[OSM-legal-talk] To delete or not to delete, that is the question...

Nick Whitelegg nick_whitelegg at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Aug 20 11:11:12 BST 2011

Had an experience yesterday which raises an interesting legal question. Around 
Easter 2010, IIRC, I surveyed what appeared to be a footpath in good faith: the 
footpath sign appeared to point down a gravel track across a field. Yesterday, 
as part of another mapping expedition, I followed said footpath in reverse, 
partly through memory and partly because again, the sign at the other end 
appeared to point down it.

The track led onto a road. About a minute later, I noticed a car come out of the 
field and follow me down the road; I was then given a hard time by the landowner 
about trespassing etc. Partly because I was convinced that it was the footpath, 
or, if it wasn't, the signposts didn't make that clear, and partly because 
"chasing" someone down a road is rather OTT and petty-minded, IMO, I argued my 

However on returning I looked at the Ordnance Survey map out of curiosity, and 
found it wasn't the footpath - the footpath actually diverged from the track and 
cut straight across a field, though the signs were very ambiguous. That said, 
her reaction did seem very militant in the circumstances, which makes me believe 
she's someone that could potentially kick up a fuss if said path is on OSM and 
people are following it - or make walkers vulnerable to a confrontation.

This does raise a legal dilemma though. Should the path stay in OSM and risk the 
possible consequences - or should the path be deleted, risking potential OS 
copyright infringement (as it was the OS that confirmed that the path didn't in 
fact exist)?

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