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#1
François Goulet

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Hi folks!

We are now finishing an thematic world atlas on which I have worked for the last 2½ years. We are doing the French and English version simultaneously and it's meant to be translated in a number of foreign languages.

Sometimes, when I don't have the place to put the entire name of a country or to identify the country who "owns" a territory, I have to put the ISO code instead. So, we have "Greenland (DK)" or "BIH" instead of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I know well that it's not always easy to decode (Croatia's code is HRV...), but it allows us to have an unique identifier no matter what is the language since it's from the International Standardization Organisation.

Like they say themselves: The existence of various country codes developed by different organizations can be confusing if you exchange goods or information in our ever more integrated world. To make sure that communication works you need an accepted, up-to-date country code standard. and it's the reason why we chose it.

I though it was settled, but I just visited their website to chech something and found this statement:
All rights reserved. The material on ISO Online is subject to the same conditions of copyright as ISO publications, and its use is subject to the user's acceptance of ISO's conditions of copyright for ISO publications, as set out below. Any use of the material, including reproduction in whole or in part to another Internet site, requires permission in writing from ISO.

All ISO publications are protected by copyright. Therefore and unless otherwise specified, no part of an ISO publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, microfilm, scanning, without permission in writing from the publisher.


What do you think? Is our utilisation of the codes on our maps illegal? If we put a list with the mention of the ISO, is it ok? Both my head and my heart tell me that we couldn't use it, but my 3 weeks deadline tells me that it would be the worst 3 weeks of my existence if I had to change everything because I already don't have enough time to re-check everything like I should...

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#2
Hans van der Maarel

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Well...

I'm a cartographer, not a lawyer (and consequently, this is not legal advice), but I'd say what you're doing is okay. I can't imagine that they'd want keep you from referring to The Netherlands as "NED" just because they put that in their list.

Heck, you're doing exactly that thing for which the ISO was founded: you're using their standards!
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#3
mika

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That's what I'd say too. It's an official international standard, isn't it?

But I also noticed that you use 'Greenland (DK)' and at the same time you mention BIH for Bosnia and Herzegovina. It's a bit inconsistent really - mixing two and three letter codes together. The two letter code for Bosnia is BA and three letter for Denmark is DNK.

Also you may check the cartographic section of the UN. They used to publish a list of the UN recognized countries, along with iso codes and some other info.
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#4
François Goulet

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That's what I'd say too. It's an official international standard, isn't it?

But I also noticed that you use 'Greenland (DK)' and at the same time you mention BIH for Bosnia and Herzegovina. It's a bit inconsistent really - mixing two and three letter codes together. The two letter code for Bosnia is BA and three letter for Denmark is DNK.

Also you may check the cartographic section of the UN. They used to publish a list of the UN recognized countries, along with iso codes and some other info.


Thanks guys! The UN list is here and they used the Alpha-3 codes.

We first used the codes in the 2005 Data & Maps dvd's, cross check it and keeping it updated. We never thought there would have a copyright since it was in a dataset we bought. It just that my company is really nervous with that kind of stuff. We have partners in more than 60 countries, our books are translated in more than 30 languages and their primary concern is that none of our partners will ever have any problem with copyrighted material.

My first reaction was to say that we were OK and by sourcing it, no one could accuse us of "stealing". My bosses aren't so sure.

As for the 2-3 letters codes, I know it's not user friendly (as well as not cartographer friendly). It was an editorial decision due to a space problem, not always having place to put the name and the desire to have only one abbreviation or codes for all languages. Any English spoking person could know that NED is for Netherlands, but in French and Spanish, it would be probably have been P.-B. (Pays-Bas or Paises Bajos) or... euh... well it's Alankomaat in Swedish ;)

We had place for "Greenland (DNK)", but the Editor in Chief though it was too long and ask me to put the 2 letters codes when we where identifying a territory. That's the problem working with a bunch of people who knows absolutely nothing about maps... The editors have the last words on the content, the designer on the look and the cartographer has ... all the trouble making everybody happy :P and is possible, a good looking precise map ;)

I know that I could easily have come myself with NED for an abbreviation of Netherlands, but HRV for Croatia is a long shot ;) I couldn't have invent this one myself...

Thanks again Mika and Hans. :)

#5
mika

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Just one more thing though... I'm not sure what's the best choice, but I get an impression that the two letter codes are a bit more common than their three letter equivalents. I mean GB (not UK... :-) for United Kingdom, US for States, FR for France, PL for Poland and so on. I also think they might be a bit easier to understad.
But whatever the final choice is I'd go for consistency and wouldn't mix different codes

Dom

PS. HR or HRV for Croatia comes from Hrvatska or something similar meaning Croatia in Croatian ;)
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#6
François Goulet

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PS. HR or HRV for Croatia comes from Hrvatska or something similar meaning Croatia in Croatian ;)


My point was that it's not obvious for non-Croatian speakers who, on the other hand, are quite a few :P

#7
frax

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Depending on your audience - doesn't it make more sense to use Cro. for Croatia?

If you don't buy/download the codes directly from ISO, but from another source (e.g. Wikipedia) then you may not be limited by their clause.
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#8
François Goulet

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Depending on your audience - doesn't it make more sense to use Cro. for Croatia?


Yeah, I know :( That's a battle I didn't won... It's for a general audience so I would be simpler to have an abbreviation instead of a code, but the editor preferred a "universal" code with a list... That's why I'm stuck with the problem now :(

#9
Hans van der Maarel

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but the editor preferred a "universal" code with a list...


Then why did he ask you to do Greenland and other territories in a different way? :rolleyes:
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#10
Dennis McClendon

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What's protected by copyright is the descriptive text on the ISO website, same as the descriptive text in their books. ISO is not trying to protect its country codes; only the essays talking about the concept.

The classic example used in Anglo-American court cases is a book outlining a new method of bookkeeping. The word descriptions of this method is subject to copyright, so you can't write about it using the exact same expression of nouns and verbs. But the method itself is not copyrightable. Someone else, using different words, is free to describe the same bookkeeping method. Perhaps a better example for you is a history book. The way the history is told can be copyrighted; the years that things happened cannot. Same with your country codes.
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#11
François Goulet

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What's protected by copyright is the descriptive text on the ISO website, same as the descriptive text in their books. ISO is not trying to protect its country codes; only the essays talking about the concept.

The classic example used in Anglo-American court cases is a book outlining a new method of bookkeeping. The word descriptions of this method is subject to copyright, so you can't write about it using the exact same expression of nouns and verbs. But the method itself is not copyrightable. Someone else, using different words, is free to describe the same bookkeeping method. Perhaps a better example for you is a history book. The way the history is told can be copyrighted; the years that things happened cannot. Same with your country codes.


That makes sense... as an historian first, I should have known ;)

Thanks!

#12
François Goulet

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but the editor preferred a "universal" code with a list...


Then why did he ask you to do Greenland and other territories in a different way? :rolleyes:


Well, you'll have to ask her yourself ;) She's not working for us anymore, but due to the advancement of the project, her successor though it was too late to change... and too bad :P




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