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Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 00:21:43

Lartokul
Level 2
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I have a thread regarding this in the general forum, but thought it might help to ask among the mapping experts, too. Are maps generally taken, copied, traced, etc. from copyrighted sources, making them an infringement of copyright? How do you make a real-world map without somehow taking from a copyrighted source? Would I be violating copyright law by playing on such a map?

Thanks!
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 00:29:49

Fizzer 
Level 58

Warzone Creator
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|> *How do you make a real-world map without somehow taking from a copyrighted source?*

The world's landmasses aren't copyrighted :)

If you visit a site like http://commons.wikimedia.org you can find tons of geographical maps that permit their use.
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 00:36:20

Lartokul
Level 2
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:) Yeah, I'm a bit scrupulous when it comes to these things.

You still would have to cite the actual work (the original map) at least, right? The world's landmasses may not be copyrighted, but can maps them be?

I don't know which maps were derived from Wikimedia, though.

Thanks for the reply!
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 00:44:41


i-like-swords
Level 31
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Sometimes map makers use multiple maps and join them together to create a new original map. Would that fall under your question? Also, maps may look different from the original map(s) that they came from because in order to suit the needs of the game, so would map makers become punished were they to create a new map using another map or maps as a resource? I can see your point however...
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 00:47:46


NoZone 
Level 6
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Fizzer, the landmasses aren't copyrighted, but representations of them are. Virtually all maps will be copyrighted. What might save map makers here is the fact that they are redrawing the map (generally). I suspect direct reproduction is a violation, but using the map as a source for your own map may not be. Someone more versed in copyright will have to give a definitive answer. Using old maps that are out of copyright may be a work around.

http://www.maps-eureka.com/copyright.html
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 00:57:24

Lartokul
Level 2
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Hmm... so, at least from my understanding of the link posted, it would seem that most maps on here may fall under copyright infringement, and then maybe illegal to use. I don't see how a tracing or redrawing of a map would be okay, while a "direct reproduction" wouldn't. Would citations be needed for even those maps in the public domain? How would a citation be done on this site? This isn't even entering the realm of place names and other information, yet.
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 01:15:10

Lartokul
Level 2
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Also, I suspect that most maps were created with a program under the GNU license (I think that's its name, at least). I looked over it and there seem to be quite a few requirements that are not being followed here.
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 01:22:43

(Lost)SGV_STH
Level 23
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It seems weird how there has been an increase in talks about copyright protections and the maps themselves, though it is good to talk about it. In any case, I think that what Matma Rex said in an eariler topic might help out here.

---

|> "...**whether you can modify the map, or actually whether you can reproduce it at all, depends on a particular license.**

|> If it was copyrighted, then you can't do any of these things and, if the copyright holder cared enough, you could possibly be sued. Note that hardly anyone would sue you for something as 'silly' as a map for some online game - Fizzer would just receive a takedown request and that would be it. (I think.)

|> If the map was released into public domain, you can do anything you want with it, copy and modify, and even monetize (if you found a way to do it ;) ).

|> If the map is released under one of free licenses, like GFDL or one of Creative Commons ones, then you can always freely reproduce (assuming you attribute the work to original author), usually you can freely modify (it depends on a license; of course with attribution, as above), and you can only sometimes monetize (CC-BY-NC is one of licensed that forbid it).

|> When the map you found had no license information, you should assume it's copyrighted. That's why it's best to take maps for Warlight from Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons (they're always properly licensed, usually with CC licenses, and even better, often already in SVG format)."

---

I hope that help you find the answer that you seek, Lartokul. :)
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 01:39:50

The Duke of Ben 
Level 55
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A map of the United States might be copyrighted, but the information from it that is used to create USA Big cannot be copyrighted. It's a map based on actual counties in the country. The same is true of any other real life maps, they are based on real places. I'm not terribly familiar with how map-making works in this game, but it's my understanding that the creators cannot just port in an existing image file that creates a map, so it's difficult to present a case that the map is a direct copy. (They look very different from original form too).

The only maps that would concern me are the ones based on copyrighted fiction settings, like LoTR or Warhammer. But most likely the response would simply be a takedown notice, unless someone wanted to waste a lot of money to prove a point.
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 02:00:05


Richard Sharpe 
Level 59
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Duke,

If you can find a map in SVG format then you can directly use it in Inkscape. Of course, that map would need to be tweaked to allow for bonuses borders to not overlap and allow any other changes. Whether that would be acceptable I can't say.

I would also imagine that use of a map in such a fashion would be hard to prove copyright infringement on since there have to be multiple sources for such information.

I agree with your assessment of the fiction maps... those would be more of a risk for infringement but I can't see any meriting more than a takedown notice. Escalating any case to legal proceedings without a takedown request seems quite unlikely to me.
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 02:05:25

Lartokul
Level 2
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Definitely some helpful responses so far!

It seems that most (if not all) *may* be violating copyright in some way. I don't see it to be likely that all the maps come from public domain or have copyright-holder permission. Were I to make some maps, I would use public domain material(although, those could be derived from copyrighted material, couldn't they?); I'm still mulling over the requirements of the Inkscape license (which, as far as I can recollect, don't seem to be followed in entirety by any map I've seen).

As to the citing of facts (such as the U.S. counties in "Big United States"), I think that's a matter of what common knowledge is. To make things more confusing: http://library.csusm.edu/plagiarism/howtoavoid/how_avoid_common.htm

We'll get to an answer eventually, I hope. ;)
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 02:22:34


Richard Sharpe 
Level 59
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In what respect do the Inkscape developed maps no meet the requirements of the license?

And we will never get to an answer short of consulting a number of lawyers who specialized in copyright law. To this point its all been simple guesses and assumptions from the uneducated and ignorant (regarding the topic), myself included.
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 02:29:59

Lartokul
Level 2
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Well, if I remember correctly, the license said that you must post the license with your work. There was other stuff... I could look it up later.

How are we supposed to avoid breaking the law then? Law can really be frustrating sometimes. :)
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 02:35:29


Richard Sharpe 
Level 59
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Sometimes the letter of the law is impossible to obey in certain circumstances. I would wager that everyone on the forum has broken the law at some point, whether intentionally or unwittingly. (for instance, jay-walking is breaking the law)
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 06:22:26

bloodnok
Level 10
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OP: the output of a GPLed program is not itself normally under the GPL. It would have taken you perhaps five minutes to discover this. Given that your involvement with Warlight appears to consist of getting booted from one real-time game on the 5th of February (after, presumably, relatively few turns since they were all in the 5-10 minute window - I guess, in fact, one turn) perhaps you have had those five minutes to spare?

Richard Sharpe: the world is not the USA. Crossing the road where I please is not a crime here, nor in many other countries.
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 09:05:49

Lartokul
Level 2
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I joined a couple days ago and am still confused about a lot of things (copyright included). I'm not even sure I knew I signed up for that game, much less remembered it. Sorry.

When I read the license I'm pretty sure the "program" included works from the software. I don't know.
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 12:46:45


Richard Sharpe 
Level 59
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bloodnok, that is a good point. I would still stand by my assertion though. There are archaic laws still on the books in every country and some of them are pretty damned stupid. The jay-walking was just on obvious example... littering would be another
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 17:34:43

Grzechooo 
Level 30
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This just looks like trolling.
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 19:24:02


devilnis 
Level 10
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Trolling it may be, but nevertheless it's a valid concern that bears discussion...
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 19:46:13


Richard Sharpe 
Level 59
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devil, As I stated in one of these copyright threads, I really don't think it does merit discussion.

Not because it isn't pertinent but because the majority of commenters lack the necessary knowledge and understanding of copyright law to make a beneficial statement. Given the complexity and subjectivity of the appropriate laws it would require a number of lawyers specializing in that field to provide their opinions in order to have any real benefit.

Otherwise it would be like us debating the physics inherent in the big bang theory or the LHC at CERN.
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 21:34:55


Perrin3088 
Level 44
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richard, we can do that too...
on the internet, everyone is omniscient..
Maps and copyright: 2/8/2012 22:01:39


Matma Rex 
Level 12
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The license of a program used to create a map drawing (or, in fact, anything) does not at all under any circumstances "force" itself on the created work. You can release your work under any license you please, including keeping all rights to it, or releasing it into public domain (in countries that permit it; otherwise, use WTFPL or similar license).

I am not a lawyer, I speak based on common sense, personal experience and some work as a Wikipedia administrator: as far as I know, you can not be prosecuted for viewing a copyrighted work (such as a map) that someone else reproduced without permission. To put it simply, that would be quite idiotic; I won't even bother coming up with examples. The one who reproduced it, however, could be sued - but as I have been cited already, nobody in his right mind would care.

Maps can be copyrighted, and some map authors or publishers even deliberately introduce small errors into their maps to be able to find and sue copyright infringers (I could look up some proof on this, if you wish). Not all Warlight maps are copyrightable, though; you can't copyright shapes such as a square or hexagon.

All maps on Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons (same thing, actually) are available under free licenses. Adding a link to such map page in your description is usually sufficient to fulfill license requirements; you could also (additionally or instead) provide information about map author(s) and the license itself, and everything should be fine. There exist kind-of-free licenses which disallow derivative works (such as Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs license, CC-BY-ND), but they are very rarely used on Wikimedia projects.

Warlight maps which have no license information could possibly be copyright infringements. If this inconveniences you morally ;), don't play on them, or use Map feedback function to ask map creator about license status. (Note, though, that it's not possible to change the description of a released map.)

----

Did I answer all of your still unanswered questions? :)
Maps and copyright: 2/9/2012 05:07:08

RvW 
Level 46
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Richard Sharpe wrote:
|> Otherwise it would be like us debating the physics inherent in the big bang theory or the LHC at CERN.

Even if nobody here is an expert (which is not necessarily a valid assumption; for all I know there might be a copyright lawyer playing WL), the result of a discussion could still be useful; the guidelines for map making could be changed (such as requiring map makers to include source / license information) or Fizzer could be worried enough to decide to consult a lawyer.

Matma Rex wrote:
|> you can not be prosecuted for viewing a copyrighted work (such as a map) that someone else reproduced without permission

I'm terribly sorry, but I have to disagree with you there: if someone downloads a film or tv show episode (a copyrighted work, reproduced by someone else without permission) they themselves are very much subject to prosecution (well, in most countries, not in the Netherlands, where we have a special exception; the details of which aren't relevant here, so I'll skip the full explanation). I'll admit it's highly unlikely they'll get prosecuted (associations such as the RIAA and MPAA are much more likely to go after the uploaders), but at least in theory, they are prosecutable.
Someone downloading a file with a misleading name (let's say a file called "Ubuntu-12.04.iso", which actually contains the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory) *should* not be prosecutable (but given the current flood of SOPA, PIPA, ACTA proposals I'm afraid someone like that actually getting prosecuted would still fall under "weirder things have happened" :( ), but your statement is definitely not valid for someone downloading a file called "TheBigBangTheory-s5e14.avi" (maybe even if it actually contains an Ubuntu install image?? but definitely if it contains the advertised content) could in theory be in trouble.

SGV_STH wrote:
|> I think that what Matma Rex said in an eariler topic might help out here
|> |> If the map was released into public domain, you can do anything you want with it, copy and modify, and even monetize (if you found a way to do it ;) ).

Ehm actually, using a map on WL probably counts as "monetizing", since there is a possibility to **buy** membership. If something is licensed as non-commercial, I really doubt Google could use it (as basis for) one of their holiday-logo's: even though they don't charge users (and there's no advertisements on the main search page), they still do make money on their web search service, so anything promoting or even merely adorning their site could (but keep in mind, I'm not a lawyer) count as commercial use.
Maps and copyright: 2/9/2012 18:55:15


Matma Rex 
Level 12
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RvW, yeah, but that depends on interpretation: whether this is you intentionally breaking copyright law, or just being shown something that was copied off from somewhere earlier.

You don't get sued when a friend asks you to listen to a song he downloaded from the Internet. You don't get sued when your aunt shows you vacation photos which happen to include something she illegally snapped in a museum. (Well, at least I hope so...)
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