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NYC & SF iPod Subway Map Controversy

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the free-as-in-beer dept.

Media (Apple) 361

scruffy323 writes "NYC and San Francisco are claiming copyright violations for freely distributed subway maps." From the Wired piece: "More than 9,000 people downloaded the map, which was viewable on either an iPod or an iPod nano, before Bright received a Sept. 14 letter from Lester Freundlich, a senior associate counsel at New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority, saying that Bright had infringed the MTA's copyright and that he needed a license to post the map and to authorize others to download it."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692422)


Guns and ammo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692455)

Dear Guns & Ammo Letters Page,

I never thought it would happen to me.

I recently attended a late night showing of Reese Witherspoon's romantic comedy Just Like Heaven at my local movie theater. Late showings are my favorite since the audiences are typically sparse, and on this particular night I happened to find myself alone as the previews reel ran. The lights dimmed completely before the movie started up, casting the theatre in momentary darkness. When the ambient glow of the film filled the room I was surprised to find an occupant in the seat next to mine. Of all the empty seats available, why choose that one?

After a few minutes of unsuccessfully trying to concentrate on the movie, I took a careful glance sideways and what I saw made my heart skip a beat. There, a few scant inches away, was the most beautiful Bushmaster 16in Modular Carbine I had ever seen in my life. I snapped my head back to the screen and gulped hard, hoping it hadn't noticed.

Just then I felt something brush against my ankle in a slow and deliberate move. Biting my lip, I slid my eyes from the screen to my lower leg where the Carbine's rubber buttplate was resting.

It was my turn to make a move. I had never been in a situation like this before and my palms were already beginning to sweat. Closing my eyes, I hesitantly reached over and caressed the cold surface of the Carbine's chrome-lined barrel with the back of my hand. It didn't pull back from my touch so I continued, gingerly tracing the barrel with my fingertips. Feeling particularly bold, when I reached the opening at the end of the barrel I pressed a finger inside and quivered in ecstasy.

Upon opening my eyes once more, I was met with another surprise. There in the cupholder between us was a 2.25 oz. bottle of Ultra-Lube Advanced Gun Oil and a fiendishly long blackened steel cleaning rod.

"You're dirty, aren't you?" I whispered, taking off my coat and laying it across the rifle's midsection in case anyone walked in on us. "You filthy little gun, I'm gonna clean you good."

Over the course of the next hour I field-stripped and slowly cleaned every nook and cranny, becoming intimately familiar with this gun I had never even seen before. After the movie ended we went our separate ways without a word. I've never been the sort of guy that would even consider doing something like that before, but the experience was exhilarating and I now find myself at the movie theater several times a week, gun oil and cleaning rod tucked away in my jacket pocket just in case.

Bobby D.
Genosha, Wisconsin

My next computer will be an Apple, NOT linux (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692423)

Linux is *not* user friendly, and until it is linux will stay with >1% marketshare.

Take installation. Linux zealots are now saying "oh installing is so easy, just do apt-get install package or emerge package": Yes, because typing in "apt-get" or "emerge" makes so much more sense to new users than double-clicking an icon that says "setup".

Linux zealots are far too forgiving when judging the difficultly of Linux configuration issues and far too harsh when judging the difficulty of Windows configuration issues. Example comments:

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Linux?"
Zealot: "Oh that's easy! If you have Redhat, you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod +x on the file. Then you have to su to root, make sure you type export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5 but ONLY if you have that latest libc6 installed. If you don't, don't set that environment variable or the installer will dump core. Before you run the installer, make sure you have the GL drivers for X installed. Get them at [some obscure web address], chmod +x the binary, then run it, but make sure you have at least 10MB free in /tmp or the installer will dump core. After the installer is done, edit /etc/X11/XF86Config and add a section called "GL" and put "driver nv" in it. Make sure you have the latest version of X and Linux kernel 2.6 or else X will segfault when you start. OK, run the Quake 3 installer and make sure you set the proper group and setuid permissions on quake3.bin. If you want sound, look here [link to another obscure web site], which is a short HOWTO on how to get sound in Quake 3. That's all there is to it!"

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Windows?"
Zealot: "Oh God, I had to install Quake 3 in Windoze for some lamer friend of mine! God, what a fucking mess! I put in the CD and it took about 3 minutes to copy everything, and then I had to reboot the fucking computer! Jesus Christ! What a retarded operating system!"

So, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that what seems easy and natural to Linux geeks is definitely not what regular people consider easy and natural. Hence, the preference towards Windows.

Feh (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692424)

Man redistributes copyright material without permission.
That's not actually a controversy.

Re:Feh (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692524)

Man, you totally don't get it. You need to jump on the anti-IP-anti-copyright-bandwaggon.

Don't you know what time is it, man? Out here in the net and don't know what time it is, man. Youi're a fool.

It's all about our constitutional right for freedom, free as in beer and free as in gay ass-to-mouth-sex.

Linux rules, because it uses stolen code, which is supporting our message to the people: Fuck you, Microsoft, we use your code and don't give a shit about it.

Man, I feel sorry for you.

Go, Apple, go!

Re:Feh (1)

hattig (47930) | about 9 years ago | (#13692546)

Will they give him permission if he asks them?

Maybe he should just draw his own.

Re:Feh (1)

fafaforza (248976) | about 9 years ago | (#13692566)

They will, but for $500 per year for the license.

Re:Feh (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692590)

Maybe he should just draw his own.
That's exactly what he should do.

Re:Feh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692636)

> Man redistributes copyright material without permission.
> That's not actually a controversy.

Yes, good point. Though I'm not certain I agree with _why_ this is not a controversial issue. Not that I'm being clear in my reply, either... ;-)

Now, for what really matters: I don't know American law (I mean, US law, since America is a continent and no country should take hold of this name), but in my country a public place is, well, public, and everyone is entitled to make photos or drawings or maps or sketches etc.

Maybe it's not a public place after all?

Farewell, free country! (0, Offtopic)

linumax (910946) | about 9 years ago | (#13692425)

This whole IP/Copyright thing is getting worse n worse!
Once upon a time US was a FREE country

Re:Farewell, free country! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692444)

Once upon a time it was easy to fool oneself that the US was a Free Country. It just happens to get harder & harder to keep up that illusion as more information is dissemminated.

I've visited the US more than a dozen times in the last 30 years. The idea that it's just an illusion of freedom came to me in the late 1970s and has become more & more obvious as time goes by. What saddens me is few living there see it too.

Re:Farewell, free country! (3, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | about 9 years ago | (#13692465)

Yeah, how dare they impinge our freedom to take the fruits of other people's labours and treat them as our own... It's interesting that if the map had been GPL'd, and the redistributor was infringing that licence -- rather than a more standard copyright -- most of the people here would be taking exactly the opposite viewpoint on this infringement.

Re:Farewell, free country! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692547)

Don't mix Free & Freedom, both mean totally different things.


Re:Farewell, free country! (1)

linumax (910946) | about 9 years ago | (#13692573)

FYI a map can NOT be GPL [] 'd, a MAP is a document, hence the right license for a map is GNU FDL or simply GFDL []

On the other hand the problem is not just licensing a map, it IS licensing this sort of map! MTA is a A public-benefit corporation chartered by the State of New York. Can anybody explain what is the public benefit in suing people like this?!!
If it's about Public Benefit then helping More than 9,000 people downloaded the map [] is truely for public benefit!

Re:Farewell, free country! (5, Interesting)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13692592)

Can anybody explain what is the public benefit in suing people like this?!!

1) They're not suing, they sent a cease and desist, he complied.

2) He had the incorrect information on his website, so 9,000 people used an outdated map.

3) They're broke, and they're issuing licenses to desperately seek money. The public benefit (and this is arguable, as they may be a really shitty company and the public benefit might be them to become bankrupt) is that by not breaking the law and abusing their copyright, they will be able to reap money from their labour and continue to provide the service to the citizens of their city.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692597)

+2 Insightful? Only on Slashdot...Guy duplicates copyrighted material and is asked to either request permission or stop distributing it; I'm sorry, I don't see where the guy's rights are being infringed here? Maybe I missed it. Or maybe you're just yet another clueless, retarded, tinfoil-hat wearing Slashbot who things that, whenever Teh Coporations are involved, the individual is suddenly above the law?

Re:Farewell, free country! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692620)

Once upon a time US was a FREE country

Unless you were not a white male.

MOD PARENT UP (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13692663)

It's true. Only white males were allowed to be free. Women were not given equal rights, and blacks, well, there had to be a whole war just to free those. And even then they weren't given equal rights until the 20th century. Modding people who state this Flamebait will not change the past, it will only encourage ignorance so our forefather's mistakes can be repeated by our descendants.

Re:Farewell, free country! (4, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13692624)

Once upon a time US was a FREE country

What the fuck are you talking about? Or are you just babbling the slashdot group think to get your ass modded up? (+1 Insightful as of posting this, so he aint being very successful).

America had the ability for Congress to enact copyright law in it's Constitution. You know, the piece of paper that says what America can and can't do. It was completed in 1787, 11 years after the United States of America was first formed (sorta. See here for more details.) It took effect two years later. This power was first exercised in 1790, only 1 year after the Constitution was placed into effect. Here's a small quote from [] this article [] which you might find enlightening. Emphasis mine:
The Act secured an author the exclusive right to publish and vend "maps, charts and books"
Now while the term limit has been increased dramatically, that isn't the issue here (we're not talking about maps that are over 14 years old are we?). So don't give me that bullshit about this being another example of copyright "thing" getting worse and worse. Unless you were talking about the US being a free country before 1790 of course.

damn lawyers (-1, Offtopic)

smeenz (652345) | about 9 years ago | (#13692427)

Why does this remind of the joke about what do you call 1000 dead lawyers dead at the bottom of a cliff.

/mumbles something about damn corporates that are so quick to sue/take legal action that they can't see that people actually WANT the service they didn't provide to begin with.

Argh.. just missed first post too.

Technically, they're right (4, Insightful)

mrjb (547783) | about 9 years ago | (#13692428)

Technically the subway co. of NY city are right. It *is* copyright infringement and the map *was* distributed without their permission.

That said, in practice the NYC subway co. already made the map available to the general public, so it's not like there are any losses or damages as a result of this. In fact making the map available on IPod might actually increase the number of subway users. This rises the question, "what's the problem?" Conclusion: NYC subway co., get a life.

Re:Technically, they're right (5, Insightful)

oncehour (744756) | about 9 years ago | (#13692479)

Once again, it's a case of corporations trying to protect the status quo, more than it is of an actual individual problem occuring with this instance. To not kneejerk at this instance would be to have it thrown into their face if someone else stole their intellectual property. Additionally, if the maps were released to a widespread audience freely for a significant amount of time, any hope at commercial opportunities for using the map would have pretty well been destroyed. It may not be a likely scenario, but an example of the logic that could have lead to this.

Personally, I believe maps should have their own subsection within Intellectual Property laws. People do need an incentive to make them generally, but with aerial photographs, this is getting easier and easier as time goes on. Blueprinted building and track ways makes this even more trivial, and once you get down to it, a map is just a graphical representation of the factual geography of a location. I believe the subway company could do better to just pick up a few advertising contracts, brand the maps with advertising, and release under the Creative Commons.

However, based on the current corporate mindset around adapting to technology and kneejerk reactions to the words "file-sharing" this sort of idea is probably long off.

Re:Technically, they're right (2, Interesting)

delta_avi_delta (813412) | about 9 years ago | (#13692540)

I think they have to be seen protecting their "Intellectual Property" in case someone else borrows the image and starts printing t-shirts, or using them for some other money-making purpose. You can buy everything from t-shirts to tea-towels with the London underground map embossed, and many tourists do, so I guess it's a bit of a cash cow.

That said it's ridiculous that tourist guides, free maps, and free-to-view billboards can carry the image, yet I can't load it onto an iPod. The first thing I do in any new city is take a photo of the metro-system with my phone, I'm not sure how they're going to police against that.

Well, THEY're in copyright violation of the street (1)

crovira (10242) | about 9 years ago | (#13692550)

I mean where does it end? (Really!)

Re:Technically, they're right (1)

turnstyle (588788) | about 9 years ago | (#13692545)

"it's not like there are any losses or damages as a result of this"

ah, but what if the NYC MTA (the metropolitan transit authority) licenses use of the subway map image to 3rd party organizations, such as travel books, t-shirt vendors, etc? btw, I think there's also a trademark issue here, and not just copyright.

Re:Technically, they're right (5, Funny)

CptTripps (196901) | about 9 years ago | (#13692551)

That was my thought's not like they are SELLING the maps. I'd venture a guess that only about 5%-10% of the people that rids that system every day have an iPod, and lets say 5% of them have the map...are they REALLY loosing anything?

To the Subway iPod thingy Programmer: Shame on you for not asking first...but nice job

To the Subway People: Shame on you for being this petty.

To the Subway Restaurants: I'll take a Cold-Cut Combo with Lettuce, Green Peppers, Black Olives, and Salt & Pepper.

Re:Technically, they're right (1)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13692598)

To the Subway People: Shame on you for being this petty.

To keep their trademark, they MUST be this petty. The law forces them to (or they'll lose their trademark). Having said, if they do issue this guy with a license for free, then would you really call them petty? Talk about jumping to rash conclusions.

Having said that, they are broke and according to this poster [] they're issuing licenses for $500. So it's quite possible they won't issue a license for free.

Re:Technically, they're right (4, Funny)

deaddrunk (443038) | about 9 years ago | (#13692613)

are they REALLY loosing anything?

No they're restraining something.

Re:Technically, they're right (1)

richieb (3277) | about 9 years ago | (#13692578)

Technically the subway co. of NY city are right. It *is* copyright infringement and the map *was* distributed without their permission.

Hold on a second. How are the subways funded? Doesn't large part of the MTA's budget come from city taxes? There is a reason the map is available at no cost - we have already paid for it.

Re:Technically, they're right (1)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13692635)

Doesn't large part of the MTA's budget come from city taxes? There is a reason the map is available at no cost - we have already paid for it.

In that case, I think you paid for the creation of said map and should be able to do anything you want with it. Print it on bags without a license, sell it on the corner street, change it however you like, publish it on your website.

A company should either make it on their own, or give up some of their priviledges when the government funds them. But then again, the government doesn't really care about protecting people's rights, do they?

Re:Technically, they're wrong (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692589)

What exactly are they claiming copyright on?

You can not copyright factual information. See eg Feist v Rural Telephone where the US Supreme Court ruled that lists of numbers in a phone book was not copyrightable.

The names of the subway stations, their geographic locations, and the fact that rail lines connect them, are all facts which are not copyrightable. So I'm wondering just what in this image is subject to copyright.

If you make a map and add something to it, you can claim copyright. Like say you made a map which highlighted certain tourist attractions, you can copyright that. But the locations of the streets are just facts which you can't claim copyright to.

Re:Technically, they're wrong (2, Informative)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13692642)

And that's why he wasn't sent a cease and desist when he made his own map using the facts. From the article:

I'm very aware that they are copyright violations, but I'm not trying to make money or do anything malicious. I'm not in this to piss people off.

I'd say this guy knew he was breaking the law, which is why he didn't kick up a stink. Everyone is actually acting fairly amicably in this situation (based on my impression from the article anyway).

what does this have to do with apple? (2, Insightful)

ralinx (305484) | about 9 years ago | (#13692432)

ok... some guy provides copyrighted material so it can be used with iPods... in what way is this an apple story? Should a story be posted everytime someone releases an mp3 of a copyrighted song because it can be used on an iPod?

Re:what does this have to do with apple? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692666)

in what way is this an apple story?

The story is on Slashdot. It isn't a Google story. It isn't a Microsoft bash. Therefore it's an Apple story. Simple process of elmination.

London Underground map too? (3, Insightful)

daern (526012) | about 9 years ago | (#13692433)

Funnily enough, the people who own the rights to the London Underground map, which is arguably one of the world's best recognised maps, also protect it fiercely, so I'd be surprised if another cease and desist letter wasn't in the post as we speak...

Do taxes pay for these maps? (2, Insightful)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about 9 years ago | (#13692435)

I guess the city makes an ass load of money off those maps? :)

Re:Do taxes pay for these maps? (3, Insightful)

thinkzinc (668822) | about 9 years ago | (#13692491)

Maybe this is more of an issue to the company that has a contract to print the maps? Less maps needed, fewer maps to print...

A taxpayer funded service (4, Insightful)

plnrtrvlr (557800) | about 9 years ago | (#13692594)

Here's where I wish I had mod points... always seem to have them when I can't find anything to mod, never when I want to. You're probably closer to the truth than you know on this. It would seem that the cities in question would applaud something like this: someone else helping them to distribute a map that normally costs them money to distibute themselves. Hoever, if you "follow the money" it's probably the printer/publisher of the subway maps that is behind the complaint. Those people aren't in the least bit interested in providing a service to the people who use the subway, they just wnt to charge the city as much money as they can. A few phone calls to the right people and next thing you know we have another stupid copyright infringement issue. This isn't so much an issue with copyright law as it is an issue to take up with the city council: they need to be pressured to make this into a freely distributable service since the taxpayers ultimately pay for it anyways.

Seems pretty clear (1)

saphena (322272) | about 9 years ago | (#13692437)

The map has a perfectly clear copyright claim in the bottom left hand corner - what was Mr Bright thinking? Their notice is even clearer then his " is ©2005 Little Bill Productions"

Duh. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692441)

How is this an issue?

If you don't enforce the copyright, you lose it ... the city needs some sort of nominal licensing agreement and/or at least some sort of minimal consideraion paid. If they neglect these issues, then they will have little recourse when someone else decides to start selling exact replicas of their maps.

Re:Duh. (2, Informative)

Vengeance (46019) | about 9 years ago | (#13692475)

"They will have little recourse when someone else decides to start selling exact replicas of their maps"


People need access to subway maps, and getting them from the MTA is like pulling teeth. This despite the fact that when you can find a token booth with a clerk who actually HAS such maps, you can get one for free.

That's right, NYC doesn't sell these maps, it gives them away.

So perhaps they don't NEED to have any recourse against those who would sell such copies?

I don't think that an image such as a municipal subway map should even BE copyrightable. By rights it should be public-domain information.

Re:Duh. (1)

strcmp (908668) | about 9 years ago | (#13692564)

getting them from the MTA is like pulling teeth

I don't know if you meant paper maps, but here [] is a New York subway map, from the MTA, free of charge. You can even download it as a PDF.

Re:Duh. (1)

awe_cz (818201) | about 9 years ago | (#13692568)

I don't know anything about financing public transport companies in States, but here in Europe (Czech Republic) are usually financed by both city and state. In Prague, for instance, this "public" part makes about 75% of the whole costs. I've already paid for the maps (at least for them!) by paying my taxes.

mandatory enforcement (2, Informative)

cbr2702 (750255) | about 9 years ago | (#13692537)

If you don't enforce the copyright, you lose it

Nope. That's trademark. Copyright does not require enforcement.

Relatedly, I would expect that distribution of their maps would only help them, so why shut this guy down?

Re:mandatory enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692616)

Nope. That's trademark. Copyright does not require enforcement.

True, but there is a presumption. If you let someone copy your material for a long period of time, it can be assumed that you didn't believe it was a copyright violation, or you didn't care. If the guy had had the maps up for several years, and then the MTA sued him, they would have to explain to the judge why they suddenly felt it was a copyright violation now, when they obviously didn't think so before. (The usual excuse is "I didn't know before, I just found out about the copying recently.")

Controversial... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692443)

Their map - their choice how it gets distributed...?

Sue away! (2, Informative)

DaFunker (898185) | about 9 years ago | (#13692450)

I'm not quite sure that owning a map of a subway system really takes away from people actually riding it, which I would hope would be the goal of subway operators. Kind of like because I own a Rand McNally atlas of the United States I never have to leave home. I can just go on fantastic voyages via my collection of pretty maps. You'd think the subway system management would realize that people having easy to access maps of their subway would actually help their passengers and probably increase their number of riders. Oh well, sue away!

Re:Sue away! (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | about 9 years ago | (#13692507)

There are reasons to protect with copyright other than preserving profit.

Perhaps the transit authority wants to make sure that all sources of the information are kept up to date. If they let anyone distribute it they can't be sure people will have an up to date map. If they insist people licence it then at least they can control this.

There are other potential problems as well. They simply avoid any issues by clamping down on all copying with no exceptions.

Re:Sue away! (1)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13692559)

There are reasons to protect with copyright other than preserving profit.

But aren't really applicable in this situation. Some choice quotes:
The financially strapped MTA

MTA has begun registering its colorful route symbols as trademarks and has sent more than 30 cease-and-desist letters to businesses

MTA has a licensing department
Not that I'm saying MTA is in the wrong, merely saying their concern IS monetary. There doesn't appear to be any controversy. Bright knew he was breaking the law, MTA sent him a cease and desist, he complied.

Having said that, does MTA receive any tax-breaks and/or funds for it's subway system? If so, I really believe that their work should involving the systems that they've received funds and/or tax breaks for should be placed in the public domain.

A company should either make it on their own, or give up some of their rights (not that companies actually have rights, not being a person and all).

I grew up in NYC (4, Insightful)

Vengeance (46019) | about 9 years ago | (#13692461)

Subway maps were very difficult to get. Technically they were free and available, but you had to be damned lucky to find a token booth clerk who actually had any in the booth.

A downloadable map makes a world of sense, and frankly I cannot understand just WHAT about a subway system map needs copyright protection? Is there some subway map counterfeiting operation out there? Does the system stand to lose ridership and money as a consequence of people being able to find their way around?

In summary, I consider this lawsuit to be insane and unnecessary. Noone but the lawyers will benefi.. Oh, yes, that's right.

Re:I grew up in NYC (2, Interesting)

BushCheney08 (917605) | about 9 years ago | (#13692555)

I would imagine that they don't want to be held liable in case the maps are wrong or out of date or something. Technically, it's a copyright violation. OTOH, it's free publicity for them and a convenience to their riders. Totally a situation of which way the wind is blowing today.

Re:I grew up in NYC (2, Informative)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13692570)

In summary, I consider this lawsuit to be insane and unnecessary.

There was no law-suit. A cease and desist was issued to Bright, he complied. He then went and made his own map that he uploaded under the CC license, he hasn't been sent a new cease and desist for that map. MTA is broke, it's recently begun trademarking its symbols and issuing licenses to use them. They couldn't allow Bright to continue and still have their trademark be valid.

Re:I grew up in NYC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692674)

i live in nyc and the mta being broke is a joke. arch_result=1&stid=5 []

every other year its a surplus this or a devicit of that in the hundreds of millions. someone at the mta cant count.

then of course the 25 dollar fine for drinking on the train will clear all that up if its the case. arch_result=1&stid=5 []

Re:I grew up in NYC (3, Informative)

gowen (141411) | about 9 years ago | (#13692593)

A downloadable map makes a world of sense
Doesn't it just. That's probably why THE MTA ALREADY PROVIDES ONE [] . I found this one by typing "NY Subway Map" into google and hitting "I feel lucky".

Re:I grew up in NYC (2, Funny)

jeti (105266) | about 9 years ago | (#13692602)

The copyright is necessary as an incentive to produce subway maps in the first place.

I love the fact.... (1)

Gardenhead (877036) | about 9 years ago | (#13692466)

I love the fact that Chicago chose not to sue, even though I think they were on this site as well. Woot for Chicago.

Re:I love the fact.... (1)

CaptainFork (865941) | about 9 years ago | (#13692509)

In which case Chicago's trade mark protection will lapse and there will be no way to stop anyone distributing an incorrect (eg out of date) map as though it were official. Planning to travel in Chicago any time soon? Better be careful you have the right map!

Re:I love the fact.... (1)

RWerp (798951) | about 9 years ago | (#13692521)

I think that this guy is stupid. He could ASK for permission, it cost him nothing.

Re:I love the fact.... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | about 9 years ago | (#13692576)

He could ASK for permission, it cost him nothing.

Of course asking for permission doesn't cost anything, but would he receive it for free as well? A quick look at the links in the article doesn't mention any licensing policies, so I couldn't see if they are handing out free licenses.

Re:I love the fact.... (1)

RWerp (798951) | about 9 years ago | (#13692614)

Since the MTA seems to have problems with distributing their maps, they should welcome such initiative.

But they may be too busy to notice the opportunity.

Re:I love the fact.... (2, Informative)

ifwm (687373) | about 9 years ago | (#13692532)

repeat after me C-O-P-Y-R-I-G-H-T trademark is completely different, copyright can be selectively enforced

I for one et al (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692469)

Slashdot EeziPost (TM) MK 1.0.001 (beta) TRIFECTA SOUVENIR EDITION
my $topic_item = subway_map_pirate
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[ ] I Haven't RTFA, but... $random_opinionated_comment
[ ] Slashdotted already!. I bet their server runs on $topic_item too
[ ] Soul_sucking registration required
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[ ] Imagine a beowulf cluster of those
[X] In Soviet Russia, $topic_item owns you!
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[X] Netcraft confirms $topic_item is: [ ] dead [X] dying
[ ] But have the inventors thought of what will happen if $random_amateur_insight
[X] Once again the USA is clamping down on my [1] Amendment rights.
[ ] You insensitive clod
[X] But people who download music from P2P networks are more likely to buy the map
[ ] Cue DVD Jon-type crack in 3..2..1
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[ ] "Yeah, but does it run Linux?"; if($summary has 'linux') add "Oh, wait..."
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[ ] Still no cure for cancer
[ ] "()*%£^" No Carrier

Someone, someday will RTFA (4, Informative)

The Slashdotted (665535) | about 9 years ago | (#13692474)

Bright also used a map that became outdated when the BART system extended one of its lines and shortened another, said Jim Allison, a spokesman for BART. "We don't have a problem with people disseminating information about BART," Allison said. "We do have a problem with people pirating information that is incorrect," he said. The spokesman added that BART is preparing to unveil its own free, downloadable iPod map on its website. So they don't want wrong info, and they will provide their own info for FREE soon. They need to protect their trademark for it to be valid. Why is this a problem? It does not "search for a station". It is a resized JPG. NeXT thing you know Apple will go after him for a "Ipod map"

Re:Someone, someday will RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692556)

they need to protect their trademark for it to be valid.

Why would a SUBWAY SYSTEM need a trademark? It's not like you are going to confuse it with all the other subway systems in the city!

TFA says nothing about trademarks anyway. It's copyright. Learn the difference - you don't need to defend copyright in the same way as trademarks.

Really, why is this map copyrighted in the first place? If this is a public service, funded by tax dollars, it shouldn't be copyrighted. I thought the USA government couldn't hold copyright?

they will provide their own info for FREE soon.

I take it you've never had any dealings with any organisation over the size of about twenty people then? There's this thing called "bureaucracy". When organisations say things like "this thing we need to do voluntarily will be done Real Soon Now", what it actually means is "we'll do it when we get around to it, stop bugging us". Typically, such delays are measured in years, not days or months.

Re:Someone, someday will RTFA (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 9 years ago | (#13692659)

So they don't want wrong info, and they will provide their own info for FREE soon.

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the definition of 'soon' when used by a public utility/agency/department. Soon, to such an entity, means "maybe one day."

Until they have a current map that is actually available, they've got no business bitchin about out-of-date maps.

They need to protect their trademark for it to be valid.

Uh, yeah, sure, whatever. Quit smoking the glue, ok?

Shameless plug (1, Interesting)

AdamInParadise (257888) | about 9 years ago | (#13692480)

If you want to find your way in the NYC Subway, you can download a legal subway guide for your mobile phone or BlackBerry from my website [] . It does not use the official subway map.


Re:Shameless plug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692514)

Yeah thanks a bunch. Anyone know how to get out of Cracksville, it getting dark.

Freundlich (1)

dorkygeek (898295) | about 9 years ago | (#13692481)

... does not seem to be that friendly.

Only $500 dollar licence (1)

AC-x (735297) | about 9 years ago | (#13692485)

Reading the it seems that New York MTA are offering a 1 year licence for $500, which seems fairly reasonable to me. I mean it still seems a bit silly, especially as a) MTA are offering the map to download anyway and b) no other metro service is complaining, but it's not like they're demanding some ridiculous per download licence or the like.

Re:Only $500 dollar licence (1)

thinkzinc (668822) | about 9 years ago | (#13692511)

Reading the it seems that New York MTA are offering a 1 year licence for $500, which seems fairly reasonable to me. I mean it still seems a bit silly, especially as a) MTA are offering the map to download anyway and b) no other metro service is complaining, but it's not like they're demanding some ridiculous per download licence or the like.

Not silly when the website has advertisements.

It is kind of a grey area... (5, Interesting)

joshiz (684675) | about 9 years ago | (#13692493)

While there is a separate private company formed for the NY subway, it still is a quasi-public agency, subsidised (at least in part) by taxpayers through various taxes on fuel, sales, property, etc. Simply by letting anyone into the Metro system (whether they pay a fare and use a train or not), they are agreeing it is a publicly available sysetem. With that in mind, the maps are subject to being copied under "fair use" criteria. If someone was using them to profit, to attack the subway system, or any other use that would be harmful -- then I could understand an argument against such a use, but in this case, they are being used for the same reason as their original intent -- so people can find and plan where they are going.

I would argue if complete systemwide paper maps were available for free on every train, then there would be no need for people to download them for use on their iPod. Or, better yet, if the NY Transit Authority made the maps available for download then it wouldn't be a problem either. In SF there is a fully downloadable hi-res pdf of the entire MUNI map so how can they argue what platform you are using it on?

As far as the London Journey Planner (as it is called there), I could understand their defense because they have spent million of dollars and countless person-hours developing that map, the typeface, the signs that go in the trains, etc. Certain elements were invented by that very London Underground map and while they may seem obvious to us now, before that, most transport systems did not have an adequate graphical language for representing their systems until the London Journey Planner came to be. With that in mind, the London Transit Authority could sue every major city in the world for copyright infringement so I think this really has no merit.

If something is working for the greater good and works, it becomes very hard to stake a claim for it and win. We shall see.

Re:It is kind of a grey area... (2, Insightful)

OldeClegg (32696) | about 9 years ago | (#13692523)

"a quasi-public agency"

Bingo. When public ifrastructure services are relegated to market driven private interests, some degree of public ownership rights must be maintained. If the subway owners want to sell private property, they should do so in the private domain, on their own and without tax funded investment.

Re:It is kind of a grey area... (1, Informative)

sparkhead (589134) | about 9 years ago | (#13692569)

"Or, better yet, if the NY Transit Authority made the maps available for download then it wouldn't be a problem either."

The map is available, linked in the text of the summary above. Maybe RTFA is too much to ask, but how about reading the summary?

Although I do not like MTA (3, Insightful)

layer3switch (783864) | about 9 years ago | (#13692498)

I live in NYC and do not like MTA at all. However I have to agree with MTA here.
(hint* pay extra attention to the last part.)

from []

No part of this program, product, software, or item, including the look or feel of the program, product, software, or item may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including the use of information storage and retrieval systems, without the express written permission of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (or other appropriate corporate entity). This prohibition against unlawful or unauthorized reproduction is intended to include all U.S. domestic use as well as protections afforded under any international forum or law, including, but not limited to G.A.T.T.

Each individual document published by MTA on the World Wide Web may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that individual document.

Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel or otherwise any license or right under any patent or trademark of MTA or any third party. Except as expressly provided above nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any MTA copyright.

Note that any product, process, or technology in this document may be the subject of other intellectual property rights reserved by MTA, and may not be licensed hereunder.


Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of implied warranties, so the above exclusion may not apply to you.

Any MTA publication may include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes may be periodically made to these publications; these changes will be incorporated in new editions of these publications. The MTA may make improvements and/or changes in the products and/or the programs described in these publications at any time without notice.

Should any viewer of an MTA published document respond with information including feedback data, such as questions, comments, suggestions, or the like regarding the content of any such MTA document, such information shall be deemed to be non-confidential and MTA shall have no obligation of any kind with respect to such information and shall be free to reproduce, use, disclose and distribute the information to others without limitation. Further, The MTA shall free to use any ideas, concepts, know-how or techniques contained in such information for any purpose whatsoever including but not limited to developing, manufacturing and marketing products incorporating such information.

In short, I think, all he had to do was just post his subway map as his suggestion and it could have easily bypassed this whole mess.

Since he seems to placed himself as sole publisher of this "unique" map as in claiming the map as "his own", he just opened himself with can of worm. Follow this;

from []

So what's this all about?

Simply put, I decided that it'd be pretty cool to build this website so you can put subway maps onto your iPod Photo. As I write this, I've only got one city up so far -- well, almost. I skipped Staten Island. Do people actually ride that subway?

Eventually I'd like to open the site up to allow other visitors to submit their own maps. One step at a time, though. ...

Is this all just some blatant self-promotion?

Is all of it? Of course not. Is some of it? Sure! I really thought the idea of putting my subway map onto my iPod was cool. Why should I keep it all to myself? If it's helpful to me, then why not to the rest of you?

All he had to do was just state that "My suggestion to MTA; MTA maps on iPod", then publish your "suggestion" on the site with maps. Since there was no specific instruction on how to respond to MTA regarding "suggestion", it will be totally within his privilege given by MTA to do so without paying single cent or license.

Regardless, I think, publishing copyrighted material and states that its "HIS MAP", just sounds arrogant, and I think, this round, MTA has all the rights to be pissed off about.

Re:Although I do not like MTA (1, Flamebait)

thinkzinc (668822) | about 9 years ago | (#13692520)

I really thought the idea of putting my subway map onto my iPod was cool.

This guys seems like a tool. It sure looks like he's passing the map off as his own. "My subway map"?

Knee jerk reaction (1)

Jeffv323 (317436) | about 9 years ago | (#13692499)

Can somebody give me some insight into why people feel the need to immediately scream copyright violation and put and end to a cool thing like this? What possible reason or scenario could the subway be harmed in this situation? It just baffles my mind that someboy is getting paid to spend time to fight a fight that is so absolutely unneccesary.

This brings to mind a similar situation where the current owner of the old GI JOE cartoon series placed a cease and desist on an incredibly creative guy who redubbed / reedited some GI JOE PSAs and posted them on the Internet. I mean how in the world can this be destructive? Granted it is their right, but why is it a problem. Why spend the time and money protecting yourself (as that is what the law is for) from something that is completely docile and is of no worry?

Re:Knee jerk reaction (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 9 years ago | (#13692530)

The problem is -- if you have someone who does bad things with your copyright (for those without an imagination -- imagine GI Joe bootlegs being distributed w/ redubbed language to make it suggest that Americans victimize some racial groups), and you don't try to have them shut down (or to pay you a licensing fee), then you weaken your case for any issues that might come up in the future.

So, even though one instance might not seem worth worrying about, the next one might. If you get the person to pay a token licensing fee, then you might be covered for protecting your IP. (I'm not a lawyer, so I could be wrong on that last point)

Re:Knee jerk reaction (1)

fish waffle (179067) | about 9 years ago | (#13692557)

...if you have someone who does bad things with your copyright ..., and you don't try to have them shut down (or to pay you a licensing fee), then you weaken your case for any issues that might come up in the future.

I keep hearing/reading this as an argument for this kind of absurd protectionism. It's based on the idea that a company establishes precedent by ignoring a copyright violation. But by enforcing copyright in a clearly inappropriate situation does not a company also demonstrate that it is a poor steward of its "IP"? Agreements or regulations imposed by such a company should therefore have less weight, and be more open to re-interpretation or re-evaluation by a court.

Article (3, Informative)

dorkygeek (898295) | about 9 years ago | (#13692504)

New York MTA - Cease and Desist

January 01, 2005 -- 03:25 PM

To: iPod Subway Maps Submissions
Subject: ipodsubwaymaps fedback: your unauthorized use and coying [SIC] of NYC subway map
Date: 9/14/05: 12:52 PM

We have no record of you having a license to include MTA's copyrighted New York City subway map on your website, or for you to authorize others to download a copy of the subway map.

You must cease and desist immediately. Take the NYC subway map off your webiste and confirm to me by email that you will not do this again. If you disagree with any of the above or otherwise wish to discuss this further, call or email me. Thank you

Senior Associate counsel
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
347 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Correct informaction is the case (2, Insightful)

Pecisk (688001) | about 9 years ago | (#13692506)

Problem I guess there is that subway co. should protect this info that way that they allow to distribute it - BUT it comes exactly from them, so there is correct information all over the place. Sometimes copyright protection is used for such simply reasons - not for money.

Freundlich (3, Funny)

Einherjer (569603) | about 9 years ago | (#13692508)

funny thing is that "Freundlich" in German means something along the way of "friendly","cordial","pleasant" :-)

Public information should not be made public. (2, Interesting)

MTO_B. (814477) | about 9 years ago | (#13692510)

Public information should not be made public... unless you pay a license fee.

This is crazy, so it's a license for their own design,, not others... But how are other's suppossed to make subway maps unless using official information that should be made public anyway?

Government Copyright and Public Domain (2, Interesting)

sofakingon (610999) | about 9 years ago | (#13692549)

Last time I checked, works created by a United States government agency are public domain at the moment of creation. Does this not count for city/county/state governments? I'm a Federal contractor and all of the work that I do belongs to the Federal Government. Is there something I'm missing?

Re:Government Copyright and Public Domain (1)

Detritus (11846) | about 9 years ago | (#13692665)

Federal copyright law only puts the works of employees of the federal government (not contractors) in the public domain.

So What? (1)

FlipSideXp (692564) | about 9 years ago | (#13692553)

The NYC Subs would benefit from this even if they didnt actually permit the maps distribution. Shorsighted-ness is the problem here, why not let other poeple utilize thier free anway map to effectivly utilize the subway???

share the wealth (of knowledge) (2)

thor (3901) | about 9 years ago | (#13692554)

any of the more than 9,000 people who downloaded the NYC and SFC maps care to share?


Think of New Orleans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692563)

Dear capitalist shills now is the time to drone about the dangerous socialism. The subway system of most cities is still not a bastion of true capitalism!They are either wholly or in part government owned or financed in some way by tax money. Clearly the concept of public utilites is outmoded and against capitalism. The notion of governments trying to provide services like transportation needs to be abolished and capitalism to take over this function to provide more profits for transportation companies instead of governments running buses and trains at or near loss to provide services for its citiziens.

Just think of what would have befallen the United States if we had huge outmoded national government owned bus services or train services with a national train network that rivalled nations like Germany or Japan. The federal and state governments could have sent their huge public fleets of buses to rescue the negroes of New Orleans! What a shame that would have been. Those negroes were best served underwater. The private sector could better have handled this emergency! Puff Daddy if he were to tell the negroes to evacuate instead of a mere government inferior like a mayor or governor; would certainly be listened to. Word is born, in dis hizzy, fo shizzle.

It is good to see the partially privately owned NYC subway system is laying the iron fist on the droogie who violated the copyright of their map. We can look forward to even more progress like this if the NYC subway is wholly entered into the capitalist fold and the NYC government lays its yellow hands off. Capitalism above all else, the free markets settle everything, let the bodies bend not the cold steel of capitalism!

Public paid for the engineering map is based on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692575)

The original map is based on a publicly funded engineering drawing. The only thing they could possibly copyright would be any additions of pretty colors or whatnot. But are they paying the city for the use of the original engineering data? They are selling public information, and making a profit, right? Isn't that like using the streets for making a profit but not paying for their use like truckers have to pay?

So go find the original map and copy that.

If they keep up with the lawsuit crap, ask them why the engineers can keep updating their map without a license. Then ask them why they aren't paying the city for the original map. That should shut them up.

Greed sucks.

Leverage PDA's/web like Washington DC did (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692579)

If only they could do like Washington DC did, and make
a "live map" that shows the positions of all the trains
superimposed over the subway map. You can see this
application in any station manager's kiosk in a browser or on
Metro employee PDA's.

Not screwing the little guy? (1)

standards (461431) | about 9 years ago | (#13692581)

Hopefully, NYC is simply doing what it needs to do to protect its legal rights over the map. These cease-and-desist letters and fees are not always about screwing the little guy - sometimes they are about making sure you don't lose your own rights in the eyes of the law.

The real but relatively inconsequential fee of $500 might offer NYC some protection.

And therefore, hopefully the $500 will be reimbursed by Bloomburg or some high level MTA official - as a private citizen who knows that this is a neat, innovative idea.

Maps are simple.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13692582)

Go into a paint program and make another map. Make it better than the MTAs and give it away. There are not copyright issues there.

surley they should pay him?! (1)

che.kai-jei (686930) | about 9 years ago | (#13692623)

permisson and so on is technically right. but he didn't sell it to people on the subway and prevent others form getting the fre version surely?

i think he should counter sue and at least get nyc transit to pay the bandwidth costs for all those downloads
he gave them a service as an alternate distribution channel! ie more people have the map whilst the nyc transit peeps have not had to pay for all teh extra bandwidth

There ought to be a middle ground (1)

el_womble (779715) | about 9 years ago | (#13692634)

Somebody / thing paid lots of money to research and develop the tube map. Its clearly something that people find so useful that its priceless (like water not diamonds). They need compensation for their works, but how much?

Is there a copyright equivalent to compulsery purchase orders? In the UK, if something big is happening, and your house is in the middle of where they want to put it, you can be issued with a compulsery purchase order. An independant commision examines the value of your property and your land and offers the market value or greater. Couldn't a similar case be made for something like the tube map, and then it could be placed in the public domain.

In this case it could be that when the copyright infringement gets to courts its within the judges power to say... hey, you were in the wrong, you did violate copyright I hereby slap your wrists, however, the works you were copying has great value to the public, and it is being used as a cash cow, I declare this works and any derivatives there of public domain. The defendant walks away with sore wrists and a smile, the prosecution walk away with a cheque.

Maybe this would discourage big corporations from taking such cases to court, in fear that their works could be stripped from them. It probably wouldn't effect music and video as they could never be concidered essential to the public good, but Microsoft would have a tought time demonstrating that with 95% of the market, and therefor the economy, their works shouldn't be in the public domain.

In the old days public domain meant that anyone could make money off a works - and that must have been a kicker for content creators. Now public domain means that no one can make any money out of it, as people are free to download and copy for free (who would pay for a free service?). I thinks thats an easier pill to swallow, but then my income doesn't depend on royalites from my lifes work.

Might not be copyrightable information (3, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 9 years ago | (#13692650)

I wonder if the MTA can own a copyright? Federal government can not. I think MTA is a regional government organization...

While the rendering of the map might be copyrightable, the information about the routes is not. He should have someone else render a map.


For the love of... (2, Insightful)

Dreamland (212064) | about 9 years ago | (#13692654)

So this guy creates a web site, and puts copyrighted images on it. For good measure he then plasters the site with Google ads to make money off it. (Or maybe that was his intention from the get-go?) Then he complains when the copyright holder wants him to remove the copyrighted images for which he has no license from his ad-driven web site? Right...

Lawyers Lawyers Lawyers (1)

ff1324 (783953) | about 9 years ago | (#13692655)

Regardless of who wins this little spat, one person will always come out ahead of where they were. The damned LAWYERS. Win or lose, they get their paycheck. Now, is it really prudent spending taxpayer subsidy dollars to pay lawyers to protect info that they are giving away anyway? Lesseee....take my money, print maps, give me maps, take my money, pay lawyer to say I can't share maps.

I wish I would have gone to law school.

LOST pervention (1)

xaosflux (917784) | about 9 years ago | (#13692667)

The monetary losses that the NYC subway system may face are substatial: 1. Make the subway system confusing 2. Do not provide maps 3. Prevent anyone else from publishing maps 4. Riders get lost, have to take extra subway trips 5. Profit!

instead... (1)

youta (900287) | about 9 years ago | (#13692668)

Why not release a program that downloads the map(s) (in various formats) and converts it iPod/Nano/etc?
That way it is the user exercising their "fair use" - no different than if they put a physical map in a copier to zoom it down.

But really, NYC/SF/etc should just avoid the hooplah and take an hour and post them themselves and let people get them directly from the source. It's the right thing to do and they would look better and more responsive for it. (?: how do they look now?)

US Government Workers Can't Copyright Things (2, Insightful)

samuel4242 (630369) | about 9 years ago | (#13692672)

Any work produced by the US Government can't be copyrighted: ml#toc30 []

I don't know about state or local agencies like the transit authorities, but it would seem to make sense that they shouldn't be allowed to copyright their materials either. The same principle is at stake. The taxpayers pay for the creation of the work so the taxpayers should share ownership.
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