“IP rights are there to protect creators of this property (such as our mapping information) against theft or use in a way that would mean no return on their investment.

The level of legal protection offered to IP owners reflects the high priority given to encouraging creativity and investment within the European Union and internationally.”

OS have a ‘history’ of rigidly enforcing their own IP rights, and woe betide anyone who falls foul of them. Although I have to say that some of their activity can only be described as peculiar, and rather oddly implemented. Ask Andy Wightman, whose website ‘Who Owns Scotland’ fell foul of OS a few years ago. His is a strange tale that is worth considering (link) for it reveals, at best, a lack of joined-up thinking within OS:






There’s more and more of these ‘competitions’ appearing, but it fills me with dismay to see OS stooping to this level. I fail to see how this thinly disguised rights grab encourages anyone to be creative. Professional  and amateur photographers across the UK are being ripped off to provide a cash surplus for OS that will simply be pocketed.

It’s immoral and its totally unacceptable. But, you may ask, why does this matter? And why do I care?

I work on a regular basis with photography students young and old, and with University students pursuing Degree courses in (natural history) image making. I meet many young people who are keen to make a career in photography and earn a living in the creative industries; these are committed individuals whose endeavours will contribute a great deal to the success of many UK businesses. They deserve the support of government, and government agencies such as OS. The small per-use payments hitherto made to licence individual map images from photographers might not seem like very much individually, but together they do matter, they trickle down through the economy, underpinning small businesses, and helping support communities.

OS has many intelligent people working for it. How difficult would it be to come up with some novel scheme that doesn’t financially penalise contributors but actually rewards them, doing precisely what its Corporate Responsibility statement promises, and which they acknowledge on their website:

Intellectual property

We are in the information business, and our income mainly depends on the exploitation of our intellectual property (IP). By using IP law to protect our mapping and topographic information, we are able to provide you with the benefit of up-to-date and new products.

The level of legal protection offered to IP owners reflects the high priority given to encouraging creativity and investment within the European Union and internationally.

OS could easily be innovative, devise schemes that support photography students and young people interested in the arts through properly funded creative opportunities that both respects their intellectual property rights and at the same time provides them with valuable learning opportunities about the business of IP, the importance of licensing and the whole quickly-evolving digital rights landscape.

Is that too much to ask of intelligent highly paid people working for and on behalf of citizens?