Does the Ordnance Survey own all UK maps? - No!

Having mapped my town I wanted to put a small piece in my local newspaper to draw attention to OSM, recruit some new mappers and perhaps get hold of some aerial photos. It was basically a short piece of text and a screenshot of the map of the town.

The publisher has refused to print it as he says that the Ordnance Survey claim that anything that looks like a map belongs to them. If it were straight lines and blobs then that would be ok, but anything to scale that resembles something that could have come from one of their maps belongs to them.

Is this true? Has anyone else experienced this and does OSM have a disclaimer from the Ordnance Survey? He won’t publish without one!


Not true at all.

Try again and remind them we are a completely “clean room” from scratch project. Nothing is derived from Ordnance Survey copyrighted sources. If they still do not agree, ask them if they have been specifically advised about OpenStreetMap.

Lots of guys happy to help on

Yeah it’s kind of the whole point of the OpenStreetMap project (in the UK at least) Up until now it has been true that anything resembling a decent detailed map must have been derived from Ordnance Survey. This was always the frustration with maps in the UK… until OpenStreetMap came along. We create our maps from scratch, or using copyright-free sources so that we can release the maps with an open content license.

When you publish OpenStreetMap maps Ordnance Survey is not involved. Provided the publisher mentions OpenStreetMap (which they are required to do under the terms of our license) then ordnance survey have nothing to complain about.

This is something publishers should be aware of. Now you can publish a decent* maps. Hurray!

(* in areas where we have achieved a decent level of completion)

I tried telling him all this. His point was that anything that was “map-like” automatically fell under them. It’s proof of his misconception that I’m after.

Would the fact that the magazine Waterways World is about to use an OSM map in a forthcoming issue help (at least when it gets to print)?

To wrap this one up, I emailed Ordnance Survey to confirm one way or the other.

They confirmed that they do not have any intellectual property rights over maps that have been produced without any reference to their mapping.

Here’s the email. If anyone has similar problems and needs further proof then let me know and I’ll send you the non-redacted version.