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Editorial: Route Building, Ordnance Survey and Copyright Law
Author: Graham Pitt

(emphasis and formatting added by UKTrainsim)

As a result of the discussions taking place on the various MS Train Simulator® forums expressing opinions about what Ordnance Survey rules applied to Route builders using Ordnance Survey maps, I decided to make contact with Ordnance Survey to get a definitive response.

Ignorance of the law in this area is no defence. If, in building and distributing a route, we are breaching someone's copyright, we must take steps to rectify the situation.

Another reason I felt it was important to get the situation clarified was because we are discussing this on the internet. We are distributing bits and pieces of route on the internet and it won't be long before someone realises what we are doing and wonders how we are doing it.

Now that we know what the rules are, we can take steps to overcome the challenges presented.

The following is the reply I received from Ordnance Survey today, 6th March, 2002. It is reproduced in full without material editing with their permission. I have only removed the personal data contained in the email at their request.

Thank you for your telephone call of 1 March 2002 and subsequent conversation with regard to copyright issues relating to the use of Ordnance Survey height information captured from 1/25 000 mapping within your train simulator.

As requested I have set out below the fees and procedures for digitising Ordnance Survey paper maps.

Storing scanned data on a PC. We will not normally allow anyone to capture or convert information from Ordnance Survey paper maps. However, if we cannot supply you with digital map data in a form you need we may give you permission to create the data yourself. You must first ask our permission and agree to our terms, and pay our data capture fee. You must supply us with a list of the map references you would like to capture. We will not refuse permission for customers to do this without good reason. However if you would like to update this information at a later date, permission may be withheld to do this if this information is available from us at that time.

When you get our written permission, you must either buy the paper maps or use the maps you have bought already. We will charge a fee of £26.50 + VAT for each map unit captured. The number of units will vary according to the scale of the map to be captured, and these are based on the following table:

Source ScaleMap unit size
(ground area)
Map size unit
(on paper map)
Average number of
units per sheet
1:1250500m x 500m40cm x 40cm1
1:25001km x 1km40cm x 40cm1
1:10,0005km x 5km50cm x 50cm1
1:25,00010km x 10km40cm x 40cm2
1:50,00020km x 20km40cm x 40cm4
1:250,00050km x 50km20cm x 20cm22
1:625,000100km x 100km16cm x 16cm52

If you capture only one feature of a map (for example, boundaries, coastline, water and so on) our fees will be cut by 50%. Therefore this may be applicable in your case as I understand you wish to capture height data. But we will not make this cut if you want to capture road network data from our small-scale mapping.

Once the data has been captured usage and hard copy fees would also be applicable. At present these are based on the current data usage fee of £11.60 + VAT per unit, and £44.00 + VAT which covers hard copies made from up to 50 units. We would then issue the end user (the person benefiting from the mapping and who would be responsible for the data) with an Ordnance Survey digital copyright licence to use the data on up to 50 terminals (additional terminals would be charged at £17.40 per unit). The end user will need to pay a licence fee each year, which is based on the total number of units held and a hard copy fee. A licence year runs from 1 January to 31 December.

Please note that should you wish your members to access and download the data from your web site, you will need to restrict access by issuing individual passwords to your members.

I can confirm that you may reproduce any Ordnance Survey material that is over 50 years old, from the end of the calendar year in which the map was published without any royalty payment being payable to Ordnance Survey. Also no formal agreement is required to make these reproductions.

The extract should however carry an acknowledgement along the lines of:

"Reproduced from (date of map) Ordnance Survey map".

I hope this clarifies the situation. Should you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

Customer Contact Centre
Ordnance Survey
Romsey Road
SO16 4GU

Tel: 023 8030 5030
Fax:023 8079 2615

End of Quote.

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