Ordnance Survey ban Google Maps

If the police are infringing your copyright, I wonder who you call?

The Free Our Data blog has done some sterling work lately, highlighting Ordnance Survey’s recent warning that it was a ‘breach of Crown copyright’ to display ‘any data created using Ordnance Survey base data’ on a Google Map. Yes, they did explicitly mention Google Maps.

It’s now been confirmed by OS that the Metropolitan Police are breaking the terms of their OS licence, by plotting crime data on a Google Map. You might remember, I noted the significance of their use of Google Maps when it first launched.

As the Guardian guys noted last week, ‘the OS is perfectly within its rights – indeed, it’s asserting its rights as required by its terms of business’ to make an issue of this. But it’s a perfect illustration of why OS is fighting a losing battle; and if the rules are going to prevent the government delivering on a timeboxed promise (specifically, the end of 2008), don’t be surprised if the rules get changed as a matter of urgency.

The Pre Budget Report is on Monday, by the way. Check the small print.

PS: It’s well worth reading what Ed Parsons – ex-OS, now the Geospatial Technologist of Google – has to say on the subject.