Liberating your My Maps data

Richard in his post at the OpenGeoData blog, highlights the work of Google’s Data Liberation Front which aims to make sure that user data hosted on Google servers can always be exported out for use in other services or applications.

So what of Geodata, well contrary to popular opinion if you create a My Maps mash up you are just one click away from exporting your map data as a KML file;  just click on the link marked “View in Google Earth” and a KML file of your map is downloaded.

Richard asks if it is possible for Google to offer a “mass tracing” right similar to that offered to the Open Street Map Community by Yahoo. This I’m afraid Google cannot currently do as we don’t have the rights to offer this on a universal basis.

I hope this is a useful clarification, sorry I could not add a comment on the blog itself for some reason.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network

49 replies on “Liberating your My Maps data”


I don’t know the details but does wikitude,me allow people to export all the users contributions for use outside of their AR application, which i Love BTW !!

Ed, I was under the impression that releases their data under CC-by-SA, perhaps it was another similar service, but there is at least one service that does do this.

Back to wikitude for a second, what does bulk download mean exactly, 100 points at a time, 1000 points at a time, 1,000,000 points at a time?

Also why is there a non-commercial clause on the mapmaker data, google is obviously using it for commercial purposes or plans to, if I contribute to mapmaker why can’t I take my contributions and do what I like with them?

Apart from the discussion about rights I think there is a more direct issue for the Data Liberation guys in how data is exported from Google Maps. It comes out as a network link which means that the actual data cannot be saved onto a local drive unless:
– you’re prepared to tediously copy KML features one by one to the places column
– you’re techie enough to know how to grab the kml from the network link

An option allowing export as non network link as well as a network link would be much more open and, if I remember correctly, Google Maps used to only offer a none network link export.


Ok I accept the process could be a lot simpler, but if you are geek enough to want to to export your data to display it in a GIS application this would not be beyond you.

You would prefer direct to KML and shp ?

At one end of the spectrum you have “Google makes no claims over the ownership of your data”. At the other you have an absolute prohibition on “mass downloads or bulk feeds”.

So there’s a dividing line somewhere, between ‘standard’ mash-ups and mass downloads. The problem is that Google has never said where this line is.

This actually isn’t an OpenStreetMap-specific question. When I referred to the SoC Summer School in the OpenGeoData posting, I was attending the event for my employer (WW Magazines), not as an OSM contributor.

One of our magazines is a 4×4 off-road driving magazine, and without giving too much away, we’re thinking of doing some off-road webmapping with a small crowdsourcing element: click on this ford or this incline to rate it, that sort of thing. Should work brilliantly with aerial photography.

But I can’t recommend to our company that we do it with the Google Maps API, because there is so little clarity about what’s allowed and where the IP will lie. It might be ok with 50 fords. But 100? 1000? What happens if I want to take it out of Google Maps entirely, and mash it up with OSM vector data (and, ahem, here there may be some connection to the live renderer I’ve been working on)? OSM’s licence is ok with that (it’s a Collective Work), but I honestly couldn’t tell you if Google’s is. What if we want to use the information in the printed ‘roadbooks’ we feature in the magazine? We can’t print 10,000 magazines then pulp them due to a copyright infringement.

There is, as yet, no answer on this. That’s why the Moderator request says “Sort the legalities” – not simply “Give OpenStreetMap permission”.

That said:

I do think that you will do much, much better by opening it up fully, and no doubt so do the (quickly checks) 992 others who’ve voted for the request. Yahoo have benefited directly from the OSM arrangement, with a whole host of good, free maps for Flickr. Most OSMers I know would love Google to use some OSM data, and ODbL means that yes, we are getting our legal act in order. It would be great if you were to do the same!


Thanks for your thoughts, I appreciate your position but I don’t agree with a number of points you put forward.

Google makes no claim over the intellectual property contained within user contributions regardless of the size of those contributions from one point to a million.

There is at this time a restriction preventing people using Google Maps for bulk data capture as would be required for a project like OpenStreetMap. This would not prevent the application you mention or many of the other large projects which currently create new data.

There is a clear difference between collecting a few hundred km’s of green lanes or the locations of every Tescos store and capturing the 350,000 km of the UK road network for use outside of any Google property.

I really don’t see this as an issue of legal clarification, rather you don’t like the limitations of the current terms of service, specifically to be able to use the imagery licensed by Google to create large geospatial databases without restriction.

I’m really sorry this is not possible at the moment..

Ed you seem to be dodging our questions rather than answering them.

If Richard uses a Google map API to collect 1000000s of points and then decides to place these markers on printed maps using OSM tiles would this be an allowed use under current Google T&Cs?

Could he also print out the lat/lon of those points in his magazine as well?

And could you please answer my question about MapMaker, I’m not asking about the complete data set, just if I made any personal submissions.


No that sounds like bulk export of points to me.

Re MapMaker as I said in the original answer, we are just rolling out the export of mapping data from MapMaker and currently we have implemented export of the complete dataset for non-commerical or, personal use only ..

One clarification on the “View in Google Earth” link – if you use that and expect the file to contain the actual data of the My Map – it doesn’t. It’s simply a link to tell Google Earth where to download the data from the GMaps server (designed so GEarth picks up changes to the My Map automatically – a useful feature in itself)

How to get a KML file containing the actual data:

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