Category Archives: copyright

Free Our Data

Ed notes (and dislikes) this piece in the Guardian about how taxpayer funded map data should be Free. The article isn’t limited to geodata and fails to mention openstreetmap like previous articles so perhaps it has an industry source. They make good work of the juicy target – the OS – and mention the Peter Weiss article.

More interestingly they bring up other examples like the Hydrographic Office’s somewhat mad scheme of copyrighting tide tables.


Mikel notes that have combined a bunch of free data to make an aggregated geocoder for cities and postcodes. I’m not confident their UK postcode data is free, but it’s a fantastic idea and one worth charging for.

Maps that Lye

This is a tiny scan from an A-Z map of central Bristol:

Map of Lye Close

Only if you go and wander around Canynge Square in Bristol you see some nice houses where that Close should be:


Lye Close isn’t in the index either. Weird, huh? Well, not really. It’s an easter egg, a surprise street inserted so that if you attempt to copy the map then then the copyright holder can prove you copied it. Otherwise, why would you have the nonsense street in your map if you didn’t get it from them?

Fake street features are fairly hard to find, and we really have no idea how many there are. Fake streets, purpose mis-spellings and phantom churches are all thought to exist. It’s why OpenStreetMap asks you not to refence maps when entering data, and it’s one reason why we need our own free and accurate geodata.

With thanks to Laurence and Jo for scans and pictures.