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Discussion: Mapping - Copyright

in: Orienteering; General

Jun 11, 2022 12:20 AM # 
I've been trying to figure out if a map made using LiDAR and aerial imagery constitutes a 100% original work is a derivative work for formal copyrighting purposes. Obviously, the mapper doesn't create the LiDAR or take the pictures (implying derivative work), but the result also doesn't contain any LiDAR or photographs (implying original work), so I'm finding this a little tougher question than I'd hoped. I'm not an atty, and I don't play one on TV.

I thought to go search the US copyright catalog to see how those (c) marked NRE maps in my collection were registered and guess what - I've not been able to find any of a small sample of them. The only maps I found were from decades ago, and was explicitly based off a topo map or some other preexisting map, and thus plainly a derivative work.

- Does anyone in the US O-mapping world actually formalize their their LiDAR + imagery + fieldwork map copyrights with the copyright office?
- Do they do so as original works or derivative works?

Jun 11, 2022 3:32 AM # 
Hardly anybody formally registers the copyright of anything. I could be mistaken, but my understanding is that it's not necessary. Very, very different from the situation with patents.
Jun 11, 2022 5:12 AM # 
Professional mappers usually work under contract to a club or state organisation, and it is the latter that would hold copyright if it were registered. Although one mapper tried (unsuccessfully) to convince my state association that the map we paid him to produce was his copyright and therefore we couldn't update it without his permission. Not a good deal since he was based 4000kms away!
I'm not aware that any club or association in Australia has registered copyright for an O map, however my association usually puts a copyright statement (eg 'This map may not be reproduced without permission.') on our maps.
Jun 11, 2022 5:58 AM # 
I know of a similar story of a paid mapper who won't hand over the OCAD copies to the club and therefore is the only one who can update them. Makes it hard when he's a slow responder to requests to do so or he's not available.
Jun 11, 2022 6:26 AM # 
What constitutes a "professional mapper" in Australia these days? I posit that a good proportion of paid mapping jobs have a significant component of voluntary contribution.
Jun 11, 2022 11:51 AM # 
...and what is the point?
The comments above address the problematic revision issue, and there have been very few problems in the last 40+(?) years.
I''l suggest that even the most egregious violation of trust or ethics is still a net positive for promotion of the sport.
Jun 11, 2022 1:50 PM # 
Beware of people asking for a single copy of the map with no course on it.
Our club had a map copied and distributed to a group that held an unauthorized event.
When things went wrong and emergency services were called, the park manager was not happy. He saw our club logo on the map and decided that orienteering was not the kind of event that would be welcome in this park.
Jun 11, 2022 2:55 PM # 
I always put a copyright statement on every map I produce. Remember most of the lidar and aerial imagery used is in the public domain and not copyrighted. When you put it all together and add field work you have an original work of "art".

The only problem we have is when a third party wants to wants to update a map. As an example when the club makes a map of a private property (Scout Camp) usually the owner/copyright holder is the party paying the mapper. If they want to use the image they need to ask permission which we gladly give them for permission to hold events on the property.

If they go ahead and pay to update the map they would have to get permission to use our map as a base map for the new map and then it is usually considered joint copyright ownership.

Most of the time the third party does not have the capability (OCAD) to update the map so it is a mute point.
Jun 11, 2022 6:19 PM # 
you don't say
Jun 11, 2022 7:04 PM # 
No comment here.
Jun 11, 2022 11:21 PM # 
I used to think OCAD18 and its subscription business model was the solution to map versioning issues. Then I started using OOM.
Jun 11, 2022 11:50 PM # 
I find myself bouncing between OCAD and OOM depending on what I need at the time. The two programs are not mootually exclusive.
Jun 12, 2022 10:22 AM # 
First off, I am a mapper not a lawyer. NOT a Lawyer, got that ?

Copyright law varies greatly around the world according to local legal jurisdictions but there are some constants; ask before incorporating somebody else's work.

dofishman is right to say that O maps are works of art. A mapper might choose to draw a map the 19th century way by banging a datum pole into the ground and hand measuring everything from that point; in that case the copyright work in the map would all be that of the mapper/artist. In order to vastly speed things up, modern mappers tend to use layers of digital information obtained as the result of somebody else's work. The sources of this information might be some local government LIDAR agency, Open Street Map, Google Earth Pro, and similar. Organisations such those I have listed tend to have clear copyright statements; Google Earth's can be found here and OSM here . Most online LIDAR sources will have a copyright policy displayed on their website somewhere, or bundled in the zip file download, and if they don't it might be a good idea to email them and ask before publishing anything based on their stuff.

Before commissioning a new map from either an amateur or professional mapper make it really clear where you expect the final copyright to reside. The mapper can confer copyright on the club. An amateur might to do that happily, the professional will want a reasonable payment to give up copyright. Agree that before any work is done.

A club map with several sources of information on it might carry a statement like;
"This map is copyright property of CLUB NAME.
The map was surveyed and drawn by Mrs Madeupname.
The map contains data derived from;
Fictional County LIDAR,
© OpenStreetMap contributors,
Google Earth Pro.
This map is for non-profit sporting and educational use only.
This map is not for resale.
Possession of this map does not confer any access rights
to the area described.
First surveyed in 1846, latest update Spring 2350".

It might be increasingly worth while for O clubs to encourage amateur mappers to contribute to their local effort. Using freeware makes that a lot more feasible nowadays.

Did I mention that I am not a lawyer ?
Jun 12, 2022 7:00 PM # 
Many good comments above, and above above.
I don't disagree with anything. It's all worth putting on the map
I'll even give an extra strong second to the "possession... access..." note.

But what wrongdoing does any of this prevent? I think the answer is very close to nothing.

Sorry, but in striving for the technically legal route, the up front effort, along with the potential cost & aggravation of enforcement, strike me as way out of whack wiith the reality of the problem.

And this barely touches on the very real and serious intra-orienteering problems that this issue actually creates.
Any Badger people want to comment?

edit- Oops, I overlooked one already posted
Jun 13, 2022 2:43 AM # 
tRicky. I perhaps was a little too obtuse on my comment about versioning.
Back in the day when OCAD 5,6,7,8 were widely pirated, there was a club with a map that was used several times each year. The map had an ever changing track network. Every course setter seemed to make their own correction on the digital file. There were multiple versions floating around and no-one quite knew which was the most recent. Until recently, OOM was unable to read OCAD18 files. This solved the versioning issues for a while if maps were made available to setters in OCAD18 format. Then OOM gained the ability to read OCAD18 files. The versioning issue rears its head again.
And yes, I use both OCAD and OOM on all map projects. Neither tool has all the features I wish to use.
Jun 13, 2022 3:07 AM # 
I made that comment in the pursuit of a joke, but yes that's why I also still use both programs because both have their limitations. It's the same reason why I still have to use both the desktop and online version of MYOB AccountRight. Despite the developers wanting to move everyone online, they seem to have left off features with the online version that are only available - or else are easier to use - in the desktop one (and vice versa). I realise OCAD and OOM are designed by different developers, which makes it all the more bizarre that AccountRight has differing features between the two designs and yet both function complementary to each other.
Jun 13, 2022 7:20 AM # 
Weird indeed.

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