tapping on your shoulder" or are you just scaremongering? ;)
Simon Caldwell - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to Beaker:
> Did you ever actually get OS "tapping on your shoulder"

I didn't, but I know of someone who did.
johncoxmysteriously - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to 3leggeddog:

> If I used a rockfax guidebook as a base to write my own from, rockfax/ukc towers would be rightly peeved

Hah!

jcm
Beaker - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to Toreador:

And what happened?
Simon Caldwell - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to Beaker:
He removed the map from his site. I think he replaced it with a link to the Harveys site :)
In reply to Beaker:
> Doesn't OS have a right to check that you're not using their data to produce your map? And surely you can simply inform them of the original source, changes you made, and additional data you added in, thus showing you didn't use their maps as a base?

Yes, they did have the right, and yes I could just inform them of my method.

I do know people who had tussles with the OS. We never did but I hate to think how much work it would have been to prove that all our maps were done from legit sources. Probably impossible for me to prove actually.

> Did you ever actually get OS "tapping on your shoulder" or are you just scaremongering? ;)

I got the UK Hydrographic Office tapping on my shoulder. They forced us to withdraw a really useful tide predictor program that could give tide information for any chosen period for months ahead, to all the important UK climbing sea cliff locations. It had been tailored specifically for climbers' needs and didn't have all the tides climbers' aren't interested in. I was given the option to buy a licence to supply the data but it would have meant completely re-writing my program and I could only get the information for two days in advance. It was a useless alternative option.

Alan
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> Hah!
>
> jcm

Did you read my reply John?

Alan
johncoxmysteriously - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

No, but then I've read it before!

jcm
ads.ukclimbing.com
Beaker - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> Probably impossible for me to prove actually.

Really? Because generally speaking, if you can show your process and source data, that stands up pretty well. You should only have a problem if you can't demonstrate how you got the end product without using their process. It's like a maths exam - you gotta show your working! :)

> I got the UK Hydrographic Office tapping on my shoulder.

Which has nothing to do with OS :)
luke@grough on 21 Apr 2010 - cpc6-newc8-0-0-cust46.gate.cable.virginmedia.com
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> I do know people who had tussles with the OS. We never did but I hate to think how much work it would have been to prove that all our maps were done from legit sources. Probably impossible for me to prove actually.
>
> Alan

On the subject of derived data, I had a meeting with Ordnance Survey last week - the derived data issues are far, far from being sorted.

The whole affair is now more convoluted and obscure than ever before, judging from some of the things that were said. There's no timescale set for sorting it.

As someone at one of the companies using OS data to help get people out on the hills and active, it's soul-destroying trying to deal with the masses of paperwork and restrictions on how we can use the data.

Luke @ grough.co.uk
In reply to Beaker:
> Really? Because generally speaking, if you can show your process and source data, that stands up pretty well. You should only have a problem if you can't demonstrate how you got the end product without using their process. It's like a maths exam - you gotta show your working! :)

I have no idea exactly how I produced maps for the guidebooks I wrote in 1992 and would certainly struggle to prove the precise technique.

>
> [...]
>
> Which has nothing to do with OS :)

.. but very connected to the whole 'Free our Data' issue.

Alan
Beaker - on 21 Apr 2010
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> I have no idea exactly how I produced maps for the guidebooks I wrote in 1992 and would certainly struggle to prove the precise technique.
>

No offense, but you can't blame OS or crown copyright law for your failure to properly document your processes.
smithaldo - on 24 Apr 2010
In reply to UKC News: Alan , there was an open letter vehemently criticising the English guidebook not funding equipment published in on the edge from the local Spanish climbers. I know this as I read it in a foundry copy in the cafe the other week.

People in glass houses .................
In reply to smithaldo:
> (In reply to UKC News) Alan , there was an open letter vehemently criticising the English guidebook not funding equipment published in on the edge from the local Spanish climbers. I know this as I read it in a foundry copy in the cafe the other week.

We were discussing using existing information as reference material for basing your books as a criticism, not contributions to bolts funds which is a totally different debate.

There have actually been several letters criticising Rockfax in magazines, and even more on this web site if you do a search. I believe the letter you refer to is either link to or appears on UKC.

Alan
Al Evans on 25 Apr 2010
In reply to Wiley Coyote:
> (In reply to UKC News)
After all, how would the guiebook publishers react if someone printed off a few thousand copies of their material?

People do print off guidebook publishers info to produce their own guides.
Dave Stephens - on 27 Apr 2010
The basic OS free datasets are pretty useless in their current formats, but we are a map making company and have been working on creating 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 using a combination of OS free data and other datasets.
We are hoping to be able to provide a set of mapping that publishers or outdoor enthusiasts can use for free.
DundeeDave - on 22 May 2010
In reply to Dave Stephens: I managed to make what might be a half usable 1:50,000 map from OS opendata. I attempted to upload a couple of sample jpg's to this site for discussion but no sign of them yet - perhaps they've been moderated out of existence?

Question for UKC moderators: Which gallery should I put them in? (I tried landscape as that seemed the most appropriate)
DundeeDave - on 24 May 2010
In reply to UKC News: Cool, they've appeared.

I've mixed OS Vectormap District with Landform Panorama contours to get the following:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=144905
http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=144904

Ok the cartography needs work and it's never going to be as good as the Landranger series, for instance footpaths and tracks aren't shown, but would it be of any use on the hills?

Tom_Harding - on 24 May 2010
In reply to DundeeDave: Looks ok. To be hoanest though it needs break lines, escarpents and crags etc to be much use. It would be ok for anywhere that doesent have challenging terrain. Part of the problem is that panorama is absoultly appauling. The accuracies are awfull and the postings are not dense enough for walking use. If its for personnal use you would be far better stealing some landranger.
ebygomm - on 24 May 2010
In reply to Tom_Harding:
> Part of the problem is that panorama is absoultly appauling. The accuracies are awfull and the postings are not dense enough for walking use. If its for personnal use you would be far better stealing some landranger.

The intermap data I've looked at is more or less identical to the contours shown on the 50k mapping (at that sort of scale). I know a lot of people prefer 25k for walking but I'm sure they wouldn't go as far as saying 50k was useless
Tom_Harding - on 24 May 2010
In reply to ebygomm: By intermap do you mean NextMap? Did you looks at NM1 or NM2. NM 1 is pretty awfull as well but a big improvment over panorama. I work for a GIS data supplier and we sell about £10 or panorama a month but thousands of pounds of nextmap.

I think the land features are the main issue though, without them the its much harder to read the land.
ebygomm - on 24 May 2010
In reply to Tom_Harding:

Sorry, typed the wrong thing, read Panorama for intermap
DundeeDave - on 24 May 2010
In reply to Tom_Harding: Vector map district does include some landform features, crags etc. They appear to have been taken from those used on 1:25000 series. They are evident on the sample map I posted, but probably not brilliantly rendered!

ebygomm - on 24 May 2010
In reply to DundeeDave:

Have you just used Vectormap District and Panorama?

This was produced in the same way

http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e110/ebygomm/Opendata.jpg

DundeeDave - on 24 May 2010
In reply to ebygomm: Yep. That looks similar to mine, colours more reminiscent of the Landranger series. (And I highlighted and labelled the x100m contours)

So, would you head to the hills equipped only with this?
ebygomm - on 24 May 2010
In reply to DundeeDave: no I probably wouldn't but mainly because I have most areas at 50k. I think it could still have uses for route illustration or as base mapping for a gps unit
DundeeDave - on 24 May 2010
In reply to ebygomm: Two very good uses. I guess also you could print out an A4 map with your route centred on it, scribble notes on it if needed. Maybe even laminate it and use that as your first reference map on the hill?

Might be easier to work with than the traditional OS sheets which seem designed to have as many munroes as possible on fold lines :) You can keep your OS sheet tucked away in your rucksack for when you really need it.

Anyway's happy map-making.

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