[Gdal-dev] MapTech / BSB Legal Issues
jvarga at boulder.net
Wed Sep 10 19:37:41 EDT 2003
EFF is the place to pose this excellent question. My belief is their
request is without merit. A friend and 3rd year law student
specializing in IP concurs but is digging further. Curious though, was
it truly a "request" or an order for cease and desist? If it was the
former, chances are their attorney's have already told them to ask
nicely as there was not much recourse otherwise.
I would simply take your original mail (include a reference to
http://www.maptech.com) and forward to one of the following...
Fred von Lohmann, EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
fred at eff.org <mailto:fred at eff.org?SUBJECT=>
Wendy Seltzer, EFF Staff Attorney (Fair Use & Intellectual Property)
wendy at eff.org <mailto:wendy at eff.org>
Jason M. Schultz, EFF Staff Attorney (Intellectual Property / reverse
jason at eff.org <mailto:jason at eff.org>
ask at eff.org
...to let them decide who to forward it to.
The entire staff's bio's are at http://www.eff.org/contact/staff_bios.php
Relatedly, one of the counties here sells certain data (parcels and
address enhanced street center lines) for $.50 (US) per arc, exported to
shapefile. They say that purchasers are constrained legally to "not"
make the data available to other parties, including web applications.
However, the information contained within those shapefiles (i.e.,
coordinate info) is essentially public domain. You can't copyright
coordinate info, so how do the likes of GDT, NavTech, etc., keep their
data proprietary and protected, yet useful?
Has anyone run across similar scenarios?
Frank Warmerdam wrote:
> GDAL Users,
> I have been contacted by Maptech and I have been requested to remove the
> web page where I talk about the BSB file format, and provide source
> code for
> reading it.
> They seem to be claiming that the BSB file format is copyrighted by them,
> though it wasn't my understanding that a file format could be
> I am not prepared to comply with their request until they can provide
> sort of supporting information indicating they truely have "ownership" of
> the file format and that it is illegal for applications to support
> that file format for the purposes of interoperability.
> Maptech has not requested that anyone stop using the code I distribute;
> however, any firms interested in minimizing any possible downstream legal
> concerns may want to proactively drop use of the BSB driver from their
> GDAL builds.
> To that end, I have added a "--without-bsb" configure option on Unix.
> add this option when configuring GDAL and no BSB related code will be
> included in your builds. On Windows I added a line to the nmake.opt
> file related to BSB support. If the nmake.opt file does not declare
> the BSB_SUPPORTED macro then BSB support and source code will be omitted
> from the build. The changes went in this afternoon and should appear
> in tonights nightly snapshot.
> For those who are not aware, the BSB format is a compressed raster format
> used for distributing government nautical charts from a number of
> including Canada and the USA.
> While for me the BSB format is if no great importance, it is important to
> me to be able to write my own code to read file formats. For that reason
> I don't want to immediately cave in till I get some more information on
> whether their claims have any validity.
> I am interested in any pointers folks can provide on precidents related
> to copyrighting file formats, or suggestions of an inexpensive
> intellectual property attorney. Even a student lawyer would help! I
> don't want to break the law, but I don't want to be give up if I am not.
> Best regards,
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