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#1
BEAVER

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Does any one know what are the limitations on the GIS data available on the internet.
I spoke to few people in the GIS field and I was told that most free data on the internet can not be used for commercial purposes and the data is for educational or none profit organizations. Yet I see people chasing internet data all the time and using that data for commercial use. You see most independent contractors looking for free data all the time.

After having a talk with some NY state GIS people, I went to NY GIS Clearinghouse to see if I can purchase the data. It seams that their file, which cost $1000 is not for commercial use as well and requires a license directly from the source which cost additional few thousands of dollars. This is just the State land boundary for 4 counties that have maybe 400 lines in it. Most of this land is marked on USGS 7.5 quads that I can trace over. Why would someone pay all that money for that data where it can be traced in 2 hours worth of work or it can be downloaded from many GIS web sites for free. Same applies for all other data like roads, lakes, town. One guy I spoke to said to use the free data anyway. There is no way for anyone to prove that you didn't collect this data by your self by tracing Satellite images or driving-walking around with GPS.

Since I stared this project (fly fishing map) everyone is trying to stop me from doing it. I did many maps before but those were small maps that I use to post on fishing forums. Now that I decided to do a map for sale, I hear nothing but horror stories how once my map hits the stores I will have 10 law suits in first month.

Can someone please shine some light on this.

#2
frax

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There is truly a lot of global and US specific data in the public domain. For basemap data, most that is done from US federal resources, like TIGER or VMAP is available under very liberal licenses. In the US - data prepared by govm't sources should (in theory) be available through Freedom of Information Act requests.

I don't think that they can specify any restrictions on licensing (in theory it should be in the public domain), but they are allowed to charge for the handling and delivery of the data.

Oh, and I don't know what happens when the govm't entity (like county agencies) use commercial data sources that might be restricted in some ways.

Someone else, please fill in, I am not even American or living in the US...
Hugo Ahlenius
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#3
Dennis McClendon

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I'll try to help with a few general comments:

In the US, there is no copyrightable interest in facts, only in the expression of those facts. So you can trace freely from government maps and even from commercial maps. Of course, this cuts both ways. I recall a couple of weeks ago you were worried that others would be able to copy the fishing info from your maps. Indeed they can.

As for data sets, you use them subject to licensing restrictions placed on them by their creators. For USGS data sets, or possibly those from other agencies, there may be no restrictions at all. For those from commercial sources, you may be allowed to use the data sets to create a commercial product, but not to resell the data set to others. So read the licensing agreement. If you're not asked to read one before downloading a data set, I would not worry about it. (Not all government data is available
even through FOI requests; in Illinois they declare it all "work product" so it can't even be purchased.)

Legal situations for US businesses are often frustratingly unresolved. No one can afford to sort out all the legal rights, but no one can afford to sue you either, and probably wouldn't get much if they did. So we just try to do the right thing, and remember that often it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#4
burwelbo

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I think you need to worry more about the scale and temporal aspects of the data for commercial purposes. Most free image data sources I have seen (Landsat 7) is around the year 2000. That means its 5 years out of date. Also, this data could only be used as a basemap or to capture data at about 1:50000. Free public domain vector data has got to be 10 years old. For commercial purposes, you should decide on the scale and then pick the data source that will meet that scale. If you are going to map at 1:24000 (US) then you can use the public domain data and update the data with 1:10000 aerial photography or ground surveys. Its importanat to put somewhere on the map the date of the data so the user knows. Just remember the accuracy of your data (relative and absolute). Its not wise to mix and match data at different scales.

#5
Mike H

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Since I stared this project (fly fishing map) everyone is trying to stop me from doing it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Who is, and in what context? From what I saw of your map, there was no cartographic data that isn't in the public domain. You can make a recreational map of virtually any US location with free, public domain data. So that resolves you of data copyrights, but only you know your specific data sources.

There are many cases of people selling otherwise free data. You can do that under various 'repackaging' or 'value-added' scenarios. Virtually every independent mapmaker in the US learns how to get absolutely free data, and with Google that process has gotten much easier. You may find the same data for sale in one location, free in another. Or, as mentioned, a few hours worth of scan and trace yields your own proprietary database.

However, you do need to be aware of public vs private land issues. You should not put a trail system, or parking area, campsite, or suggest access via text or symbols on private land without landowners written permission. That may get you in hot water.

Fish don't live long in hot water :)

m.
Michael Hermann
mike [at] purplelizard.com


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#6
BEAVER

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Thanks guys. I started calling different government offices today to try to get some of the State Land and got all the files in my e-mail 30 minutes later. I was just asked to mention the departments that the data originated from. Got over 38mb of files showing everything from state land, parks, city property, land with special regulation, roads, lakes, streams, rivers with all their names. To get this info from the GIS Clearinghouse I would have to pay well over $5000. How can they charge all that money for data that was collected by government institutions paid by us in form of taxes. This should be illegal. You and I paid for this data.

#7
Kartograph

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Talk to european governments...there you have REAL restrictiveness...

#8
Jason

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Don't forget to add a disclaimer statement on your map. i.e. you disclaim any responsibility for injuries or death incurred by any individuals while using this map. Fishing can be dangerous...
Jason Clark
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#9
melon_mapper

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Having worked for state and federal government agencies, I agree with everything that has been posted. There are 2 counties in Nevada that require people to subscribe to their data warehouse to get their data. Subscritpions range from 7000, to 17,500. While I agree there should be cost recovery of some extent- the cost of collecting data is a function of the government. Best of luck on your fishing maps

#10
Martin Gamache

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While I agree there should be cost recovery of some extent- the cost of collecting data is a function of the government.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I agree, but why any cost recovery beyond the bandwidth or media cost which is minimal these days, paying our taxes once is not enough? Only users from foreign countries should be required to pay for data paid for by taxpayers (nothing personal to all my foreign friends and conversely I expect to and do pay for all my data when working in foreign countries). Doing otherwise is charging taxpayers twice which IMO is dishonest. How any governement agency gets away with this is confusing to me. I was stonewalled by a National Forest on some imagery last year....so I know the frustration but it does not make sense to me how they can get away with this.

#11
frax

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I don't think that one should take for granted that collecting data is a function of the government. For some data yes, but for a lot of others I think that could be bought externally (thus outsourcing the data collection and stimulating businesses in the field)
Hugo Ahlenius
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