[Talk-GB] Using rights of way data

Robert Whittaker (OSM lists) robert.whittaker+osm at gmail.com
Sun Apr 28 17:04:39 UTC 2013

On 28 April 2013 12:06, Will Phillips <wp4587 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I notice rights of way data from a number of county councils is
> available on the rowmaps.com site. It is stated that this is available
> under the  'Ordnance Survey OpenData licence'.  Is there any consensus
> over whether it is considered permissible to use this data in OSM?
> I've been working on the understanding that OGL licensed data is
> acceptable (I always tag the source). But I am unclear on the current
> position regarding the Ordnance Survey OpenData licence.

The OS OpenData Licence adds some additional obligations concerning
downstream attribution that are not present in the Open Government
Licence (OGL). My view is that these additional obligations make the
OS OpenData Licence forwards incompatible with the ODbL+DbCL licence
that OSM uses. But not everyone agrees with this view, and OS
themselves have given indications to the contrary in the past.
However, the most recent definitive statement from OS that I am aware
of appears to say that OS's view is that the OS OpenData Licence is
not forwards compatible with the ODbL+DbCL. For details see
and http://robert.mathmos.net/osm/os-open-data.html

The traditional position of OSM is to be cautious over copyright. So
without any legal certainty in the interpretation of the terms, and
with the licence owner now stating that the license is incompatible, I
think there is no way we can use OS OpenData Licensed content in OSM
-- unless we additionally obtain the explicit consent of the copyright
holder(s). This is of course rather unsatisfactory, given then amount
of Local Government data that is starting to be released under the OS
OpenData Licence. Rob Nickerson and myself have tried to raise this
problem with the Office of Public Sector Information and the Open Data
User Group -- see the request at
, but so far we haven't had any success.

There is, however, one set of OS OpenData Licensed data that we can
use in OSM, and that is the OS OpenData products themselves. Here OS
have given us special permission (at the request of LWG) to make use
of OS OpenData (with the exception of CodePoint Open) in OSM. See

At the moment, if we want to make use of the GIS Public Rights of Way
data that Local Authorities are releasing, I think we would need to
get explicit permission from OS, and also permission from each Local
Authority -- since both have IP rights in the data. This will be a
real pain, not least because the Local Authorities are unlikely to
appreciate the legal issues or want to go to the trouble/expense of
getting their legal people involved.

On the brighter side, there is one Rights of Way document that we can
get to use in OSM, which avoids any OS IP issues. That document is the
"Definitive Statement" -- a list of Rights of Way (with route
descriptions) that each Local Authority is legally required to
maintain. The route descriptions are variable, depending on the
Authority, so some may be more use than others for OSM mapping. For
some advice of how to get hold of this document and request permission
to use it in OSM, see
http://robert.mathmos.net/osm/prow/council-docs.html .


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