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Maps and scans

We often find ourselves wanting to add a map to a web site, and there are various ways of doing this without infringing copyright. We might use a service like Multimap to pinpoint the location where a book launch will take place; we might hand-draw a more impressionistic map of the places mentioned in a series of murder mysteries; we combine a limited number of maps from the Ordnance Survey’s Get a Map service with maps which are old enough to be out of copyright to describe the route of the Lyke Wake Walk. But sometimes there is no substitute for the detailed and authoritative maps produced by the Ordnance Survey. Unfortunately, their fee for using their maps online runs to thousands of pounds a year, way beyond the means of most of our customers.

Now the Free Our Data Campaign launched by The Guardian points out that although a licence to use digital maps is prohibitively expensive, there is a much cheaper (and I mean "much" – one fiftieth of the price, in the case they describe) licence to scan a paper map, and use the resultant image on your web site.

This isn’t a complete solution, and there are restrictions, but it still opens up new possibilities.

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