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Copying of maps held in public libraries and 'fair dealing'

Ordnance Survey maps are artistic works and as such are not covered by section 39(1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 ("the Act") which relates to the copying of published copyright works by librarians.

Ordnance Survey hereby confirms that notwithstanding the above it will not object to the copying of paper maps or the production of prints from electronic data by librarians PROVIDED THAT the prescribed conditions set out in section 39(2) of the Act are complied with, namely:

(i) that copies are only supplied to persons satisfying the librarian that they require the copy for the purposes of:

  • research for a non commercial purpose; or
  • private study

and will not use them for any other purpose;

(ii) that no person is given more than one copy of the same material or with a copy of more than a reasonable proportion of any work;


(iii) that the person to whom copies are supplied are required to pay for them a sum not less than the cost (including a contribution to the general expense of the library) attributable to their production.

In addition to the prescribed conditions set out in section 39(2) Ordnance Survey requires that each copy is accompanied by an acknowledgment in the following form (unless such acknowledgement is impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise):

© Crown Copyright. Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey®.

With regard to paragraph 2(ii) above, in appropriate circumstances Ordnance Survey will not object to a maximum of 4 copies of the same map extract being made with each individual copy no larger than 625 sq cm (A4), provided the other requirements of section 39(2) of the Act are satisfied.

In exceptional circumstances Ordnance Survey may allow the copying of a single extract larger than A4 provided it is for a non commercial purpose or private study only.

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