OS Photofit – not as bad as it was

February 11, 2015  •  3 Comments

The Ordnance Survey has just launched a competition called OS Photofit. It’s asking photographers to enter images for the covers of its next range of maps – 615 in all, covering Explorer, Landranger and Tour maps.

This has irritated lots of professionals, like me. I’ve licensed images to OS for map covers in the past and been paid for it. You can hardly expect pros to be thrilled when yet another once paying client decides to try and get all the images it needs for free.

However, if you’re an amateur photographer, you might think this isn’t your problem. Seeing your photo on the cover of an OS map sounds quite exciting, doesn’t it? What’s more, if your photo is one of the ones selected, you get a free copy of the map in question and a year's subscription to OS Getamap. The overall winner gets £750 of holiday vouchers and the junior winner gets an iPad mini. And if you don’t win, well, what have you got to lose?

Well, potentially quite a bit, but maybe not so much as you would have if people like me hadn’t kicked up a stink. Overnight, and without much fanfare, they have changed the terms of the competition.

Yesterday Clause 58 read:

"By entering the Competition you grant to OS (and Ordnance Survey Leisure Limited) a non- exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, perpetual licence to ... (b) include your photo in our library of images and use it commercially, including but without limitation in our calendars, electonic wallpaper, on the OS website, and in promotional materials, (and sub-licence its use to others for their personal use accordingly). Subject to Clause 59 below, we will not always publish your name and you waive your moral rights in this respect."

Effectively this would allow them to take any photo that was entered and do whatever they liked with it, including selling it on, and without any obligation to credit the photographer.

Today, I decided I'd do a blog entry about it and went back to the competition website. And look:

Clause 58 now says “By entering the Competition you grant to OS (and Ordnance Survey Leisure Limited), a non- exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, perpetual licence to publish your photo(s) on the OS Photofit website, our corporate website and social media websites (such as Facebook and Twitter), and otherwise use the photo, in connection with this Competition”. In other words, whether your photo ends up as one of the winners or not, they can make widespread use of it as long as it has some link to the competition.

And a new Clause 59 says “In the event that your photo is one of the Competition winners, you further grant to OS and Ordnance Survey Leisure Limited a non-exclusive, royalty free, worldwide and perpetual licence to publish the photo(s) on the cover of any of its paper maps, on the OS website, in promotional materials and otherwise use the photo in connection with the business of OS. If your photo is appearing on one of our map covers, we assume that you will want your name to appear on the map cover to indicate that you are the photographer/copyright owner and by entering the Competition you agree that we can do this."

I wouldn't say this is brilliant even now but it does seem like a significant concession, presumably in response to the very strong social media reaction.

Here's a photo that still won't be appearing on any OS map covers any time soon.


Comments

Keith Douglas(non-registered)
Perhaps we should collect together 12 stunning outdoor images from photographers who don't like this blatant opportunism, and do a "Not the Ordnance Survey" 2016 calendar with profits going to the photographers?!
Jon Sparks
Thanks for that. Yes, especially when it's underhand and dressed up as 'engaging with customers'.
David J Colbran(non-registered)
Great blog Jon - more and more organisations are trying to build up a royalty free image archive like this and it is shameful really.
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