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Public sector licensing: Watermarking

Learn about our copyright guidance for watermarking licensed data.

Our public sector Member Licence tells you when a watermark should be used for licensed data. Make sure you are watermarking correctly using our guidance.

You should also make sure you are using the appropriate copyright acknowledgement.


Which products need watermarking? 

Licensed data that is made up of, or is derived from these products: 

  • OS MasterMap Topography Layer.
  • OS MasterMap Highways Network.
  • OS VectorMap Local.
  • Withdrawn products - Land-Line, Integrated Transport Network (ITN), OSCAR, 1:10 000 Scale Raster.


Paper copies and electronic documents

No watermarking is required when you are making licensed data available in:

  • A hard copy.
  • An electronic document (e.g. a PDF).
  • A static internet image.

Electronic map images must not be able to be edited, manipulated, interrogated (for example, for feature attribution) or geo-referenced. They must not be customised in any way, or be used within any geographical information system (GIS), comparable database or software system.


Electronic publishing via web mapping services (WMS) and web feature services (WFS)

It is your choice whether you add a watermark or not - providing that you have employed the appropriate security measures to support your decision.

If you do add a watermark, you can choose the type of watermark and the method to apply it. It should always identify the authority publishing the map.


Electronic publishing for INSPIRE purposes

Watermarking does not apply to web map services and web feature services for INSPIRE purposes. Instead this falls under our:



You can use OS data within your business, including on intranets. Follow the same guidance as above.


Planning applications

Where you have a statutory obligation to publish planning applications on the internet, you may use your discretion and choose not to include a watermark on any mapping extras, which may be included in the planning application. This is regardless of the guidance on electronic publishing outlined above.