General Question

grntwlkr's avatar

Is it a copyright infringement to make a map based on another map?

Asked by grntwlkr (179points) February 12th, 2010

I want to make a vector based map of a city for business purposes, and maybe even to sell. Is it a copyright infringement to use another map (importing a pdf of said map into illustrator to find locations of roads and places, and then basically tracing over it on a new layer. in the end deleting the pdf of the old map) to create my own map with a different visual style. My new map will have different line weights colors, ext from the original. The map I want to use is from a county government gis map.

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14 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

Totally legal. Don’t worry about it.

grumpyfish's avatar

(1) Most government information is public domain, check their website to find out.
(2) While the design of the map can be copyrighted, it’s difficult to copyright the content of a map (it’s essentially a list of information without “creative spark”)

buckyboy28's avatar

~You need to go outside with a compass and sketch your own. Rand McNally will sue you into the ground.

grumpyfish's avatar

@buckyboy28 Chains and a lot of volunteers is the more traditional way =)

AstroChuck's avatar

I disagree. I’ve read about lawsuits siting copyright infringement over this very thing. In fact this activity has become so popular in the past that many map makers have been known to insert faux street names, landmarks, etc. in order to show just cause for lawsuits.

mrentropy's avatar

@AstroChuck I’ve heard that, too. In fact, here’s a Straight Dope article about it.

jrpowell's avatar

@AstroChuck :: “The map I want to use is from a county government gis map.” <—That line is key.

grumpyfish's avatar

@AstroChuck True, perhaps my 2nd line is incorrect. My first one is correct, assuming the county releases its GIS data as public domain.

And the straight dope is specifically talking about reproducing the map itself, and not just its content.

AstroChuck's avatar

Apologies. I need to read more carefully. My understanding is that GIS information is indeed in the public domain.

jrpowell's avatar

Blame the iphone.

AstroChuck's avatar

Goddamn iPhone.

jrpowell's avatar

well played postman

anartist's avatar

The CIA used to offer maps like this for free on their website and through some university libraries. This world map is dated 2005 and will become dated as the world changes. The Kazahkstan map and US map are from 1999. All three maps are editable in Adobe Illustrator.
Feel free to download them.

anartist's avatar

Some editablePDF format DoT, USGS, and CIA maps are still available at University of Texas’ Perry Casteneda Map Library, including some with streets [DoT state maps].

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