Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens


Who owns Scotland? Now without maps!

The owner of the Who Owns Scotland site, which aims to document the ownership of the land in Scotland (durr), gets in touch to tell us about how the Ordnance Survey (sorry, yes, them again) kept switching its position on whether and how or even if he could use its maps on his site.

As this page he outlines his problems:

All Ordnance Survey (OS) digital mapping was removed from this website on 23 February 2007. This was due to the unilateral termination of my contract by OS in October 2005 and my unwillingness to accept the new terms that were being proposed by them due to excessive costs, continuing contractual uncertainty and a breakdown of trust.

The problem arose because depending who he spoke to in OS, he either was allowed or wasn’t allowed to use their maps on his site. Eventually, just as he was trying to decide whether to renew his licence (he was paying, like a good protesting but law-abiding citizen) to use the maps, the OS told him that it had summarily ended the contract about six months earlier.

It was recently established that OS has “no more than sewven lawyers, amounting to 6.2 full-time equivalents”. One feels that they’re spending time undoing each others’ work. Now, if there weren’t any copyright issues…

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