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OS changes OpenSpace licensing terms in developers’ favour: commercial use now allowed

Just after our previous post, we find a press release from Ordnance Survey in our inbox:

Ordnance Survey has today unveiled revised terms and conditions for OS OpenSpace, its non-commercial web mapping service.

The OS OpenSpace API (application programming interface) is a freeservice that allows users to build mash-ups of Ordnance Survey mapping. It was launched to the public in January this year and to date has over a thousand registered developers.

(You might note that one thousand isn’t actually a lot of developers in this web day and age.)

The changes to the terms of use reflect the fact the components of the API are now available as a free open-source download – as OSGB Web Map Tools. Available from, the tools allow Ordnance Survey data licensees to build commercial applications for the Web.

At the same time as amending the OS OpenSpace terms in relation to OSGB Web Map Tools, Ordnance Survey has taken the opportunity to make some further changes that aim to provide greater overall clarity.

“Clarity” is one of those words that companies use either when they’ve been caught out doing something wrong, or when they’ve been forced to change something but want to make it look like it was their idea. Wonder which this was?

Key amongst the revisions is the introduction of new definitions of ‘Your Data’ and ‘End User’s Data’ to complement what is already defined as ‘Derived Data’. It is intended that the changes will clarify the position on ownership of each of these types of data, and will set out in clearer terms the various licences that are granted in relation to each of them.

Well, let’s see now…

Unlike OS OpenSpace, the recently launched OSGB Web Map Tools is released under a permissive free licence and does not restrict licensed developers to non-commercial activities or the use of any particular data source. [Emphasis added]

But then again it’s not quite there:

While the new map tools do not give free access to mapping, since the users must hold one of Ordnance Survey’s data licences, it does allow for third-party information to be freely overlaid and displayed.

Then again, if a licence can change once, it can change again. We’ll await developments.

Read the OS Webspace licence; download the tools (after reading the agreement).

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