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First Google Maps Hack Takedown 325

Posted by timothy
from the how-about-an-ellroy-crime-site-map-of-LA dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite "users accelerating innovation" with Google Maps the 'hacks' are not immune from Google's legal team, who have taken down "Google Wallpapers for violating the terms of agreement. From a quick skim through the terms it would seem that most sites using the Google Maps data are in violation. Are Chicago Crime and Google Sightseeing next to go?" It may be a shame to shut down Google Maps offshoots, but that has to be the nicest take-down note I've ever seen; it's polite, friendly and reasonable. Update: 06/08 21:22 GMT by T : Below, a few more of the current uses for Google Maps.
An anonymous reader submits "The AP is running a story about the multiple uses for Google Maps. Among the uses, Tracking sexual predators in Florida, Guiding travelers to the cheapest gas nationwide, Pinpointing $1,500 studio apartments for rent in Manhattan, and Finding crime in Chicago. It'll be interesting to see if Google allows these sites to remain online or not."
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First Google Maps Hack Takedown

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  • Nicest Shut down? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @04:55PM (#12761780) Homepage
    So if RIAA sent you a bouquet of flowers with a cute, humorous, handwritten greeting card personally signed by the PR manager informing your court appearance date, it wouldn't be so bad?

    I don't think there is anything wrong for a listed company to protect its interest, control its IPs and maximize its profit, but the fanboy twist is totally unnecessary.
  • by MrByte420 (554317) * on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @04:58PM (#12761813) Journal
    AND they said PLEASE! Please of all things! Its wonderful.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:01PM (#12761844)
    too much google fetish for me
  • by martok (7123) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:03PM (#12761862)

    Though this is true to a point, there is something to be said about sending a notice to the site operator directly. Afaik, the *aa folks tend to harass upstream providers and do not contact site operators directly. Though, I am sure google would have done likewise if a favourable response was not fourthcoming.

  • by bagel2ooo (106312) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:04PM (#12761869)
    I didn't notice anything about google requesting a court appearance. If RIAA did what you stated above and came across in a manner that made you feel they were doing this for the greater interests of their other customers (Artists and Music License Purchasers) then it would be a whole different story. If they sent a bouquet of flowers ... and all, along with a simple request to have it taken down for the good of the upstart artist and other music patrons, I'm sure your take on it would be far different.
  • Re:Noooooooooo! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alphakappa (687189) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:05PM (#12761879) Homepage
    I don't think they will take down the craigslist-googlemaps mashup since they themselves praised it as a featured project on Google Code.

    There is a reason why this particular project got the takedown notice:
    1. The satellite/air imagery is probably not owned by Google - they must have licensed it from AirphotoUSA or whoever else is the supplier.
    2. The wallpaper site simply takes the images and stitches them together as a wallpaper - which means that are not simply incorporating a google product, but appropriating the images therein. Google's terms of use with their provider would necessisate the takedown.
  • by generic-man (33649) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:12PM (#12761948) Homepage Journal
    Don't worry. I'm sure the maps will be better once Google Maps is out of beta.

    You wouldn't trust a beta service to do something as vital as navigation, now would you?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:15PM (#12761971)


    "I am not sure how Google Sightseeing could be in trouble, except for trademark violation. They do not seem to be using the maps, but rather the satellite photos, which cannot be copyrighted."

    Why not? Because the photographs were taken remotely, in space, instead of using an SLR in some dude's hands? A photograph's a photograph, and certainly these particular photographs represent a sizeable investment for the photographer.

    I wouldn't be surprised at all if they're being used by Google under a very specific license from the service that provided them.

  • by N3WBI3 (595976) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:18PM (#12762006) Homepage
    No, Google was polite they explained themselves, did not start with "we'll sue your @$$"...
  • Leech? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:20PM (#12762017)
    You couldn't *pay* for the publicity that people like /. readers, admins, developers give for Google.

    Know the first thing I tell a new user who know bugger all about the Internet? www.google.com. In fact, I usually set it as their home page to make my life easier.

    That translates directly into advertising revenue, and I do it because they have a spectacularly good search system, very cool add on tools and they let us play with them for free. They know *exactly* what they're doing and I'm fine with it.

  • Google's Merits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ikegami (793066) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:23PM (#12762050)

    I don't see anyone arguing the merits of Google's action, so I will. From what I can see from the Google cache [66.102.7.104] of the web site, I see that following:

    1. They perform automated queries on Google to get the map pieces in order to produce composite images. (Terms of Service violation)
    2. They produced composite images from Copyrighted material. (Copyright violation)
    3. They hosted (distributed) the composite images made from Copyrighted material. (Copyright violation)

    This gives Google good reason to shut down "Google Wallpapers" as it stands. I don't think it Google has any claims against the python script itself, just its users (which includes "Google Wallpapers").

    This differs from "Google Sightseeing" and "Chicago Crime" (as far as I know, since I can't verify util the sites are back up), which only link to maps on Google, which means

    1. There are no automated queries. The user must click on the link to view the image.
    2. No derivative product is made. They only provide a link to Google.
    3. No distribution is made. The maps are solely on Google's server.
  • by shanen (462549) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:23PM (#12762053) Homepage Journal
    Frankly, I've been increasingly suspicious of Google since they decided it was such a neat idea to keep other people's email. That's something with serious opportunities for abuse--and there's no good reason these days. Everyone (who counts) has GBs of disk space and powerful CPUs, and there's no reason that the email couldn't be stored, indexed, and searched on your local machine. Why do they need *MY* email on *THEIR* machines? Something is wrong there.

    This new event is something different. It doesn't matter how polite they are about it. They are flexing their muscles, and putting on my historian's hat, power always gets abused. They talk about empowering the little guys and doing good, but when push comes to shove, look who got shoved.

  • by MikeTheYak (123496) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:25PM (#12762077)
    You almost had it. Google's ownership of copyrights actually does allow them to set the terms that they have. You can use their service however you see fit for the most part, but you can't COPY (or rebroadcast, or make a derivative work from, etc.) the information except under the rights they grant. It's not a contract; it's a license. It's the same mechanism the GPL uses to restrict what can be done with GPL-licensed software.
  • by Sierra Charlie (37047) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:32PM (#12762135)
    How did the parent get modded insightful?

    The maps are a copyrighted work. By default, you can't redistribute derivatives of that work unless the copyright holder explicitly grants permission.

    The terms of service explain your rights to the content... they don't restrict them.

    And yes... Fox can't dictate how you watch television. But try recording their lineup, stripping the commercials, and putting them on the Internet. :)

  • Oh spare me. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nobodyman (90587) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:32PM (#12762139) Homepage
    So if RIAA sent you a bouquet of flowers with a cute, humorous, handwritten greeting card personally signed by the PR manager informing your court appearance date, it wouldn't be so bad?
    Well, if I was serving up MP3's of $.50's latest album, yeah, it wouldn't be as bad. But your question is apples/oranges anyway. Yours is a piracy issue whereas Gogglemaps is a Terms of Use violation. Me and a friend were discussing just this very thing. In spite of what some Google employees might say about how they like to foster innovation and so on, if the terms of use say you can't do it you can pretty well expect that you will probably run afoul of Google. Without getting into the legality argument of certain Terms of Use, let me limit this to just an analysis of likelihood of getting on the wrong side of a lawyer. Caveat Scriptor. You are asking for trouble if:
    • You take someone elses content and pass it off as yours (even if you say "gee thanks google")
    • Violate a Terms of Use agreement. Even if it's the ToU is hopelessly vague you can bet that you'll get a call as soon as your site gets popular enough
    • You rush headlong into making a beta API the centerpiece of your website. Yeah, do it because it's neat, but don't whine when it breaks unless you want people to say "what the hell were you even thinking?". Even if it's Google's endless beta phase, if you rely on behaviour of a beta app, and then your site/app breaks... tough noogies.
    The gyst is that Google is a company that makes a product and wants to make money and has investors blah blah blah..., just like Microsoft or Wallmart. You can argue tell your blue in the face about right/wrong, nice/not nice, good/evil, but the simple fact is that if you do something that legalize says you shouldn't do, and you get burned... don't be surprised. Google is going to oversee what people are doing with the googemaps... if they like it, they'll take the idea and incorporate it into their business model, if they don't like it (don't like == taxes resources or threatens revenue), the lawyers come knocking.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @05:40PM (#12762206)
    AFAIK, the Mafia from days of old would send a pre-ransom letter to potential victims that was flowing with praise and gratitude. The idea was to make a normally unpleasant act easier for both parties - nobody gets physically injured and the correspondence is very civil.

    So yeah, being polite doesn't mean that everything's cool.

    Anyway...
    more likely, since every other company sends harshly worded C&D letters, maybe Google just wants to be different.
  • Do Some Evil (Score:2, Insightful)

    by urdine (775754) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @06:00PM (#12762451)
    "It may be a shame to shut down Google Maps offshoots, but that has to be the nicest take-down note I've ever seen."
    Instead of "Do no evil" maybe the motto should be "Do evil with a smile"? These guys are no different than any other company. It may not have been their intention when they started, and the people at Google may not be evil, but by the very nature of being a publicly-owned company they have a LEGAL OBLIGATION to "protect their interests" which ultimately means stopping outside innovation like this. It's a shame, but that's what happens when $300 million isn't enough...
  • by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @06:06PM (#12762514)
    Uhhh yeah. Since we're speculating, don't you find it MUCH more likely that Google plans to offer businesses a way to tap into Google Maps for a fee?
  • by Mik3D (792355) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @06:23PM (#12762651) Journal
    Lets remember that Google Maps licenses its data from Navtech and Tele Atlas. The cost of a license to make maps is probably much less expensive than a license allowing third parties to distribute as well.
  • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @06:24PM (#12762662)
    They use GDT/TeleAtlas Data and guess what, they don't have the right to allow people to make derivitave works of TeleAtlas's work. I guess they could wait till Teleatlas sued them and the offending sites, but they probably don't want to lose their data license. This would be kind of like if you recorded a radio show that played a song (which they licensed the ability to play) then when you were selling or giving away copys on your website they asked you to stop.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @06:29PM (#12762718)
    I don't think there is anything wrong for a listed company to protect its interest, control its IPs and maximize its profit
    Google's demeanor aside, this is the real question.

    Google is in somewhat of a special position, because virtually 100% of their content comes from other websites! While issuing takedown notices, Google must remember it's only a matter of time until somebody challenges the google cache, or even of including textual context on the search results page.

    For now, I'm sure google is happy to honor any requests from people who don't want to be in their results, and such requests are rare. But what we must avoid is a cultural shift on the Internet, where companies feel it's irresponsible to "give away" anything besides advertising. I *can* imagine images.google.com becoming useless from opt-outs, and I can imagine companies trying to control who can link into their websites. It's the culture of sharing I worry about more than the legalities.

    It would be nice if google would allow use of the maps so long as there were an accompanying link and logo, or something.

  • by Your Pal Dave (33229) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @06:50PM (#12762937)
    TerraServer relies on PD USGS data, so they don't have to worry about their data providers limiting redistribution. Unfortunately, this means that they don't have any vector street capabilities, as TIGER doesn't quite cut it for routing.

    For the most part, though, I prefer looking at the topo image anyway.
  • Actually, yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sterno (16320) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @06:57PM (#12763030) Homepage
    I have to say that sending a polite, could you not do this, e-mail is very cool of google. For a time, I ran a radio station off of my server. Not many people listened to it, but anyhow, I got a letter from ASCAP asking me to not do it.

    There's letter was much more legalese ridden, etc, ultimately, they had the decency to send me a warning notice before they sicked a pack of lawyers onto me. After it was clear to me that they were serious about it, I stopped.

    If I was swapping songs and the RIAA sent me a letter saying, "hey could you please stop?", I probably would. Instead, they'd probably just sue me, and charge me a lot of money I don't have.

    So yeah, there's something to be said for how you say things.
  • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @07:00PM (#12763065)
    I'm actually surprised Google let others leech on their bandwidth like this without paying them or anything.

    Google is flush with IPO cash.
    Bandwidth is cheap, but ideas are expensive.

    By letting others "leech on their bandwidth" google fosters creativity. Creativity that has google at its foundation. If the result is even just a couple of good and new marketable uses of google's product, then the investment in bandwidth will have paid for itself a hundred-fold.

    Think of it as a cooperative model of development and progress - kind of like academia, instead of the hording model that most Western business is so focused on.
  • by Facekhan (445017) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @07:13PM (#12763188)
    Notice a big difference between a typical Cease and Desist letter often written in a very threatening manner by a lawyer who figures his bogus claims won't be checked by the recipient and a polite please stop because you are going to ruin the service for others letter from the project manager.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @09:53PM (#12764448)
    to thunderous applause.
  • by mattgreen (701203) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @11:12PM (#12764950)
    AOL Instant Messenger's Terms of Use forbid use of third party clients from connecting to the network. How come whenever AOL tries to lock out third party clients it is evil, but when Google does it, it's okay? Both are terms of service violations.

    Grandparent hit it head on: enough fawning over Google.
  • by mikeplokta (223052) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @02:05AM (#12765837)
    The USGS has street-level maps of the UK? URL please -- this will be very useful.

    Remember that Google Maps doesn't just cover the US.
  • by Threni (635302) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @07:17AM (#12766896)
    > I find it somewhat ironic that a company that makes a significant portion of
    > it's revenue by deep-linking to sites is sending takedown notices to people who
    > deep-link their site.

    It's really no more ironic than a cafe that makes money from selling food for consumption on the premises stopping you from eating food (bought elsewhere) on the premises.

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