Can I use that geospatial data or map?

Originally posted on 13th August 2o14:

It’s no big secret, anyone can make maps, ESRI even had some children showcasing their abilities at the user conference this year, So why employ a GIS specialist? Well, apart from getting the cartography right, the specialist can advise on the legalities of map & data production.

With data becoming ever more available and online maps being the norm, there is now more copyright infringement than ever before. In some workplaces it is common to see Google Earth imagery & Streetview imagery put into reports as screen grabbed images….you do know that this is a breach of use?

With everything being so accessible nowadays it is easy to see something relevant and screen grab it, then make it available to others, but have you ever stopped to think about whether you can?

It doesn’t seem like a large number but 13% of all Government Google Removal Requests have come from court orders for copyright offences (figures here) & there have been over 27,662,690 URL removal requests to Google due to copyright (figures here). Okay, so a lot of the URL removals are music related, music piracy is a huge problem. But this highlights the breadth and size of the issue at hand and the rate at which companies are being reported and fined.

Law is a complicated beast, so to help simplify things I put together a flowchart to help end users come to the right decision.

©Nicholas Duggan 2014
Flowchart of the questions you should ask before using data or maps

Although it does not cover the plethora of data or map licence types, this chart provides an easy reference as to whether you may or may not use the material you intend to use. Of course this may vary from country to country and on a case by case basis, also this does not serve as a legal document, legal advice should be obtained in case of dispute.




The thing that is damaging the GIS industry the most…..

For over a decade I’ve had to put up swinging between the different factions of GIS, today it stops….

A while back (names will be changed to protect the not so innocent) I was at a conference and bumped into an ESRI employee & introduced myself as Dragons8mycat, they responded by saying:

“You’re that guy that hates ESRI aren’t you?”

This got my heckles up and is what is fundamentally wrong with the GIS industry at the moment, it’s like a war, you are either in one camp or another and this should NEVER be the case, to get good at something you don’t read just one source, you don’t stick with one TV channel do you?…..

No, to learn and perform the best we can in life, we use MANY different sources. So why am I ridiculed for not liking parts or the services of software? Let’s be hones here, every single GIS on the market has its issues; ArcGIS crashes & is very pricey, QGIS (although 150% better than it was 3yrs ago) has a complicated GUI and lacks some basic features, CADCorp lacks proper 3D, MapInfo has transformation issues…….let’s not get me started on Tatuk.

At the same time there is a lot to love about every single one of those software and to get the job done I would have every single one of them on my machine; ArcGIS can do ANY geoprocess I need to do, QGIS is fast, reliable and integrates well with web development, CADCorp is fast, easy to use & has amazing support, MapInfo….is MapInfo…..but you can see where I am coming from.

Instead of fighting over which is best, segregating those who dare complain & creating systems with amazing features that turn back time or generate maps by retina recognition, the creators should look at what people are saying and fix what people are complaining about.

Excuse me for saying this but it is an industry in-joke that ArcGIS crashes constantly, since ArcMap 8.x there have been calls for an autosave feature, so why, at the pinnacle of GIS technology is there still online talk of constant crashes?……

Before you ask, I am impartial, I love all the GIS out there at present, each one of them has something great to shout about, if someone asked me what they should have in their office, at present I would be hard pushed to choose one, it would be a business case decision…..

This is me begging those developers and managers of the major GIS companies out there to stop bickering and take a look at yourselves, take the knocks on the chin and listen to what the public are saying (and not the bias devs around you).

I love you guys, all of you, but you’re giving me a headache…if you carry on like this someone is going to build a system that ticks all the boxes and I need you in my life too much to let that happen.