Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Online map maker sued by government

Online map maker Virtual Map, the company behind and notorious for sending out hundreds of lawyer's letters demanding $10,000 or more from those who had reproduced its maps on their websites, has this time been sued by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) for... guess what? Copyright infringement! Hooray! From TODAYonline:
In their opening statement on Monday, SLA said their civil suit centres on whether Virtual Map has used the base materials given by the government agency and made alterations to them. The case isn't about the "usual form of infringement" where one party copies a portion of the work without significant alteration, in which the only issue is whether or not the part taken is substantial.

Yesterday, three more SLA staff members took the stand.

To Virtual Map's claim that the digitised data it received from the SLA was "raw" and bore "no substantial similarity" to their product, SLA charged that there was substantial reproduction on the part of Virtual Map.

As an ex-licensee of SLA who had access to SLA's work, it had "copied SLA's 'skeleton'", the result of "hard work, skill, labour and money invested by the Government".

SLA highlighted the "numerous tell-tale signs, errors and fingerprints" in Virtual Map's work. The firm has "neither the skill to create a map ab initio (from scratch) nor the facilities to map building shapes with any precision other than copy what has already been done", said SLA's expert witness, British map-maker expert, land surveyor and law lecturer Carl Calvert.
I have no sympathy for Virtual Map. In fact, when I first read the news early this morning, I broke out with laughter. This is a company that has been making money all these years by threatening so many people who had used its street maps. I'm so glad that it is getting a taste of its own medicine now.

Btw, I strongly believe that all street maps should be in the public domain and no one should be paying any amount at all to use them in their websites or flyers.


Anonymous said...

Fully agree! All map information should be made free either by StreetDirectory, SLA, or Google.

The question is whether SLA lawsuit will stifle innovation?

Anonymous said...

About time!

Anonymous said...

They even charge people for deeplinking.

Anonymous said...

I believe that SLA's action against Virtual Map has something to do with the fact that a lot of people have complained to the government about the company.

Anonymous said...

Ya they have someone who scans the web to look for maps that are similar to theirs... then they will get their lawyers to send legal letters.

Anonymous said...

Pay back time.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Street maps should be free.

Anonymous said...

the sla is planning its own online map website that's why it decided to sue virtual map.

Anonymous said... people are masters at extorting money from companies.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong.

So Virtual Map used to be a client of the SLA but then SLA terminiated its licensing agreement with them.

But Virtual Map carries on using the maps by modifying them.

So SLA sue them.


Anonymous said...

I hope SLA wins.

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