Google Maps Technology Thoughts

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 on “Whose map is it anyway..”

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.

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.

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?

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.

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. 🙂

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.)

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.

Ed (and everyone else)

On my website ( – 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)



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.


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..




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.

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