[talk-ph] Are real estate development maps fair game?

Eugene Alvin Villar seav80 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 6 06:43:41 GMT 2011

Hi guys,

I have a private conversation with someone but I think this is
important enough to discuss here in the mailing list. The question is:
Can we copy details such as street names from real estate development
maps provided by the developers?

Strictly speaking, we in OSM are not allowed to copy from any other
map at all without permission.

But I *personally* consider real estate materials coming from the real
estate developers themselves as fair game and I think that way simply
because these maps are *not third-party* materials.

Here's my thinking. Copying is not allowed in the first place because
of copyright itself--copying is an exclusive right bestowed on the
owner of the thing that can be copied. But in the US and PH, facts
aren't copyrightable so theoretically, street names are facts and can
therefore be copied. But third-party maps (like Citiatlas and EZ Maps)
can foil this idea by introducing fake streets such that if you copy
those fake streets, you are not extracting facts and are therefore
guilty of copyright infringement. This is why OSM tries to be strict
with not copying anything at all without express permission (for
example, Bing, and not Google). Better to be safe than sorry is the

On the other hand, you can copy the names of streets directly from the
street signs themselves and that is clearly acceptable. From there on,
it's just a conceptual leap of faith to consider "you are here" maps
(such as in malls) as being the same thing as street signs, just more
convenient[1]. And real estate maps coming from the real estate
developer themselves are really the same thing as those "you are here"
maps. Thus, I think it might be OK to copy these maps. But the
qualification is that these maps are *first-party* stuff and not maps
coming from third parties like Citiatlas and EZ Maps.

Besides, I think real estate developers would consider having their
maps in OSM as promotion/marketing and not infringement. ;-)

What do you guys think?

[1] Note: this can be argued. Copying names from street signs are OK
because these labels (the street signs) are *exactly* where the
labeled thing is (the streets). But "you are here" maps show the names
from far away and are therefore one level of abstraction away, which
makes them invalid for copying.

Eugene (osm:seav)

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