[geo-discuss] Re: Fwd: [ordnancemaps] Soviet Military Maps of UK

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Mon Aug 22 21:37:51 UTC 2005

[Warning - extremely amateur lawyer-wanking ahead: do not read if 
gauche attempts to understand the law offend you!]

On 22 Aug 2005, at 19:47, SteveC wrote:

> OpenStreetMap has the services of a lawyer who has been very helpful
> with a lot of things so far. If more detail on some things are needed
> then I can ask.

I _would_ be really interested to find his/her view on making derived 
works (traced maps) from aerial photography, if possible.

I've spent much of this evening looking over UK copyright legislation 
which is very neatly summarised at 
www.patent.gov.uk/copy/legislation/legislation.pdf . (I'd previously 
relied on the online text of the Copyright, Designs & Patents Acts 
1988, but there's a lot of relevant post-1988 European legislation, and 
the PDF at patent.gov.uk takes this into account.)

Two readings from a layman's perspective (but see also 

1. An aerial photograph is clearly "an artistic work" (4.1.a: "a 
graphic work, photograph, sculpture or collage, irrespective of 
artistic quality").
    There is no restriction on "making adaptation" of an artistic work, 
as 21.1 explains that this only applies to literary, dramatic and 
musical works. Is this significant?
    Or does it just come down to 17.2 - is tracing an aerial photograph 
"reproducing the work in any material form"?

2. Another tack: perhaps a reading could be constructed around Section 
62. This says there's no copyright infringement in photographing or 
redrawing ("graphic works") buildings and public sculptures. (It only 
cites buildings and sculptures, so I'd surmise that the lie of the land 
can't be copyrighted.)
    This, to me, implies that a photograph of a building (aerial or not) 
is copyrightable because of its artistic merit - not because of the 
information it contains. Otherwise, reproducing the information (the 
layout of the building) would be an infringement, and 62 expressly says 
it isn't.
    Therefore, it should be ok to copy the information alone by tracing 
the map, without infringing the copyright in the photograph.

The copyright blurb in the front of Getmapping's photographic atlas is 
pretty inconclusive. Aside from the generic boilerplate, the only 
significant meaning I can find is "Aerial photography and processing by 
the team at Getmapping". The processing might be "a work of artistic 
craftsmanship" (4.1.c), and hence a copyrightable artistic work... but 
then we're back to reading 1 again.

Maybe I should just buy one of these and survey Britain myself, very, 
very slowly:

> For freethepostcode.org I had considered just letting people click on
> gmaps. But you can't.

I'd concur with that, because you're partially producing a derived work 
from Google Maps' georeferencing, which is protected under database 
right. But I'm too tired to do a proper check against the legislation. 


More information about the geo-discuss mailing list