Jump to the following:

Internet cookies at Ordnance Survey

We use cookies on this website in order to make your visit run more smoothly and to give us statistics that help us plan future enhancements. Learn more about the cookies we use.


Crown copyright

The law of copyright is governed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Copyright protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and confers on a copyright owner the exclusive right to do certain acts in relation to a work, for example, the right to copy or make an adaptation of a work. Copyright is infringed by anyone who does any of those acts without a licence from the copyright owner. Copyright material produced by employees of the Crown in the course of their duties is referred to as Crown copyright. Therefore, material originated by Ordnance Survey is protected by Crown copyright.

The Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, an official within The National Archives (TNA), in their role as Queen’s Printer, has been appointed by Her Majesty the Queen to manage all copyrights owned by the Crown on Her Majesty’s behalf. The Controller has delegated the authority to Ordnance Survey to license the re-use of Ordnance Survey originated data and products that are protected by Crown copyright. Further information on Crown copyright can be found on nationalarchives.gov.uk

Ordnance Survey maps are protected by Crown copyright for a period of 50 years from the end of the year in which the map was published. For example, the copyright in a map published in 1942 would have expired in 1992.

Intellectual property rights

Intellectual property is information and the expression of ideas that countries recognise as having value in the individual and the economy. Intellectual property is protected under national law and international conventions. Intellectual property rights are there to protect creators of this property (such as Ordnance Survey’s mapping information) against theft or use in a way that would mean no return on their investment. Ordnance Survey’s intellectual property includes Crown copyright, database right and trademarks.

Feature attribution

Feature attributes are the characteristics associated with features in Ordnance Survey datasets. These characteristics could relate to the real-world object the feature represents or the properties of the feature itself. For example, the theme the feature belongs to is an attribute.

Each Ordnance Survey dataset has its own set of feature attribution. For a more detailed description of the feature attribution relevant to each, please consult the technical specification of the dataset you hold or contact us for further guidance.


Raster format means the representation of mapping composed of individual pixels (the smallest discernable element of such mapping), where the information stored within each pixel corresponds to the colour of that pixel only and such information is not referenced to the information within any other pixel. In other words, raster data is a picture with no ‘intelligence’. What you see is what you get!


Vector format means the representation of individual geographic or cartographic features as individual data objects comprising, but not limited to, points, lines, areas and attributes, including cartographic text. So, for example, you can choose to include or exclude particular features when displaying vector data. You could also interrogate particular features and view attribution that has been associated with them. Vector data may therefore be considered to be more flexible and ‘intelligent’ than raster data.


Waypoints are simply reference points in physical space that are used for the purpose of navigation. They are defined by coordinates, which, for the purposes of terrestrial navigation, may be expressed in terms of longitude and latitude or Ordnance Survey grid references. Waypoints are usually associated with distinctive features of the real world, such as buildings or the intersections of roads or paths.

Back to top