Why never use copyrighted maps as source. (clarified title)

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Re: Why not to use copyrighted maps as source. (clarified ti

Postby CBenson » Fri May 31, 2013 2:48 pm

See Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Serv. Co. Inc., 499 U.S. 340 (1991) cited earlier in the thread for the proposition that facts aren't protected by copyright in the US.
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Re: Why do people hate online maps?

Postby CBenson » Fri May 31, 2013 1:27 am

Just remember that US law doesn't apply to much of what waze does.
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Re: Why do people hate online maps?

Postby CBenson » Wed May 29, 2013 10:43 am

No significant map company is going to admit that they intentionally introduce inaccuracies into their maps. There are plenty of methods to include data in maps to show copying that are not misnames or mislabels. To demonstrate copyright infringement, it takes much more than a common misspelled road name on the maps.

However, as has been noted every map has inaccuracies whether intentional or not. Simply relying on a single source is not good practice. Even relying on a single street sign can be inaccurate. I have one street where only one street sign along the street is misspelled.
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Re: Why do people hate online maps?

Postby CBenson » Thu May 23, 2013 5:39 pm

victornpb wrote:I can use the Google Maps Aerial Only as a reference to draw the roads? since it's just a photograph, there's no geometry or names written, I'm not copying anything, right?

Do not copy the Google aerial maps as that is prohibited. Waze provides aerial images. To avoid problems, use the aerial images that Waze provides.
However, there is a real distinction between using Google only as a reference and copying. This is laid out in the documentation.
You can copy a photograph, so just because there's no geometry on names written on the aerial image doesn't mean you are not copying it. Using an automated means to extract and save data from the images is not using the images only as a reference. Overlaying the images on a map you are editing is not using the images only as a reference.
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Re: Why do people hate online maps?

Postby CBenson » Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:09 pm

Just so I understand correctly, you're planning to change the very page that waze personnel just changed in an attempt to clear up their policy for new editors?
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Re: Why do people hate online maps?

Postby CBenson » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:47 am

What I think most people think waze's stance is is the following statement found in the wiki:

"Those terms of use also apply to you. You cannot use Google's aerial images to edit Waze's maps. In some jurisdictions you may be able to use them as a reference (like looking at a map in a mapbook), but not as an overlay as with the Greasemonkey script Googze."

This is entirely consistent with my interpretation. If waze has a stance that "copyrighted materials such as Google should not be used" then they need to make it clearer.

Again, there are significant licensing and copyright issues here, if you are not positive what you are doing complies with the relevant law and terms of service, don't do it.
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Re: Why do people hate online maps?

Postby CBenson » Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:22 pm

Mapcat,
Let me first say that I am in general agreement with you statements and approach. There is no reason to use external copyrighted sources because there are public domain sources and the waze provided sources that can be used without risk. I totally agree that you shouldn't copy online maps such as Google and Mapquest.

I apologize for getting my hackles up when this issue is brought up. But it really bugs me to be told that it is illegal to use facts simply because I looked them up with Google. Its not illegal in the US. I also firmly believe the suggestion that I will be held liable for any copyright infringement in the US for using Google as a reference to be absurd. Ultimately I believe that it is dangerous for us think that Google should be able to control what I do with public domain information simply because Google becomes the most efficient way to access such information.

mapcat wrote:How do you use copyrighted sources to "establish" public domain facts? To me, "establish" here would mean "determine to be factual", and if you are looking at the work of two private map companies, there is no guarantee that anything on either or both is a fact. For all you know, one of them could be copying the other, so far without being caught. If you can't determine it to be factual, then don't put it on Waze's map.

Street names on a map intended to convey factual information is factual. It doesn't matter whether the street name is an error or not. The elements of the map that are presented as coming from the real world are factual. The elements of the map that are independent of the real world data are creative. Thus street names, street locations, location names, etc. are factual information. The blue color of the freeway, the width and outlining of the roads, the font of the lettering, the symbols to indicate the features are all creative elements.
Factual elements cannot be used to establish substantial similarity, regardless of whether they are true or not. In the US, copyright covers the expression of ideas not the ideas themselves. This extends to facts, you can copyright the expression of facts but not the fact itself. If the fact that is copied isn't true, that doesn't mean you are copying the expression of the untrue fact. You are just copying an untrue fact, which isn't covered by copyright in the US in the absence of copying the expression (i.e. the creative elements).

mapcat wrote:I would really like to see an example of something you wanted to edit that you didn't feel comfortable editing until you saw how Google portrayed it.

Here is how I typically edit.

I typically am addressing map problems and URs. In those instances, frequently, no information is required to address the issue that is not provided by waze (e.g. bing aerials, GPS tracks). However, if there an intersection that just doesn't make sense as I remember it I will open Google street view and Bing birds eye view to refresh my memory of the intersection.

When I am going over particular street or community to correct all the errors in a particular location, my goal is to identify all the errors in the map. In such a case, I will have the state highway location map open along with a slew of other maps (most, if not all covered by terms of sevice that I have read and that retain all the rights of copyright). What I am trying to do is identify discrepancies on the waze map. If I reach a side road that shows on the waze map as unknown direction, last edited on 12/31/1969, has no GPS traces and doesn't show on any of the other maps I delete it. If I reach a location that has GPS traces and no road on the map and a road shows on all the other maps, I will put the road on the map. If the sources differ on some fact like the name of the road, I will typically wait until I can verify what the sign says before making the change to the waze map. There are also plenty of instances where all the maps have the same wrong information, so my knowledge of the area is my primary guide.

mapcat wrote:Define "looks entirely different". Waze maps don't look anything like anyone else's in some ways, and are almost exactly like other maps in other regards. Likewise, their function is either very different or very similar depending on perspective and motive.

I'm using "looks entirely different" to mean has none of the same creative elements as discussed above.

mapcat wrote:Again, how you define "substantially similar" determines whether something inappropriate is going on. Since we're maintaining/enhancing a product we like, and want to be able to continue to use it, it's better to use a conservative definition IMO.

I very much respect your opinion and agree that taking a conservative approach is appropriate. I have no problem with the statement that waze editors should avoid using all map sources where the provider has not stated that they may be freely used and copied as there are licensing and copyright issues that may prohibit their use when working on the waze map.

mapcat wrote:Sorry, you lost me. This might make more sense if I understood your particular definition of "substantial similarity". To me, if something entirely of my own creation shows up in something published by someone else, in the exact same place, it's pretty obvious that there's a copyright infringement.
I hope that I addressed this above. Not every copy is a copyright infringement. The Easter egg merely establishes that copying has taken place, not that copyright infringement has taken place. Whatever "substantially similar" means, it requires something more than mere copying, as in the Feist case there was admitted copying, but no copyright infringement.

mapcat wrote: Maybe they copied it from a third map that had copied my work without my knowledge--in that case it's still no less of a copyright infringement.

I think what you are saying here is technically wrong. If I copy an unauthorized copy of an original copyrighted work, in the US my copy is not a copyright infringement of the original work. It would only be a copyright infringement of the unauthorized copy. In some cases this a legal distinction without a practical difference. If the unauthorized copy is a blatant copy used for commercial advantage it is quite likely in case involving me, the unauthorized copier and the original creator; part of the remedy for the original unauthorized copying would be to transfer the copyright in the unauthorized copy to the original creator. In this case, ultimately any damages for my copyright infringement would go to the original creator.
mapcat wrote:Since my Cecil Adams reference is too old for you, here's a more recent one, including a settlement:
Copying maps costs AA £20m

A couple of thing about the Ordnance Survey case. First and most important, this case is under British law. I have tried to consistently insert "in the US" to my statements here. British law seems to take a different approach on the sweat of the brow doctrine. Merely, showing that copying took place might have been enough in Britain as far as I know. Second, AA was accused of mechanically copying the entire map of certain areas. This was alleged to be shown by similarities such as "stylistic features and proportions - such as the width of roads in each drawing." My understanding is that the Ordnance Survey has consistently denied ever putting false or misleading information in a map to catch copyright infringers. In other words, this seems to me not to be a case about using the Ordnance Survey as a reference to determine the names of streets, but rather a case about wholesale copying of the map (including the creative or "stylistic" features).
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Re: Why do people hate online maps?

Postby CBenson » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:41 am

gettingthere wrote:
CBenson wrote:I would respectfully suggest that you get the advice from the attorney before so definitively stating what is illegal.


No need. I am not referring to any sources that have license agreements that prohibit me from using their material.


Nor am I and I quite frequently have Google and Mapquest open when I edit.
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Re: Why do people hate online maps?

Postby CBenson » Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:47 am

mapcat wrote:OK, then if you have access to other sources of street names, then why would you need Google's street names at all?!

Or were you implying that you could use multiple copyrighted sources and defend your actions if accused of stealing data by saying "I don't know if I copied your data or someone else's. I was using multiple sources, and only copied a few things from any one of them."

Yes. That is what I'm saying, if you are using copyrighted sources to establish public domain facts, then publishing those facts is not copyright infringement in the US.


mapcat wrote:You seem to be missing the point. If you create a map of Annapolis that calls the road in front of your house Benson Blvd, and you copyright it, you are not copyrighting something that is anyone's work but your own. And if another company creates a map that shows Benson Blvd there without asking for and receiving permission from you, then they are in violation of copyright. And if they use that map to make a profit, you will have every right to sue them and expect some sort of compensation.

I do not believe that this is true. If I create a map of Annapolis and someone else copies it, I can sue them (regardless of whether the copy is used to make a profit). However, if they create their own map that looks entirely different (except for the underlying public domain facts) and includes Benson Blvd, that's not likely copyright infringement. Copyright infringement in the US requires that to be a copy the other map has to be substantially similar to mine. The mere inclusion of Benson Blvd on an otherwise different (except for underlying public domain facts) is unlikely to rise to the required level of substantial similarity.
mapcat wrote:Edit: See what Cecil Adams has to say: Do maps have "copyright traps" to permit detection of unauthorized copies?

Yes, Easter eggs exist in data compilations. Let's take the hypothetical example above where someone else copies my map with the fictional Benson Blvd. If they independently create a map that looks just like mine, it is not copyright infringement. So when I try to sue them, their first defense is likely to be "Oh I never saw your map before in my life, so I couldn't have copied it." If I can't show that they actually saw my map, I can't prove copyright infringement. That's where the Easter egg comes in. If my fictional Benson Blvd is on their map, it proves that they actually did have access to my particular map. This showing of access to my map through the inclusion of Benson Blvd plus substantial similarity should be enough to prove copyright infringement. The use of Benson Blvd without substantial similarity would not be enough to prove copyright infringement as there would be no copy of my map.

Note that the Adams posting simply notes the existence of "copyright traps" or what I've been calling Easter eggs. Nowhere does he say that the mere inclusion of an Easter egg in another work makes that work a copy. If fact he cites to no cases where "copyright traps" have successfully been used in a copyright case. If there was such a case, he would have simply cited to it to show how effective Easter eggs are and there would have been no need for the rest of the discussion about whether they exist or not. Also, note that all the major map makers vigorously deny that they include Easter eggs in their products. This is because their reputation for accuracy is more valuable than the very dubious protection that inclusion of Easter eggs in their product provides. Intentional errors are simply not very useful tools in copyright cases.

There is a difference between copying a map and using online maps as references to learn public domain street names and locations. Copying is a requirement for copyright infringement.

EDIT: I just noticed that the Adams posting is dated 1991. Easter eggs likely made more sense prior to 1991. The US Supreme Court decision in Feist v. Rural Telephone that established that the sweat of the brow doctrine doesn't apply in US copyright law was decided in 1991.
Last edited by CBenson on Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Why do people hate online maps?

Postby CBenson » Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:57 am

mapcat wrote:
dmcconachie wrote:It's not the use of street names etc that is illegal, it's the use of Google to create a derived work!

This.

Because how do you know that the street name you see on their map is correct? They do purposely give a small number of streets the wrong name, making it easy for them to discover anyone using their data.

You do research using multiple sources so that you are not copying any particular work.

Using street names you find on an online map to make a map is not creating a derivative work in the U.S. In the U.S., copyright infringement requires that you appropriate the copyright holder's creative work. The street names are not map maker's. Using them is not a derivative work of the mapmaker's work in the US. The US copyright law does not include a broad sweat of the brow doctrine. That is the effort and expense of gathering facts is not generally protected by copyright in the US. Thus, you can take the actual phone numbers from the phone book and publish them on your own and in the US it is not an infringement of the copyright of the author of the phone book. I believe that this also true in Israel.

gettingthere wrote:So they are actually spending money and creating this stuff. Waze should not get a free pass to use this data without permission (including the community mappers that are 'working' on behalf of Waze).

That simply does not make it a copyright infringement in the US. The map provider might argue misappropriation under state law. But such claims are likely preempted by Federal copyright law and usually only apply to time sensitive information.

gettingthere wrote:Likely none of us are attorneys. I suggest you have an attorney review their license agreements to see if you can use the street name data. If they say yes, post a copy of their written details here so we can all benefit from their interpretation.

I would respectfully suggest that you get the advice from the attorney before so definitively stating what is illegal.
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