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Map sales

Request for information – FOI13423

Thank you for your e-mail of 2 October 2013, which we acknowledge, requesting information from Ordnance Survey in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000.

Ordnance Survey responds to your information request as follows:

I'd be grateful if you could provide me with the following information:

1. The numbers of OS maps 1:25000 and 1:50000 sold in the UK this year?
2. Also, broken down by each particular map type and each particular map area (e.g. Yorkshire Dales). In year 2012 or, if 2012 figures are not yet available, 2011.

The information you have requested under both the above points is held by Ordnance Survey. However, we consider this information to be exempt from disclosure under Section 43 (2) of the FOIA – Commercial Interests.

Ordnance Survey, whilst being an Executive Agency, has trading fund status which means that it is required by Statute to fund all of its operations, investments and financial obligations to the British Government from the revenue it generates from licensing the Intellectual Property in its data and from sales of paper mapping. Ordnance Survey must therefore protect its commercial interests.

As the National Mapping Authority of Great Britain, it is within Ordnance Survey's remit to create, maintain and disseminate consistent, definitive and authoritative geospatial and cartographic data and products of Great Britain in the national interest. To provide details of our entire map sales and map popularity information available at individual sheet level (area), would potentially undermine the viability of specific map sheets and the sustainability of maintaining the national mapping series which Ordnance Survey as the National Mapping Authority of Great Britain, is required to publish.

Ordnance Survey also competes in commercial markets, in this instance the paper map market. There are a number of competitors within this market, and the release of information detailing the total number of map sales, the number of individually titled Ordnance Survey maps sold and the turnover of these individual map titles would provide those competing in the same narrow market with a commercial knowledge advantage.

This, combined with our license model, which allows other organisations to access and resell our small scale mapping data, would potentially create anomalies in the market place contrary to UK Competition Law.

Public interest
We are aware there is general public interest for disclosure of information under accountability and transparency, but this has to be balanced against the factors allowing an organisations to be able to conduct their business fairly and with integrity.

We have determined there is public interest in ensuring businesses are not damaged or undermined by the disclosure of information which is not common knowledge, and which could adversely impact from a commercial perspective. Disclosure of the information regarding paper mapping sales could affect the ability for Ordnance Survey to produce a full series of titles as previously specified.

We have also given thought to the necessity for Ordnance Survey to compete fairly and not provide an unfair commercial advantage to others, or place ourselves at a commercial disadvantage by the release of the information, and are satisfied the public interest remains in favour of our withholding the information in this instance.

Advice and Assistance – Section 16 of the FOIA
It may be of interest to note that we have previously made available the names of the top ten most popular maps by region, which you can access via a previous FOI response on our website. Whilst we have listed the maps by popularity they do not include details of actual sales.

Internal review
Your request has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our FOI Internal Review Officer, by contacting them as follows:

FOI Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Ordnance Survey
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS

E-mail: foi@ordnancesurvey.co.uk

Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:

  • Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
  • Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
  • Failed to provide the information you have requested
  • Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
  • Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception

The FOI Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.

The FOI Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.

Appeal to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal with the Information Commissioner’s Office at:

The Case Reception Unit
Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

You may e-mail the ICO at: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk or telephone their helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.

Thank you for your enquiry.

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