SSC Weather Forecast

The Problem

Data regarding the UK weather systems are collected and used for predictive weather forecasting by the UK Met Office. Various forecasts, including the inshore forecasts, are provided via the Met Office website free of charge as a public service. Unfortunately the licence to use this information is quite restrictive. It may be downloaded and used in any form for personal use. However, the data may not be displayed on a third party website except as a link to the appropriate Met Office page. To me this is equivalent to demanding a whole page advert for Diagon Alley whenever Harry Potter gets on his broomstick. An acknowledgement? Sure. A whole page advert? Non!

The Money

You will see other sites, such as the BBC, which do display Met Office weather forecasts. They get around the restriction by licensing the data feed from the Met Office. Unfortunately the Met Office are only interested in corporate customers and charge £600 pa plus VAT for the inshore forecast data feed. I pleaded and cajoled. I got Met Office support staff to (almost) say that it was unfair to charge individuals and small clubs corporate fees. However, the closest I got to what I wanted was a promise that my comments might be presented at the annual charges review later this year. I am not holding my breath.

The Workaround

So, in the meantime... It is clearly not allowed to take the North Forelands to The Wash inshore forecast from the Met Office website and reproduce it on ours. But is it OK to read the forecast from their site, mull it over and then precis it on our site? Who knows, but that is the route I've taken. Every day I (or a program I have written on my server) reads the inshore forecast, extracts the bit local to Slaughden, re-hashes it and puts it on SSC front page.


Richard Walker, March 2006