Updated JISC-OS Licence…. why this matters to UK academics

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 09:10:30


p>I have on several occasions blogged about the OS-JISC licence including the 2009 version (including my reference to smoking!), a use-case example and including a recommendation at the Journal of Maps not to use OS data.

With the end of 2014 drawing nigh a new licence agreement has landed…. can it get any better (or worse)?

Well Digimap certainly think so: “Image publication size restrictions have changed significantly with many being removed. Please refer to the Your Obligation/Restrictions section of the EULA, specifically Clause 5.1.4 and 5.2.”

And that definitely seems to be the case. From the licence itself:

3.3.8 publish copies of your Academic Works and Research Works in academic journals, periodicals and other publications, for the purpose of communicating the results of your scholarly work:
a) in printed form; or
b) in electronic form, provided that the mapping images included in such publication comply with the requirements of sub-clause 5.1.4;

So that’s good news. Actually that’s really good news - for academic publication you can pretty much use what you need. Big thumbs up for that. OK, let’s have a look at 5.1.4:

5.1.4 ensure that any mapping images that are included in Academic Works, Presentation Materials, Research Works and Teaching Materials, which are, or are likely to be, distributed or otherwise made available to persons who are not Authorised Users (including but without limitation by way of publication on the world wide web), shall:
a) be in a Raster Format only;
b) not be geo-referenced;
c) be no larger (in scale, coverage area, number of features) than is necessary to fulfil the purpose for which the map is being used;
d) include additional information on/alongside/with the map which facilitates the purpose for which the map is being used; and
e) you shall take adequate and technological measures to prevent third parties from being able to access, use and/or extract any Ordnance Survey Licensed Data from such materials/media.

OK, let’s look at these in more detail:

(a) That’s irritating. I can live with it, but at the Journal of Maps we insist on using vector data where possible because it’s a smaller filesize (generally), tends to render quicker and print better. But I understand the rationale.
(b)What does georeferenced mean? It’s not defined in Appendix 1 but I assume that rules out a GeoPDF for starters. Can you put a graticule/grid on your map? I’d probably define that as georeferenced but it’s almost a requirement on most maps. Does that also rule out the OSs own basemapping? Almost by definition the 1:10k, 1:25k and 1:50k are all georeferenced. That’s daft, so perhaps seek some clarification on that one (not good when a “plain speak” licence fails the “plain speak” test).
(c) “be no larger than is necessary” - seems to be a “cover our backs” type of clause to stop abuse of the system. Fine with that.
(d) this struck me as really strange - “include additional information … facilitates the purpose … [ of] the map” - I’m sure there’s a “cover our back” reason for this but can’t (obviously) think of it. There are times when you wouldn’t necessarily want to have a legend (designing a flyer for coursework/academic conference) but they are less common. Any thoughts??
(e) “take adequate and technological measures” - fair enough. Don’t brazenly go giving away data!!

Clause 5.2 is worth looking at for the long list of things you are NOT allowed to do which are pretty much par for the course although this one jumped out at me:

5.2.7 incorporate the Ordnance Survey Licensed Data into any materials or media which is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to any person; or use the Ordnance Survey Licensed Data for any illegal, deceptive, misleading or unethical purposes or in a manner which may be detrimental to the reputation of Ordnance Survey or the Ordnance Survey Licensed Data;

Again slightly strange, but I can envisage academic subjects (which may incorporate maps) which do cause alarm/distress. It’s a catch-all again although you could view this as censorship of academic expression - in which case I guess data outside the licence is the way to go!

Sp in all in very good news - this is what the licence should have been 10 years ago but thats a long time in digital life. Once we have clarification of georeferencing that should pretty much open up academic use of OS data for journal publication.

Ten truths for a PhD student…..

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 13:31:16

Fun article by Tara Brabazon - and if you haven’t seen her speak then she’s great value - well worth pondering upon for all potential and future PhD students, although don’t necessarily take everything to heart as people and subjects vary across the academic world. Good advice though!

Life isn’t fair….

Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 17:15:02

These did the rounds quite a while back from the looks of things, but Bill Gates’ 11 rules of life are still pretty pertinent:

1.Life is not fair; get used to it.
2. The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.
3. You will not make $40,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with a car phone, until you earn both
4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity.
6. If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
7. Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try “delousing” the closet in your own room.
8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.
9. Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
10. Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
11. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

1960s Earth Revealed

Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 10:52:10

A totally wonderful article on National Geographic about the recovery of “lost” satellite images of the Earth from the early 1960s when satellite imaging was in its infancy. To quote:

“Earth scientists David Gallaher and Garrett Campbell liberated the data from a National Climatic Data Center archive in North Carolina, uncovering 25 boxes of magnetic tapes and photographic film from three Nimbus weather satellites launched in the 1960s and 1970s.”

The examples in the article are brilliant including the ecological disaster that is the shrinking of the Aral Sea. Total treasure trove for image hunters!! (and thanks to the person who sent me the link!)

Digimap offers file geodatabase

Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 10:47:32

Digimap is now supporting the file geodatabase format for downloading Mastermap. Whilst GML is a good standard for data transfer, Digimap’s users by an large use ArcGIS and QGIS and by offering it this way it should make life much easier for using Mastermap.

Note that the file geodatabase has long been touted as the successor to the shapefile, but Esri dragged it’s heels over publishing the api although it now works on Windows, Linux and Mac (32/64bit) so hopefully this will help push things along a little more.

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