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”

Several telco’s in Australia were taken to court by the ACCC over the usage of “unlimited” and lost.

As a direct result “unlimited*” has all but disappeared, only things that are truly unlimited can be deemed unlimited.

However I didn’t get an answer to the same question, is 100 points a bulk download, is 1000, 1000000 etc. What does bulk downloading mean exactly, because you download via xml etc a lot of points on a lot of sites browsing them and having points appear on a map.

What about the case of kml files which are entirely downloaded to be viewed in an offline KML browser?

Ed I’ve been pondering over your comment how this is about OSM and that just isn’t true and in fact you are skewing things out of context, at least on some points.

One of the points of contention is if you use a gMaps API to collect information you then seem to be always locked into using gMaps API to display or show the information that was collected, otherwise you may fall foul of the derived information/bulk downloading issue. allows a large number of points to be downloaded at a time through their AR viewer, is this bulk downloading?
If it isn’t, what exactly is bulk downloading?


I think that is the key point, an application like wikitude is not allowing the bulk export i.e. downloading of data. The points are only accessible via their api within an application and then only a relatively small number of point.

An no you are free to collect points via the goggle maps api, there is not an issue with derived rights, the information collected is your IP.

Ed, but if I was collecting the information via gMpas it isn’t entirely my IP because I can’t just do what ever I like with it, I can’t publish an entire list in a magazine I can’t offer a KML file with all the points I can only serve a partial list online it would seem.


There is a difference between the IPR in data you create and the restrictions described by the Terms of Service (ToS).

The data you create is always yours, however there is a restriction in the ToS that prevent people using the service to extract large amounts of data for third party use.

Imagine going the science museum and talking photos of some of the exhibits, nobody would have an issue with this and the photos belong to you. The science museum would I imagine have a problem if you came along with a tripod and lights, and systematically photographed every exhibit over a period of weeks and then held a exhibition of your pictures in Kensington Gardens.

I would see no problem in KML files that describe specific walking rails, greenlanes etc made available to readers of a magazine, however creating a map of every road in the UK is very different.

Ed, we’re not talking about making maps of every road it’s blatently obvious that this is not an acceptable use.

What we are talking about is points of interest, like collects, and how that information can be redistributed.

Ed, I was trying to make an analogy over what they are doing, but the question comes back to what is bulk downloading, if they offered a KML file of all their locations is that ok or not?

Basically where is the line between bulk downloading and not bulk downloading?

That would be up to them, as it’s their data 🙂

No there is not a defined line above which extracting data is regarded as bulk. But you can infer that all the current apps using Google Maps are doing so within the terms of service, there is therefore a benchmark of sorts established.


From your description, if I use Google’s tiles and/or StreetView to collect data (let’s say by tracing the roads with satellite and naming my traces with the street layer) for all of the streets in my neighborhood, then post that somewhere online with a CC-BY-SA license. It’s my data, right?

Afterwords, someone in the city next to me does a Google search for my neighborhood, finds the data file, and adds their streets to the data file. Repeat ad infinitum.

Is that systematic (and thus against the ToU for Google)? At what point did it become systematic and not just regular people collecting their own data? When 3 people collected data? When the data was posted for public consumption? When they started building up a large data file?

(By the way, thanks for spending on this conversation. I think it’s at least an interesting topic, if not very important.)

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