Whose map is it anyway..

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It’s mine all mine..

This is a map of recycling centres in Teddington, my local neighbourhood in London. I created it my looking up the locations of recycling centres run by my local council, the London Borough of Richmond, from their website and then added the points using the existing Google Map and Satellite image for context.

So who owns this new map ?

I do !

By publishing the map using Google Maps, I give Google a license to use my data but it’s “ownership” as such remains with me. The license is just an explicit statement of the implict intenention of publishing a map for consumption by the public using Google as a publication channel.

Google makes no claim over the intellectual property of the maps you create, they remain your maps and the data remains your data !

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

50 Replies to “Whose map is it anyway..”

  1. Hey Richard,

    OK interesting point, in this case no it’s not a derived work as the recycling centres do not appear on any of the maps used.

  2. Interesting (I know, I know, I should get a life). But if the nice chaps at Richmond tell you there’s a recycling box at the corner of Park Lane and Park Road, and you use Google (map or satellite) to determine that said corner is at 51.425297,-0.334935, isn’t that a derivation?

    Because it would be really, really cool if it wasn’t.

  3. Not sure it is your map/data – you got it from their website. Without that you wouldn’t be able to have done it, so must be at least joint copyright …

    So yes, derived data.

    But issue is not with your data, but OS. They (legally) interpret your licensing requirement differently ….

    At least one of your competitors is sorting this – what’s Google doing about it?

  4. @ Richard,

    OK so this is really cool then, as I can use Google maps to determine the actual location, as it both does not occur on the original map or at Richmond’s website. It is the product of my interpretation in this case based on local knowledge and the imagery… therefore it is not derived !

    @ Denis,

    There was no mapping I looked at, there is no OS content whatsoever in the points I have added. Recycling points don’t appear in any OS mapping product I am aware of.

    I cannot comment on our discussions with the OS here, that would be unprofessional, but we are talking.

  5. So is it the case that it’s not derived because Google don’t have that in their licensing – if OS imagery/mapping was used it would be derived because that’s how they licence it?

  6. Ed – indeed, there was no map on the website, and most likely, the Ordnance Survey has not been involved, but you are using copyrighted information nevertheless (as Denis suggests)

    At the bottom of each page reads
    Β© London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham TW1 3BZ, Telephone 020 8891 1411

    Also there is a link:

    with the following:
    “…No part of this web site may be copied, broadcast, adapted or used in any way, without the prior permission of the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames.”

    It’s not just about derived data from Google Maps, it’s not just the potential for derived data from the OS – it’s about who owns public data.

  7. Thats ok with small data sets when you can quickly recreate them from scratch. However say I want to map planning applications and manually recreate our existing data captured over OS maps to google. Doing 700 of these every year from scratch is not very efficient. What we need to be able to do is take our existing derived data and simply be allowed to place it on top of google maps.

  8. @ Another Local Authoirty, Yes that is the real issue I’m afraid I can’t offer a solution to that..

    @Tim, no I don’t think that is the case the website itself is protected by copyright, however as the actual locations of the recycling centres themselves are not on the site, and are the product of my interpretation of imagery and local knowledge, they are not subject to Richmond’s copyright.

    This point I guess I am having trouble trying to communicate is that any information you publish using the maps API remains your information, by signing up to the Terms of Service you are providing Google with a license to use it..

    @Eugene, no the Terms of Service for MapMaker are very similar

  9. Ed – splitting hairs somewhat, sorry, but you are using the data from the council (which should be public) particularly in the information in the pop ups.

    I understand your point, but only partly. Does it apply just to the easy to use myMaps on maps.google, or to all data shown using the mapping API?

    For example, a kml file of favourite drinking holes put on http://maps.google.co.uk as part of myMaps, versus my own website that shows my favourite drinking holes that uses the google maps mapping api http://code.google.com/apis/maps/ and some custom marker code?

  10. So if I create such a map, it’s ok to publish it in my new book about recycling centres?

    I somehow suspect that both Google and TeleAtlas would quickly dispute the fact that this is my map. πŸ™‚

  11. spaetz,

    I think you are missing the point.. the discussion is about the information you might add using the api or MyMaps not the underlining base mapping or imagery.

    As you point out, yes indeed Google et al, would have an issue with you publishing a book of Google Maps!

    Still nice to know there is somebody else interested in recycling centres πŸ™‚

  12. This is all very interesting but I’ve just located a PDF map on Richmond’s site which shows the location of all the recycling points and associated information in the borough – http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/environment/rubbish_waste_and_recycling/recycling_centres.htm – there is a PDF here.

    Now. No one is saying that Ed nicked the information from that map as the positions of some of the the facilities are different (in fact more on Ed’s than Richmond’s)? But it does prove a point – that facilities change over time and information that is provided on paper or PDF type media are quickly out of date and that is why interactive maps are so important as well as properly maintained data – this from a Paleotard (sorry Ed, we do have our uses). And, by the way, Richmond’s map contains no copyright in the PDF – whoops!

  13. Ed,

    Your reply to spaetz actually sorely misses the point. His point wasn’t about the Google Base Imagery — as an OSM user, he’s fullly capable of producing his own basemaps (and often more interesting ones than Google, since he has the ability to create his own tile styling). Instead, his point was “Is the data that I’ve created in Google My Maps really mine?”

    In order to position your recycling centers, you claim you used “imagination and local knowledge”. While that’s true to an extent, that’s unlikely to be *all* you used. I’d say there’s a very good chance that you used the map to position your points. For example, you looked at the map, and knew that there was one halfway down Walpole Road.

    Now, what you’ve just done is used the map data to create a derivative piece of information: The *source* of the information is the location of the street (which does not belong to you). When creating data over the top of Google Maps streets, you’re deriving information from Google’s database — and as such, the resulting information is subject to violation of the database protections that Google has over its street database. At least, this is the common legal opinion: perhaps you are saying that Google is giving that up intentionally, but their licensing agreements definitely do not make this clear. I’ve had this conversation with a number of Google Maps people, and never gotten a straight answer.

    Now, within the US, where there is no database protection, it’s likely that you’d be in the clear. However, in the UK at least, if you were to take these markers, plot them over OpenStreetMap, and publish the result in a book, I expect you’d be in legal problems — not because of the OSM data, but because those markers that you created *don’t belong to you*. You created them as a derivative work of a database of information that *isn’t yours*, and doing that is a violation of those rights.

    If you’d like to say that that’s not the way that Google thinks, that’s great. It would mean, as far as I can tell, that the derivation of information from a Google Map — by, for example, tracing out the location of a footpath relative to the other streets in an area — would not be violation, so long as that data was originally not published in Google’s dataset. However, that is not at all supported by the current majority legal opinion as I’m aware of it, so if you really feel this way, it would be great to have a clear statement to that effect.

    In essence, the question is as simple as this: When I create a Google MyMap, and I download the KML — who owns the copyright in that KML file? Is it me — or is it me with a derivative right from Google?

    I think you can see plainly that the tools exist for me to trace out an entire town into a Google MyMap, and you’d argue (I assume) that doing so wouldn’t give me a copyright. So let me make it even clearer: If I make a Google My Map, mapping out the locations of the bars that I got way too drunk in during FOSS4G, using Google Maps street layer as a base (ignoring the fact that the data for Cape Town is abysmal) — do I own that information? Or not?

  14. Chris,

    This is a great discussion much needed I think you will agree.. I think you mean interpretation rather than imagination and this is a key point.

    I have through my “skill and judgement” interpreted where to locate the recycling centres, as they locations don’t appear on either the mapping or the original website.

    So the locations are not derived…

    So you answer you question…

    “When I create a Google MyMap, and I download the KML β€” who owns the copyright in that KML file? Is it me β€” or is it me with a derivative right from Google?”

    As long as you have not traced an existing feature from the maps, and therefore you have created “new” content, you own the rights to that content and you are giving Google a license to use it.

  15. If I wanted to find something like recycling locations, I would look them up on the local council website. If the council did not show them on a map (static or interactive), I would look the addresses up on one of the general mapping sites on the internet. I would be highly skeptical of point in time maps generated by an individual. As TEG says, does the individual update the map when the data changes? How do they even know the data has changed? The council probably won’t notify them.

    That’s not to say commercial/official maps or data are perfect but at least the organisations have a responsibility to maintain and update the data.

  16. It’s becoming clearer what you mean by using “skill and judgement” as they locations don’t appear on the mapping. It’s not copying anything from the map. It’s merely using the api to help position your information.

    Could you also say the same if you were to use skill and judgement to locate them using the aerial imagery? It would indeed be likely that such recycling features are easily identifiable from such imagery?

    Or, to clarify another use case, using Google’s aerial imagery (not the mapping) to create a series of tie points for the rectification of old maps, or home made aerial photos? With these cases – it’s essential to be able to use and identify features, but it also essential to use skill and judgement to be able to identify the corresponding locations.

    Or, would this be a case of “traced an existing feature from the maps” ?

  17. Ed,

    That’s an interesting perspective. Not supported by most people in this area, so far as I’m aware, so I’d be interested to see that stated in some official capacity. (I won’t go so far as to assume that a comment made in your personal blog counts as the official position of a legal nature. :))

    I can’t tell if you simply disagree with the general legal consensus (actually won in court at least once) that basing your mapping efforts on existing maps is creating a derivative work. The case I’m thinking of was actually won against a company which wasn’t using the map as a basis for anything other than how to *get* to things they hadn’t mapped yet, and a court ruled that they were in violation, iirc. At the very least, the interpretation at the end of comment #18 is not the most common one among open mapping advocates; it’s specifically much more open than most people have thus far assumed.

    I’d also be interested in Tim’s question in #20: How does this extend to satellite imagery? Clearly, there is interpretation in a specific cluster of buildings being in a specific place having some meaning — If recyling centers or whatever these things are are visible on the satellite imagery (and that’s how you got ahold of the locations), how does that affect things?

  18. @ Tim,

    I actually used a combination of the imagery which does show the location of some of the sites and local knowledge. Again as I have said before, because the recycling centres themselves don’t appear as features in any mapping, my map is not a derived work.

    You use case sounds fine, you are not tracing a feature from the map, the operation you suggest is something you would do when brining in an image overlay into Google Earth for example.

    @Chris.. You must understand the difference between intrepreting an image or placing a faeture based on your local knoweldge and tracing an exsiting feature that is already represented on the map. Tim question I think helps to clarify this, I can interpret the location of a recycling centre from the image and label its location, I can do this only because of my experience or additional local knowledge.

    This is the key point to understand what is derived and what is not.

  19. Evidently the UK IPR issue is restrictive and ambiguous to such a degree that it stimulate such discussion. Ed knows this and is using this medium to smoke out the culprits and stimulate change. Good call. The US model is the ideal model. We paid for the data, and it should be in the public domain without restriction to stimulate society. The OS model is nothing but a stranglehold. Need to go and put my bins out now. I will use my own interpretation of my spatial cache to position my grey and green bins based upon real world spatial correlation and the fact that council bin man will not walk too far from the truck. My knowledge is of course underpinned by years of OS map usage and thus, I am in debt.

  20. Brief technical clarification:
    The map that Ed has embedded above uses MyMaps and Google Maps – it does not use the Google Maps API. Therefore it is subject only to the Maps Terms of Use, and not to the Maps API Terms of Service.

    So keep in mind that this particular discussion does not actually actually concern the Maps API ToS. Thanks!

  21. Ed:

    Again, I would love to see comments on this issue from Google in a more authoritative location than your personal blog.

    Specific use cases that I can’t understand based on your distinction:

    I trace a footpath from satellite imagery. I know the footpath is there, because I’ve walked down it, but I don’t know if it has a name, just that it exists. (This is true, for example, for some foot paths in the hills of San Francisco, which I’ve walked down, but didn’t pay much attention to.) The local knowledge allows me to know this is a footpath, but the exact location of it is determined exclusively from the map.

    One possible interpretation: Knowing that it is a footpath makes it not a derived work, because it required the local knowledge of walking down it to know what it was.

    Another possible interpretation: The location of this foot path is traced exclusively from the map, and is therefore a derivative of the map.

    Your statements above make it seem like you’re saying the former is true: You identified the locations of features exclusively from the map, using street/aerial imagery. These features are (in at least one case that I looked at) visible from the Aerial imagery, so the location is, at least possibly, derived. So, the local knowledge that you added is that it is a recycling center.

    Another possible use case: I trace the same footpath, using the same imagery, but I *haven’t* walked down it before. However, I can clearly tell it’s a foot path because I see people walking down it.

    In this case, the only difference is that I’m interpreting the image, instead of using a physical location as being the informative piece of context. I’m interpreting the size of the feature, the imagery of people walking down it, and making a judgement call about what it is. The points are exactly the same, and the end result is exactly the same. Is this one any more or less a derivative work?

    Certainly, I can look at images in the Google Map above and see what are clearly bins and so on. The fact that it is a recycling center is a piece of information that I can determine from the image. If I were to make the same determination from the image, or from walking by and taking a snapshot, it sounds like you’re saying that the latter is not a derivative work, and the former is.

    If this is true — the attribute being the important creative work — there is still a key point that isn’t addressed: The physical location of the thing you are labelling — it’s latitude/longitude coordinates — is exclusively determined by looking at the map in *either* case. (Assuming that I don’t have a GPS with me when I take the snapshot.) In either case, the geographic coordinates that exist have to be owned by the same person, as far as I can tell, no?

    Another use case: I drive a route to the airport with a GPS in my car. At one point, I go under some trees, and the GPS signal cuts out. I trace out a line over the GPS track, and then lay that down in MapMaker. I then notice that at the point where the GPS cut out, there is a small curve in the road.

    I’ve been down the road. I’ve seen the curve. I know it exists, but not exactly where it is, because I don’t have the geodata collected from an independent source. If I take my line, improve it (by dragging it around in MapMaker) and then export the data again — who owns the geodata? I couldn’t have built that line without Google Maps, but I wouldn’t have built the same line without GPS either.

    I’m willing to admit that the combination of the attribute and geographic information creates a piece of information that perhaps couldn’t be garnered from the map alone. However, the geodata itself — the placement of the marker — is clearly not based on local knowledge. The same data could be created — in at least one place — by simply looking at the map and selecting a point which is visibly a recycling spot. I don’t understand that the extraction of this piece of geodata can be said to be the result of local knowledge, in either case. (Local knowledge might put a recycling center at, for example, the intersection of Park Lane and the A309, but not in the specific parking lot where it is actually placed.) With that in mind, I’m interested in where the line gets drawn.

    To expand the question: If I take imagery and put a point on everything that looks like a recycling center, I might get a similar map to what you have here. (Assuming sufficiently detailed imagery of the area in question, and enough free time to actually inspect every pixel.) The pixels would likely end up in a very similar geographic pattern — and I don’t understand if using the same source map, and getting the same output data, by using a different entry pattern, would mean that the restrictions on the result are somehow different.

  22. The issue of what is / is not derived is complex, it simple terms you cannot trace any feature that already exists on the map.

    Using an image and relative location of other features on a map to create and place a new feature is generally OK, and if creating a feature to be shared with others on a Google Maps is something we would urge you to do.

    And back to the original point of my post.. for the new features you create, you provide a license to Google to allow the data to be used on other Google sites and by other users of Google products. The intellectual property rights remain with you as the creator of the new feature.

  23. All semantics. Bottom line: OS claim everything is derived from their Godly Db in Soton. Accept it and pay your dues. All this talk is solving nothing. Rise up warriors of GI: lay waste to OSHQ. Free our data.

  24. Ed:

    “We would urge you to do that on a Google Map” is clearly different from “The data belongs to you”: Since Google pays the licensing fees on all this data, what you can do with the data within Google Maps, Google MapMaker, or other Google related mapping products is clearly completely unrelated to whose data it actually is.

    You claim the data that you’ve created here belongs to you, because you’re creating new features. I say that in at least some cases, I can observe the features that you created — and in no case was the creation of the features geographic location at any point separate from the proprietary/closed Google data. It seems clear that no one could take this data and, for example, integrate it into OSM: the locations are entirely based on the map vector and imagery data, not an independent data source which is not owned by Google.

    You could say that you added information to the feature creation (the labeling of the features as recycling centers): I’m completely willing to grant that is local knowledge that you wouldn’t get from the proprietary datasource. But the locations themselves could not be generated without the map: being entirely dependent on Google Maps for creating the locations sounds an awful lot to me like it’s creating a derivative work.

    If the point was to say “If you create data, we’re not going to start owning it just by you creating it” — for example, just by publishing/uploading a KML file of GPS waypoints into MapMaker, I haven’t given up any rights to it — that’s totally cool, and I’d agree 100%. But if that’s what you were trying to prove, creating data clearly derived from a proprietary source doesn’t sound like it’s making that case to me. πŸ™‚

  25. Christopher,

    Please go back comment 1 and read them all again, if after the second reading what I am saying is still not clear I cannot help anymore, and my argument clearly needs recycling itself πŸ™‚

    As The Spatializer points out, the real target for this clarification could not care less anyway.

  26. We should be thankful that Google, and others, have stimulated such change and expectation. Change management is always a tough nut. There are different stages of pain and expectation. Divert the angst to the OS and get them release the grip.

  27. I agree with the Spatializer its not googles fault it is down to OS’s restrictive practices and licences. If google overcame this particular hurdle im sure OS would throw another obstacle in the way. I think the work google et al is doing is very worthwhile, and while it is not suitable for everything in Local Government I would love to make use of it for displaying some of our data.

  28. Firstly, I am not particularly for or against the Ordnance Survey (OS).

    Free is not always best and is often not free at all. Unlimited broadband IS limited. The price you pay for using Google or other services is the data they collect about you and the adverts on their web pages. Would you prefer the OS to give their maps away and embed adverts in them instead?

    Perhaps things are worse now the OS has been privatised. If the mapping is their main source of income and they invest a lot of time, effort and money in it, how are they supposed to recoup their costs? Charge corporate users more so “the public” can map for free? If local authorities have to pay more it either goes on your council tax or they reduce their use of mapping/GIS. The first option is not popular, the second reduces the benefits using GIS can bring to the community. I would say there is an argument for local authorities being classed as not-for-profit organisations and paying reduced rates for mapping but I can not see it happening.

    Is it the case that the costly OS mapping is better than the data in, say, the US?

    On the subject of derivation, what happens if the individual is making money out of the data they have mapped and own? Suddenly it is derived and Google wants a slice of the profits?

  29. Why can’t we simply have what we have paid for?
    I am not interested in analogies with Broadband et al. The OS has been funded to do a range of things. The data they manage has been funded already. In the case of the broadband analogy, it is the equivalent of having your monthly direct debit taken, but then not having the web access.

    The accessibility to our data is the issue, not necessarily the quality. US vs UK data. This is the 21st century. The OS needs to reflect that. We are in the IM age and that data should be swirling around for us to jump on and ride. Not locked down via SLA’s and naff purchase schemes. Little Britain.

  30. Coo, this one’s still going on.

    Ed – one comment I’d particularly like to follow up, if I may. And I have reread from comment 1. πŸ™‚

    To locate the recycling sites, you “used a combination of the imagery which does show the location of some of the sites and local knowledge” – and now all the data are belong to you. Which is good.

    (We’re talking imagery here, not maps, so there’s no Navteq/TeleAtlas geodata to get in the way.)

    So if I were to look at your lovely hi-res imagery, think “oh, that looks like a recycling site”, and plot something, do I own my data? Or do I need the magic ingredient of local knowledge as well?

    (And if so, how would that work for, say, a mainline railway? Surely the “local knowledge” involved in identifying four straight tracks with trains on them as a railway is so utterly insignificant as not to merit any copyright protection.)

  31. Ed, you will never convince them. Warped and twisted wood is difficult to craft. It would be great to see a forum or workshop were geo-legal experts from overseas were given the opportunity to assess, discuss and critique this UK GeoInfo mess, in a manner that was objective and without agenda or bias. Then documented and presented to the Govt., the OS and the UK Geo community.

  32. Ed (and everyone else)

    On my website (http://www.contaminatedland.co.uk/sere-dip/estd-uxb.htm) – which deals with issues surrounding contaminated land in the UK – I have a listing of locations of unexploded WW2 bombs in London.

    This was derived as follows – In response to a written Parliamentary Question from Simon Hughes, (Hansard vol 282, col 863 15th October 1996), Armed Forces Minister Nicholas Soames released a site listing of known German Unexploded Bombs (UXB’s) in the London area.

    This data was reprinted in the Evening Standard – Wednesday 20th November 1996 (and used by me with their permission), and was itself based on information supplied by the Ministry of Defence.

    I have just discovered the joys of Google Maps and now wish to geocode the data.

    The data is fairly primitive e.g. Stepney [A-Z map page 64] Baron’s pickle factory, Assembly Passage, Mile End Road.

    My question is fairly simple (hah hah) who is the owner of the copyright of this data – is it =>

    a) The Ministry of Defence (they supplied it)
    b) Hansard (they published the transcript of the Parliamentary Question)
    c) The Evening Standard (they reprinted the transcript)
    d) Me (I cleaned up the Evening Standard article and put it into a new format – with A to Z page numbers as a location device)



  33. Hi Micky,

    OK from your description the map is yours, you have not copied anything and it’s is the product of your interpretation of facts. You should not your sources as a matter of best practice and by using Google Map you give Google a license to reuse your map.


  34. Dear Ed

    Thanks very much for clarifying things, just one question – in the last sentence of your reply did you miss out the word [give] i.e.

    ..You should not [give] your sources as a matter of best practice..



  35. Ed,

    I having some difficulty following the thread, so I apologize if this has already been discussed, but I think that there are a number of issues that need to be analyzed in order to determine “ownership” in this instance. The first is the rights of the London borough in the location of the recycling centers. The second analsis is determining what rights Google is giving Ed with respect to its data and maps and what rights are being retained by Google. Similarly, the third issue is what rights does Ed give to Google in “his” data and what rights are being retained, (assuming that he has rights after the first analysis) The fourth is what rights does Ed (or Google) have in the new map in order to protect from improper use by third parties. Each of these involve the interplay of different legal issues, such as database law and copyright law.

  36. Micky: I think Ed meant “note” your sources.

    Ed: Rich’s comment (#35) is the one I’m attempting to address.

    Specifically, my claim is that since you can’t reproduce your work without the proprietary data — you can’t create the list of lon/lat markers that you did without the map data. As I understand it, the current legal thing is that using it like that is creating a derivative work, which means you don’t own the copyright to the data you created.

    If you could create the list without Google Maps, that would be one thing. But if you can’t, I can’t see how the geodata can belong to anyone other than Google.

  37. So is tracing features from the imagery of Google maps (without looking at any of the map features) allowed for OSM? Obviously Yahoo allows it, is there anything so different with Google’s imagery?

  38. It feels like the community should really challenge Google to step in and answer questions, versus sitting coyly behind the ambiguity of the situation. In the case of SEO and search logic, they have taken a much more involved role in “the conversation”.

    To me, it feels disingenuous of Google to be quiet on this subject – which is obviously a lightening rod for the community driving the scaled success of mash-up and innovation behavior on top of their infrastructure.

    Come on, Google, we know you’re watching, step in with a voice. There are things we know you can’t/won’t say, but to be this disconnected with the community creates nothing but FUD.

    Stop acting like IBM and Microsoft. Grow a pair.

  39. Ed,

    I understand that you regret that this thread is not about recycling centers anymore, but largely about the legal issue of derivative work. However the fact that it is should indicate to you the extremely high relevance of this issue to the public.

    If I read this thread, as well as other related threads on your blog, I guess that there is a persistent misundertanding about what it “tracing from Google Earth/Maps” and what is “a feature of the map”.

    Let me try to clarify it: When ppl talk about “tracing from Google Earth/Maps” then usually they DO NOT refer to tracing Google’s own “Map/Hybrid” data overlay”, i.e. the scalable vector graphic that Google put over the satellite images. What they mean is creating THEIR OWN vector data using Google Map’s pure satellite images (only the images, NOT the data overlay) to find accurate geo-coordinates, then classify these self created waypoints as a street, a shoreline, or a recycling center (etc.) from other data sources outside Google Maps/Earth, e.g. their own knowledge of the area.

    If I get you right, then in your opinion “a feature of Google’s map” is only what is in Google’s vector data overlay, but not what is just visible and identifiable (by own interpretation) from the satellite images!?!

    So if I further understand you right, then you would say that a new, original vector data overlay, that has been traced from Google Earth/Map’s pure satellite images PLUS e.g. personal knowledge of the area, but MINUS Google’s own data overlay is not a derivative work!?!

    That is good news. However – what Christopher Schmidt is trying to point out to you above is that – under many national laws and jurisdictions, maybe not the U.S., but most Europeans, it is very likely that the courts in fact will hold such a work as derivative from the satellite images.

    If Google doesn’t mind such tracing of the satellite images to create a new set of vector data overlay, being free of (potential) restrictions from Googles copyright, then it would really help if Google clarifies this. However i am afraid a “I, Ed Parsons, personally don’t consider this derivative work” would not do it. It needs to be a “We, Google Inc., legally don’t consider this derivative work”.

    Ed, here is another reason why this should be officially claryfied by Google Inc.:
    For example the Openstreetmap-Project forbids it’s contributers to trace from Google Earth/Maps’s satellite images (unless Google would permit it), because Openstreetmap does respect Google, their Terms of Use and honors their IP.
    However now there is at least one other project which recently started to do something similar to Openstreetmap, but tracing it completely from Google Map’s satellite images. As far it is publicly known, they do so without permission of Google; and by the way, unlike Openstreetmap, this project is not under an open lincense, but a properitary one. (I don’t want to mention the name, I guess you know which project I mean).
    So far Google seems to tolerate it. But this bears a uncomely signal in it:
    Those who respect Google’s (potential) IP will be ‘punished’, those who ignore it will be ‘rewarded’ (…by factually having a better tool, i.e. Googles satellite images).
    I think Google Inc. should not have an interest in sending out such a signal.
    Therefore I appeal to you – and assume that I can speak for many others – to push the legal management of Google to make an official legal statement, that such new geodata that has been created by the help of tracing from Google Map’s pure satellite images (but NOT from Google Maps’s own “Map/Hybrid” data overlay, of course!) is considered an original work of it’s creator, any potential IP (i.e. derivative work copyright) being waived, respectively licensed to the creator. (preferably limit this statement to work that is subsequently licensed under an open license, such as GPL, CC-SA, Open Data Commons Database Licence, and the like)

    I hope this post makes it a little bit more clear where we all are comming from.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year πŸ™‚

  40. Soeren,

    Sorry not to reply sooner, I lost track of his discussion. I really do understand where the OSM community is coming from, however there is I’m afraid no simple or definitive answer as to the rights in new geodata created using the tools provided by Google as it depends upon the tool itself, how Google has licensed the data from the original data owner etc.

    However I will make a few points that hopefully explain why this is complex.

    – There is at least in the minds of the majority of imagery providers a difference between using their imagery for a individual to capture discrete features (i.e the location of a recycling site) and large scale capture of base geodata, such a street networks. This is manifested by imagery providers having different licenses and payment terms for the capture of such base data sets.

    – Google is not in a position to allow users capture base data such as street networks because of these licensing restrictions, outside of specific applications such as MapMaker where licenses have been obtained specifically for particular areas.

    – So follow the OSM advice don’t trace street networks from Google Maps ! ( I understand Yahoo have provided the OSM project with an appropriate license to do this )

    – Any data that you can capture using your own knowledge of discrete features using any imagery for reference is OK, and yes this is open for further confusion and arguments over the definitions of base data/discrete features – but this is still one of those grey areas.


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