I used data from the Ordnance Survey for some maps I created. License information for the Ordnance Survey says to cite OS data like this:

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right [year]

and can be found at this link: www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/opendata/licence

I'm glad to use this citation, but I edited the data I downloaded a bit. What's in my maps differs from what I actually received from the OS. Should I say in the citation that the geospatial data is derived from data received from the Ordnance Survey? If you don't have an authoritative answer, I also welcome thoughtful responses.

  • 1
    Ordnance Survey like the word 'derived from' from their blog post in October 2010. blog.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/2010/10/…
    – Mapperz
    Oct 29, 2012 at 13:32
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    @Mapperz - That's something different (to do with ownership of data). Basically if I place a point on a road outside of Number 34, Made up Street, (using OS data to see that house and place the point), the OS claims ownership of that "derived" data (well, its a "grey area" at least). They're a bit lawyer heavy like that unfortunately. Oct 29, 2012 at 17:17

3 Answers 3


I think the license makes it clear you have to use those (exact) words. You could make a follow-on statement that discloses the changes.

So "Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right [year]. Source data from Ordnance Survey has been generalized to make data correspond to the size of the map."

  • Right, I am going to use those exact words. Thank you for the response, I like the follow-on statement.
    – Patty Jula
    Oct 29, 2012 at 1:32
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    I'm wondering if I should have asserted copyright on them :-)
    – BradHards
    Oct 29, 2012 at 2:07

Use the original license unchanged. As an organisation that uses a lot of OS licensed data (under this and a different license), we never change it despite having lots of altered data and derived data. In fact the text we have to use doesn't even have a vague "contains" like OpenData, its explicitly the OS asserting copyright:

*© Crown Copyright and database right 2012. Ordnance Survey [our number].

This is the same as it was when I used OS data at university under the EDINA license. It doesn't matter how much you've changed the data, if you got it from the OS the license text must remain the same.

So stick with your given license text ( Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right [year] ).

Whether the data has been changed or not isn't something you document in the license. That goes in your documentation and/or metadata.

  • Great, thanks, @GIS-Jonathan. This is what I needed.
    – Patty Jula
    Oct 29, 2012 at 17:12

I guess it depends on the context of where you're using the data, and whether it's possible for anyone to make a life-changing decision based on the information.

Eg, is this a printed map, or can people download your edited data?

If you have room to include it, it might be a good idea to list the steps that you took to edit the original OS data.

  • Thank you for the response, Stephen. The maps will be printed in a book. All I did to change the data was generalize the lines to make the data more suitable for the size (length x width) of the map.
    – Patty Jula
    Oct 28, 2012 at 22:02
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    In that case, to my (non-legal) mind there shouldn't be any problems if you acknowledge OS as the data providers. It's the role of the cartographer to present the data in the most meaningful way. Oct 28, 2012 at 22:38

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