[Talk-us] Tiger Street Names and Copyright

Karl Newman siliconfiend at gmail.com
Sun Feb 1 21:43:40 GMT 2009

On Sun, Feb 1, 2009 at 1:36 PM, Ian Dees <ian.dees at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sun, Feb 1, 2009 at 3:25 PM, <richard at weait.com> wrote:
>> Hilton Long said:
>> > Tiger line files are incomplete, especially as regards streets in new
>> > developments.  It's possible to draw the streets from Yahoo imagery.
>>  But
>> > where to get the names?  Must they come off of street signs?  Is it a
>> > violation of copyright to take the names (and ONLY the names) from
>> Google,
>> > Yahoo, or Microsoft Maps?
>> It is absolutely a violation of copyright to take street names from
>> copyright maps.
> That's incorrect. As discussed previously on one of the other OSM e-mail
> lists [1], the US Supreme Court ruled long ago [2] that facts are not
> copyrightable. Street names are not copyrightable because they are facts.
> Google Maps and similar do not add any creative spark specifically to street
> names so the street names are not copyrightable. On the other hand, the
> street centerline data is copyrightable because Google is adding a spark of
> creativity to the factual data.
> [1] http://www.mail-archive.com/newbies@openstreetmap.org/msg00502.html
> [2]
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feist_Publications_v._Rural_Telephone_Service

I dunno. I think when it comes to OSM, it's best to err on the side of
caution. There could be spelling mistakes (intentional or not) which could
cause someone could say "Aha! That spelling exists only on Google's map,
therefore all OSM's data for that way or area is suspect." Tenuous, true,
but they have much deeper pockets than OSM when it comes to lawsuits.

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