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NYC & SF iPod Subway Map Controversy 361

Posted by Zonk
from the free-as-in-beer dept.
scruffy323 writes "NYC and San Francisco are claiming copyright violations for freely distributed subway maps." From the Wired piece: "More than 9,000 people downloaded the map, which was viewable on either an iPod or an iPod nano, before Bright received a Sept. 14 letter from Lester Freundlich, a senior associate counsel at New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority, saying that Bright had infringed the MTA's copyright and that he needed a license to post the map and to authorize others to download it."
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NYC & SF iPod Subway Map Controversy

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  • Feh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:29AM (#13692424)
    Man redistributes copyright material without permission.
    That's not actually a controversy.
    • by hattig (47930)
      Will they give him permission if he asks them?

      Maybe he should just draw his own.
      • They will, but for $500 per year for the license.
      • Re:Feh (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Maybe he should just draw his own.
        That's exactly what he should do.
      • Re:Feh (Score:3, Interesting)

        by justin12345 (846440)
        It would be nice if he did draw his own. It would be even nicer if he drew one that was accurate to the actual geography of NYC. The mta maps are grossly distorted, making it difficult to use them to do things like say... choose the subway line closest to a given location.

        The MTA has this little problem with confusing the concepts: ""art" [nycsubway.org] and "map" [columbia.edu].
        • Re:Feh (Score:4, Informative)

          by _Ludwig (86077) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @05:47PM (#13694929) Journal
          They're not "grossly distorted," they're distorted for clarity. If they weren't, they'd have to either be about six times bigger to cover the distant lands of Queens and Staten Island (which shouldn't be on the subway map to begin with since it has its own system, disconnected from the rest) or all the stations in midtown Manhattan would have to be smooshed together in overlapping 3-point type. The NYC subway map is famously considered to be a usable balance between legibility and actual geography, unlike for instance the London tube map, which blows off geography altogether.

          What they should do is dump the ill-advised redesign of a few years ago (the one that introduced the pointless yellow background, the clutter of useless bus stop connection lists, and Staten Island.)

    • Re:Feh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jmichaelg (148257) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @09:43AM (#13692909) Journal
      The problem is that the material is copyrighted at all. The map is public information created by a public agency for public dissemination. This case is an example of public agencies wasting public resources.

      The only beneficiary of copyright in this instance is some petty bureaucrat who can claim his/her job is important to the public weal. The public "servant's" next step will be to ask for an increase in funding so he can hire his/her wife/husband/son/daughter/nephew/... to reformat the maps to meet this new "public demand" for public information.

      I feh on your feh and whomever ordered the cease and desist to be written in the first place.
      • Re:Feh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mypalmike (454265) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @11:43AM (#13693430) Homepage
        I can only assume the reason they care is that they get income from licencing fees for publication in the private sector. Like, when Frommers publishes "Ney York City on just $500 a day", it will contain licensed copies of subway maps, etc. So, when this stuff is published without license, there is a potential loss of income as demand for licensed product declines. These licensing fees actually decrease the tax burden on you.
        • Re:Feh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by afidel (530433) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:35PM (#13693891)
          No, they merely shift the tax burden from one place to another. Artificially locking public information up so that it can be resold by a private entity is just wrong. It's like when governments spend huge amounts of money to make GIS maps and then only provide them under expensive licenses, you've already paid to have the data collected and consolidated, why should you be double taxed if you actually want to access the information? Just because there are people with the means to buy the information under expensive licenses does not mean that the government should make it standard practice to double tax anyone who wants to actually use the output of the information retrieval and consolidation process that they have already paid for. Down that path lies much less transparant government, which is never a good thing.
  • by mrjb (547783) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:30AM (#13692428)
    Technically the subway co. of NY city are right. It *is* copyright infringement and the map *was* distributed without their permission.

    That said, in practice the NYC subway co. already made the map available to the general public, so it's not like there are any losses or damages as a result of this. In fact making the map available on IPod might actually increase the number of subway users. This rises the question, "what's the problem?" Conclusion: NYC subway co., get a life.
    • by oncehour (744756) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:49AM (#13692479)
      Once again, it's a case of corporations trying to protect the status quo, more than it is of an actual individual problem occuring with this instance. To not kneejerk at this instance would be to have it thrown into their face if someone else stole their intellectual property. Additionally, if the maps were released to a widespread audience freely for a significant amount of time, any hope at commercial opportunities for using the map would have pretty well been destroyed. It may not be a likely scenario, but an example of the logic that could have lead to this.

      Personally, I believe maps should have their own subsection within Intellectual Property laws. People do need an incentive to make them generally, but with aerial photographs, this is getting easier and easier as time goes on. Blueprinted building and track ways makes this even more trivial, and once you get down to it, a map is just a graphical representation of the factual geography of a location. I believe the subway company could do better to just pick up a few advertising contracts, brand the maps with advertising, and release under the Creative Commons.

      However, based on the current corporate mindset around adapting to technology and kneejerk reactions to the words "file-sharing" this sort of idea is probably long off.
      • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @10:38AM (#13693129)
        While this is all nice, the MTA isn't a corporation in the usual sense at all. It is a city government agency, subsidized and funded by the city of New York. This map was already created with taxpayer dollars. City agencies have a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of their city, not to shareholders, and aim to make profits only to the extent that they should avoid inflicting unnecessary taxes on their citizens through waste or inefficiency.

        This doesn't make any sense because making the map available to people in another format is a public good being performed by a private citizen. The MTA is actually hurting citizens of New York by imposing this undue burden on this fellow. There is really no defense for such behavior.
    • I think they have to be seen protecting their "Intellectual Property" in case someone else borrows the image and starts printing t-shirts, or using them for some other money-making purpose. You can buy everything from t-shirts to tea-towels with the London underground map embossed, and many tourists do, so I guess it's a bit of a cash cow.

      That said it's ridiculous that tourist guides, free maps, and free-to-view billboards can carry the image, yet I can't load it onto an iPod. The first thing I do in a
    • "it's not like there are any losses or damages as a result of this"

      ah, but what if the NYC MTA (the metropolitan transit authority) licenses use of the subway map image to 3rd party organizations, such as travel books, t-shirt vendors, etc? btw, I think there's also a trademark issue here, and not just copyright.

    • by CptTripps (196901) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @07:31AM (#13692551) Homepage
      That was my thought too...it's not like they are SELLING the maps. I'd venture a guess that only about 5%-10% of the people that rids that system every day have an iPod, and lets say 5% of them have the map...are they REALLY loosing anything?

      To the Subway iPod thingy Programmer: Shame on you for not asking first...but nice job

      To the Subway People: Shame on you for being this petty.

      To the Subway Restaurants: I'll take a Cold-Cut Combo with Lettuce, Green Peppers, Black Olives, and Salt & Pepper.
    • Technically the subway co. of NY city are right. It *is* copyright infringement and the map *was* distributed without their permission.

      Hold on a second. How are the subways funded? Doesn't large part of the MTA's budget come from city taxes? There is a reason the map is available at no cost - we have already paid for it.

      • Doesn't large part of the MTA's budget come from city taxes? There is a reason the map is available at no cost - we have already paid for it.

        In that case, I think you paid for the creation of said map and should be able to do anything you want with it. Print it on bags without a license, sell it on the corner street, change it however you like, publish it on your website.

        A company should either make it on their own, or give up some of their priviledges when the government funds them. But then again, t
      • It's interesting you ask. Works created by federal government employees during the course of their official duties are not copyright-able. The same may or may not hold for state or local governments.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What exactly are they claiming copyright on?

      You can not copyright factual information. See eg Feist v Rural Telephone where the US Supreme Court ruled that lists of numbers in a phone book was not copyrightable.

      The names of the subway stations, their geographic locations, and the fact that rail lines connect them, are all facts which are not copyrightable. So I'm wondering just what in this image is subject to copyright.

      If you make a map and add something to it, you can claim copyright. Like say you made
      • And that's why he wasn't sent a cease and desist when he made his own map using the facts. From the article:

        I'm very aware that they are copyright violations, but I'm not trying to make money or do anything malicious. I'm not in this to piss people off.

        I'd say this guy knew he was breaking the law, which is why he didn't kick up a stink. Everyone is actually acting fairly amicably in this situation (based on my impression from the article anyway).
      • by 1u3hr (530656) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:42PM (#13693929)
        You can not copyright factual information. See eg Feist v Rural Telephone where the US Supreme Court ruled that lists of numbers in a phone book was not copyrightable.

        The map in question is highly stylised, and not to scale. That makes it copyrightable.

    • Was the map that was distributed an actual scaled down copy of the actual map this group was publishing, or was it an interpretation of the map? I can see them having a problem with distributing a copy of their map, but if it's merely a new drawing of the same map, then it probably falls into the "public knowledge" domain. You can copywrite a drawing, but you cannot claim copyright over all new drawings of the same item you drew. At least not when it's a publicly accessible thing such as a transit system
  • ok... some guy provides copyrighted material so it can be used with iPods... in what way is this an apple story? Should a story be posted everytime someone releases an mp3 of a copyrighted song because it can be used on an iPod?
    • RTFA (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ThatsNotFunny (775189)
      He formatted the maps to be read on an iPod.
      The maps are not formatted for any other mp3 player.
      Apple makes the iPod.
      Therefore, this is an Apple story.
  • by daern (526012) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:32AM (#13692433)
    Funnily enough, the people who own the rights to the London Underground map, which is arguably one of the world's best recognised maps, also protect it fiercely, so I'd be surprised if another cease and desist letter wasn't in the post as we speak...
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:32AM (#13692435)
    I guess the city makes an ass load of money off those maps? :)
    • Maybe this is more of an issue to the company that has a contract to print the maps? Less maps needed, fewer maps to print...
      • by plnrtrvlr (557800) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @07:51AM (#13692594)
        Here's where I wish I had mod points... always seem to have them when I can't find anything to mod, never when I want to. You're probably closer to the truth than you know on this. It would seem that the cities in question would applaud something like this: someone else helping them to distribute a map that normally costs them money to distibute themselves. Hoever, if you "follow the money" it's probably the printer/publisher of the subway maps that is behind the complaint. Those people aren't in the least bit interested in providing a service to the people who use the subway, they just wnt to charge the city as much money as they can. A few phone calls to the right people and next thing you know we have another stupid copyright infringement issue. This isn't so much an issue with copyright law as it is an issue to take up with the city council: they need to be pressured to make this into a freely distributable service since the taxpayers ultimately pay for it anyways.
  • The map has a perfectly clear copyright claim in the bottom left hand corner - what was Mr Bright thinking? Their notice is even clearer then his "iPodSubwayMaps.com is ©2005 Little Bill Productions"
  • Sue away! (Score:2, Informative)

    by DaFunker (898185)
    I'm not quite sure that owning a map of a subway system really takes away from people actually riding it, which I would hope would be the goal of subway operators. Kind of like because I own a Rand McNally atlas of the United States I never have to leave home. I can just go on fantastic voyages via my collection of pretty maps. You'd think the subway system management would realize that people having easy to access maps of their subway would actually help their passengers and probably increase their numb
    • Re:Sue away! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      There are reasons to protect with copyright other than preserving profit.

      Perhaps the transit authority wants to make sure that all sources of the information are kept up to date. If they let anyone distribute it they can't be sure people will have an up to date map. If they insist people licence it then at least they can control this.

      There are other potential problems as well. They simply avoid any issues by clamping down on all copying with no exceptions.
      • There are reasons to protect with copyright other than preserving profit.

        But aren't really applicable in this situation. Some choice quotes:

        The financially strapped MTA

        MTA has begun registering its colorful route symbols as trademarks and has sent more than 30 cease-and-desist letters to businesses

        MTA has a licensing department

        Not that I'm saying MTA is in the wrong, merely saying their concern IS monetary. There doesn't appear to be any controversy. Bright knew he was breaking the law, MTA sen

  • I grew up in NYC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vengeance (46019) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:41AM (#13692461)
    Subway maps were very difficult to get. Technically they were free and available, but you had to be damned lucky to find a token booth clerk who actually had any in the booth.

    A downloadable map makes a world of sense, and frankly I cannot understand just WHAT about a subway system map needs copyright protection? Is there some subway map counterfeiting operation out there? Does the system stand to lose ridership and money as a consequence of people being able to find their way around?

    In summary, I consider this lawsuit to be insane and unnecessary. Noone but the lawyers will benefi.. Oh, yes, that's right.
    • Re:I grew up in NYC (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BushCheney08 (917605)
      I would imagine that they don't want to be held liable in case the maps are wrong or out of date or something. Technically, it's a copyright violation. OTOH, it's free publicity for them and a convenience to their riders. Totally a situation of which way the wind is blowing today.
    • Re:I grew up in NYC (Score:3, Informative)

      by aussie_a (778472)
      In summary, I consider this lawsuit to be insane and unnecessary.

      There was no law-suit. A cease and desist was issued to Bright, he complied. He then went and made his own map that he uploaded under the CC license, he hasn't been sent a new cease and desist for that map. MTA is broke, it's recently begun trademarking its symbols and issuing licenses to use them. They couldn't allow Bright to continue and still have their trademark be valid.
    • Re:I grew up in NYC (Score:3, Informative)

      by gowen (141411)
      A downloadable map makes a world of sense
      Doesn't it just. That's probably why THE MTA ALREADY PROVIDES ONE [nyc.ny.us]. I found this one by typing "NY Subway Map" into google and hitting "I feel lucky".
    • The copyright is necessary as an incentive to produce subway maps in the first place.
  • by The Slashdotted (665535) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:46AM (#13692474)
    Bright also used a map that became outdated when the BART system extended one of its lines and shortened another, said Jim Allison, a spokesman for BART. "We don't have a problem with people disseminating information about BART," Allison said. "We do have a problem with people pirating information that is incorrect," he said. The spokesman added that BART is preparing to unveil its own free, downloadable iPod map on its website. So they don't want wrong info, and they will provide their own info for FREE soon. They need to protect their trademark for it to be valid. Why is this a problem? It does not "search for a station". It is a resized JPG. NeXT thing you know Apple will go after him for a "Ipod map"
    • So they don't want wrong info, and they will provide their own info for FREE soon.

      Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the definition of 'soon' when used by a public utility/agency/department. Soon, to such an entity, means "maybe one day."

      Until they have a current map that is actually available, they've got no business bitchin about out-of-date maps.

      They need to protect their trademark for it to be valid.

      Uh, yeah, sure, whatever. Quit smoking the glue, ok?
      • Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the definition of 'soon' when used by a public utility/agency/department. Soon, to such an entity, means "maybe one day."

        Well I suppose we could wait a day for the map...
  • Shameless plug (Score:2, Interesting)

    If you want to find your way in the NYC Subway, you can download a legal subway guide for your mobile phone or BlackBerry from my website [clocklabs.com]. It does not use the official subway map.

    Regards
  • Reading the www.ipodsubwaymaps.com it seems that New York MTA are offering a 1 year licence for $500, which seems fairly reasonable to me. I mean it still seems a bit silly, especially as a) MTA are offering the map to download anyway and b) no other metro service is complaining, but it's not like they're demanding some ridiculous per download licence or the like.
  • by joshiz (684675) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:58AM (#13692493)
    While there is a separate private company formed for the NY subway, it still is a quasi-public agency, subsidised (at least in part) by taxpayers through various taxes on fuel, sales, property, etc. Simply by letting anyone into the Metro system (whether they pay a fare and use a train or not), they are agreeing it is a publicly available sysetem. With that in mind, the maps are subject to being copied under "fair use" criteria. If someone was using them to profit, to attack the subway system, or any other use that would be harmful -- then I could understand an argument against such a use, but in this case, they are being used for the same reason as their original intent -- so people can find and plan where they are going.

    I would argue if complete systemwide paper maps were available for free on every train, then there would be no need for people to download them for use on their iPod. Or, better yet, if the NY Transit Authority made the maps available for download then it wouldn't be a problem either. In SF there is a fully downloadable hi-res pdf of the entire MUNI map so how can they argue what platform you are using it on?

    As far as the London Journey Planner (as it is called there), I could understand their defense because they have spent million of dollars and countless person-hours developing that map, the typeface, the signs that go in the trains, etc. Certain elements were invented by that very London Underground map and while they may seem obvious to us now, before that, most transport systems did not have an adequate graphical language for representing their systems until the London Journey Planner came to be. With that in mind, the London Transit Authority could sue every major city in the world for copyright infringement so I think this really has no merit.

    If something is working for the greater good and works, it becomes very hard to stake a claim for it and win. We shall see.

    • "a quasi-public agency"

      Bingo. When public ifrastructure services are relegated to market driven private interests, some degree of public ownership rights must be maintained. If the subway owners want to sell private property, they should do so in the private domain, on their own and without tax funded investment.

    • "Or, better yet, if the NY Transit Authority made the maps available for download then it wouldn't be a problem either."

      The map is available, linked in the text of the summary above. Maybe RTFA is too much to ask, but how about reading the summary?

  • by layer3switch (783864) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @06:59AM (#13692498)
    I live in NYC and do not like MTA at all. However I have to agree with MTA here.
    (hint* pay extra attention to the last part.)

    from http://www.mta.info/sitehtml/mtacopy.htm [mta.info]

    No part of this program, product, software, or item, including the look or feel of the program, product, software, or item may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including the use of information storage and retrieval systems, without the express written permission of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (or other appropriate corporate entity). This prohibition against unlawful or unauthorized reproduction is intended to include all U.S. domestic use as well as protections afforded under any international forum or law, including, but not limited to G.A.T.T.

    Each individual document published by MTA on the World Wide Web may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that individual document.

    Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel or otherwise any license or right under any patent or trademark of MTA or any third party. Except as expressly provided above nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any MTA copyright.

    Note that any product, process, or technology in this document may be the subject of other intellectual property rights reserved by MTA, and may not be licensed hereunder.

    This publication is provided "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR NON-INFRINGEMENT.

    Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of implied warranties, so the above exclusion may not apply to you.

    Any MTA publication may include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes may be periodically made to these publications; these changes will be incorporated in new editions of these publications. The MTA may make improvements and/or changes in the products and/or the programs described in these publications at any time without notice.

    Should any viewer of an MTA published document respond with information including feedback data, such as questions, comments, suggestions, or the like regarding the content of any such MTA document, such information shall be deemed to be non-confidential and MTA shall have no obligation of any kind with respect to such information and shall be free to reproduce, use, disclose and distribute the information to others without limitation. Further, The MTA shall free to use any ideas, concepts, know-how or techniques contained in such information for any purpose whatsoever including but not limited to developing, manufacturing and marketing products incorporating such information.
    --------

    In short, I think, all he had to do was just post his subway map as his suggestion and it could have easily bypassed this whole mess.

    Since he seems to placed himself as sole publisher of this "unique" map as in claiming the map as "his own", he just opened himself with can of worm. Follow this;

    from http://www.ipodsubwaymaps.com/about.php [ipodsubwaymaps.com]

    So what's this all about?

    Simply put, I decided that it'd be pretty cool to build this website so you can put subway maps onto your iPod Photo. As I write this, I've only got one city up so far -- well, almost. I skipped Staten Island. Do people actually ride that subway?

    Eventually I'd like to open the site up to allow other visitors to submit their own maps. One step at a time, though. ...

    Is this all just some blatant self-promotion?

    Is all of it? Of course not. Is some of it? Sure! I really thought the idea of putting my subway map onto my iPod was cool. Why should I keep it all to myself? If it's helpful to me, then why not to the rest of you?
    ------

    All he had to do
    • A nice map is available at:

      http://www.mta.info/nyct/maps/submap.htm [mta.info]

      To get around this, just write a script that goes to a meta server to get the current URL, downloads the jpg, then converts it to whatever you wan on your ipod.

      This is what crossover office does for downloading wordviewer plugins and MS fonts from MS for use on your linux box. They let MS do the distribution, but make installation stupid easy. All appears legal, as you have do download the content that is alread freely available for anyone
  • Can somebody give me some insight into why people feel the need to immediately scream copyright violation and put and end to a cool thing like this? What possible reason or scenario could the subway be harmed in this situation? It just baffles my mind that someboy is getting paid to spend time to fight a fight that is so absolutely unneccesary.

    This brings to mind a similar situation where the current owner of the old GI JOE cartoon series placed a cease and desist on an incredibly creative guy who redubbe
    • The problem is -- if you have someone who does bad things with your copyright (for those without an imagination -- imagine GI Joe bootlegs being distributed w/ redubbed language to make it suggest that Americans victimize some racial groups), and you don't try to have them shut down (or to pay you a licensing fee), then you weaken your case for any issues that might come up in the future.

      So, even though one instance might not seem worth worrying about, the next one might. If you get the person to pay a tok
      • ...if you have someone who does bad things with your copyright ..., and you don't try to have them shut down (or to pay you a licensing fee), then you weaken your case for any issues that might come up in the future.

        I keep hearing/reading this as an argument for this kind of absurd protectionism. It's based on the idea that a company establishes precedent by ignoring a copyright violation. But by enforcing copyright in a clearly inappropriate situation does not a company also demonstrate that it is a po
      • Copyright isn't weakened if you don't take action against someone violating it. Trademarks need to be defended in order to be retained but copyrights do not.
  • Article (Score:2, Informative)

    by dorkygeek (898295)
    New York MTA - Cease and Desist

    January 01, 2005 -- 03:25 PM

    To: iPod Subway Maps Submissions
    Subject: ipodsubwaymaps fedback: your unauthorized use and coying [SIC] of NYC subway map
    Date: 9/14/05: 12:52 PM

    We have no record of you having a license to include MTA's copyrighted New York City subway map on your website, or for you to authorize others to download a copy of the subway map.

    You must cease and desist immediately. Take the NYC subway map off your webiste and confirm to me by email that you will not do
  • by Pecisk (688001) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @07:02AM (#13692506)
    Problem I guess there is that subway co. should protect this info that way that they allow to distribute it - BUT it comes exactly from them, so there is correct information all over the place. Sometimes copyright protection is used for such simply reasons - not for money.
  • Freundlich (Score:3, Funny)

    by Einherjer (569603) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @07:02AM (#13692508) Homepage
    funny thing is that "Freundlich" in German means something along the way of "friendly","cordial","pleasant" :-)
  • Public information should not be made public... unless you pay a license fee.

    This is crazy, so it's a license for their own design,, not others... But how are other's suppossed to make subway maps unless using official information that should be made public anyway?
  • by sofakingon (610999) * on Saturday October 01, 2005 @07:30AM (#13692549)
    Last time I checked, works created by a United States government agency are public domain at the moment of creation. Does this not count for city/county/state governments? I'm a Federal contractor and all of the work that I do belongs to the Federal Government. Is there something I'm missing?
    • Federal copyright law only puts the works of employees of the federal government (not contractors) in the public domain.
      • Actually, that depends upon the terms of the contract. A work for hire is a work for hire: if the contract specifies that all of a contractor's IP resulting from contract work is government IP, then copyright is not applicable (it's in the public domain). If the contract specifies something else, it usually gives a certain grant of rights to the contractor. And no, the Constitutional article that defines copyright only exempts works of the federal government, not states and cities. (Not sure why postage sta
        • U.S. Postage is not copyrightable by itself, but the USPS does contract out designs to private artists, sometimes duplicating prior art that was not done specifically for the Post Office. They usually get a "license" to publish the artwork as a stamp, but they don't get subsequent "licenses" to redistribute the image elsewhere, so if you want to get a license to redistribut the stamp image you need to contact the original creator of the artwork.

          Confusing? Yes, it it. The Post Office in this case is not c
  • any of the more than 9,000 people who downloaded the NYC and SFC maps care to share?

    thor
  • Hopefully, NYC is simply doing what it needs to do to protect its legal rights over the map. These cease-and-desist letters and fees are not always about screwing the little guy - sometimes they are about making sure you don't lose your own rights in the eyes of the law.

    The real but relatively inconsequential fee of $500 might offer NYC some protection.

    And therefore, hopefully the $500 will be reimbursed by Bloomburg or some high level MTA official - as a private citizen who knows that this is a neat, inno
  • Somebody / thing paid lots of money to research and develop the tube map. Its clearly something that people find so useful that its priceless (like water not diamonds). They need compensation for their works, but how much?

    Is there a copyright equivalent to compulsery purchase orders? In the UK, if something big is happening, and your house is in the middle of where they want to put it, you can be issued with a compulsery purchase order. An independant commision examines the value of your property and your l
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Saturday October 01, 2005 @08:15AM (#13692650) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if the MTA can own a copyright? Federal government can not. I think MTA is a regional government organization...

    While the rendering of the map might be copyrightable, the information about the routes is not. He should have someone else render a map.

    Bruce

  • For the love of... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dreamland (212064)
    So this guy creates a web site, and puts copyrighted images on it. For good measure he then plasters the site with Google ads to make money off it. (Or maybe that was his intention from the get-go?) Then he complains when the copyright holder wants him to remove the copyrighted images for which he has no license from his ad-driven web site? Right...
  • Any work produced by the US Government can't be copyrighted:
    http://www.cendi.gov/publications/04-8copyright.ht ml#toc30 [cendi.gov]

    I don't know about state or local agencies like the transit authorities, but it would seem to make sense that they shouldn't be allowed to copyright their materials either. The same principle is at stake. The taxpayers pay for the creation of the work so the taxpayers should share ownership.
    • Some states, notably California, have also placed all of its content into the public domain. Most other states, however, don't have a state policy and most state agencies "claim" copyright on all materials that are generated by state employees. State universities are particularly awful at this issue and will claim copyright on just about everything, including submitted homework (i.e. if you write a term paper or a piece of software as a class assignment, the university claims ownership on the stuff that y
      • I forgot to add this point: BART is not a state agency, so this California law doesn't apply. BART (Bay-area Rapid Transit) is a private for-profit company that just happens to get a bunch of tax dollars and acts like a government, so for copyright purposes it can claim copyright status on all of the things it generates, including maps of its system. Kinda stinks, doesn't it.
  • The reason that they sued was because he was making money off of these maps! He admitted in an interview that he has google adsense and that he was getting in money as a result! I don't think they would've minded as much if he was not making money off of it.
  • Distribute it on the darknet with MTA credit. For ease of my own downloading, please include in its name "MTA NYC Subway Map". What is someone going to do, reverse-engineer it and make a different map saying the same thing?

    Tell MTA to STFU because all these maps do is encourage people to use mass transit.
  • to see that they haven't removed the world trade center from the map yet.
  • Well, if the maps are copyright material of the subway, couldn't a script be made, using imagemagick, that could "automatically" crop the image in the requires areas? Granted I never made such a script, but it could even go so far to automatically download the image from the official web site, modify it as needed, and put it into a certain directory. I don't see why this wouldn't be possible, but this sure would stop the problems with copyright stuff if this works.
  • by voss (52565) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @10:34AM (#13693114)
    Anyone else have a problem with this?

    Im surprised the first amendment hasnt been invoked
    on this. The first amendment clearly supersedes copyright
    in the case of publications of a government owned entity.

    Allowing the government to copyright government documents
    would make the public records laws meaningless because you
    couldnt disseminate them yourself.

    Now the government could say "You are not allowed to sell government
    publications for profit, but you may freely distribute them and recoup
    the cost of publication." under the commerce clause.

    We are not talking about a patent or an individuals copyright we are talking
    about a government publication made freely available to anyone who asks
    simply being redistributed in a more convenient form by a private citizen.

    • Im surprised the first amendment hasnt been invoked on this. The first amendment clearly supersedes copyright in the case of publications of a government owned entity.

      YHGMTPOT 1st ammendment.

      There is indeed tension between copyright and freedom of speech. But since both are present in the constitution, it is up to the courts to achieve a balance. Which, for the most part, they have. Your free-speech rights simply do not include publication of works whose copyright belong to someone else.

      You are actua

  • Are they kidding? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by localman (111171) on Saturday October 01, 2005 @01:21PM (#13693843) Homepage
    I understand corporations are idiots. And I understand that defending intelletctual property is all the rage these days. But why do they have to do things that make no sense for their business? How can the distribution of free maps cause them any trouble? Don't they normally have to print maps? Isn't this better for them? Are they really saying they don't want subway users to have easy access to how to use the subway? The map isn't a trademark, so it's not like they have to go after everyone for it. And even if it was like that, who cares? It's a friggin' free map that they post all over the place so people will use and PAY FOR their subway access.

    That's the secondary effect of all this ridiculous IP chest beating these days. Now everyone thinks they should protect every idea or bit of information they have since that's what everyone else is doing. Even if it makes no sense and it actually hinders their goals, they'll protect their IP to the death.

    Good luck.

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. -- Robert Benchley

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