Friday, November 14, 2008

Google Maps Change Terms of Service

This week the Ordnance Survey in the UK wrote to local government organisations stating that they could not use any local authority data that is in any way geographically related without licensing the data from the OS.

This has huge implications for map developers in the UK. For example it means the police are breaking the law (according to the OS) for their Google Map based crime maps, because they use OS boundaries.

This move by the OS has been seen by many (see Charles Arthur's article in The Guardian) as a warning to map developers not to overlay any geographical data that is derived from the OS on Google Maps.

Charles Arthur seems to think this move by the OS is partly because,

"Google's terms and conditions appear to provide that any display of data on or through the Google services grants Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such data."

Presumably in response to this move by the Ordnance Survey Google have this week rewritten their terms of service for using the Google Maps API. Ed Parsons (a Geospatial Technologist at Google) has written a good blog post today that attempts to explain the effect of the new terms of service on Google Maps mash-up developers. The post is called "Who Reads the Terms of Service Anyway ...".

If you are a map developer and you can't be bothered to read the TOS you should at least read Ed Parsons' post.

If want to read the new Terms of Services for yourself:

New Terms:

Updated FAQ:

And if you want to join the debate:

Google Maps API Group TOS discussion

Some Google Maps Developers have certainly interpreted the new TOS less favourably than Ed Parsons. Barry Hunter of, certainty feels the changes are less benign than Ed Parson's suggests.

Update (17th Nov): The BBC have also printed an article about the battle between Google Maps and the Ordnance Survey - The Mapping Mess - Google vs OS

Thanks to Mapperz for the links.


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