[Geowanking] Lawsuit Claims Mapmaking Firm Owns Your Neighborhood

Landon Blake lblake at ksninc.com
Fri Oct 17 11:01:48 PDT 2008

That was a very interesting article. Thanks for posting it.

Here is a question:

It's obvious to me that you can't copyright a neighborhood name. But I
wonder to what extent you might have a legitimate claim from an
organization to the previously "unknown". In this case, I'd say you
might have the actual geographic boundaries of the neighborhoods and the
algorithm/technique to compute those boundaries that can be protected.

As much as I believe in open access to spatial data, I think if you are
hired by a company to answer a previous unknown, that you can't turn
around and do with that data what you want.

To me, we'd have a completely different situation if the neighborhood
boundaries already existed, and weren't being calculated as part of the
mapping process.

On a side note, the USGS quad maps do show some neighborhood names.

Another side note: Most subdivision maps in the United States are given
a name, which then usually becomes the name of the neighborhood. For
example, I live in Little John's Creek Subdivision. Subdivision maps
definitely have a defined boundary recorded in the public record, so you
should have a hard time copyrighting that!

I wonder if Subdivision Maps were used in this process of mapping
neighborhoods, or if it was a strictly "social geography" thing.


-----Original Message-----
From: geowanking-bounces at lists.burri.to
[mailto:geowanking-bounces at lists.burri.to] On Behalf Of Ian White
Sent: Friday, October 17, 2008 10:42 AM
To: geowanking at lists.burri.to
Subject: Re: [Geowanking] Lawsuit Claims Mapmaking Firm Owns Your

yeah, as usual, taken out of context..I said local advertising
(print+online) is around $17b

but isn't the real interesting story more about spatial data and who
owns what...? come on, let's get it on! i know steve c and sean have
some strong opinions about this!

Ian White  ::  Urban Mapping Inc
690 Fifth Street  Suite 200  ::  San Francisco  CA  94107
T.415.946.8170 x800  ::  F.866.385.8266
From: geowanking-bounces at lists.burri.to
[geowanking-bounces at lists.burri.to] On Behalf Of Shane Ring
[shane.lee.ring at gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, October 17, 2008 10:34 AM
To: geowanking at lists.burri.to
Subject: [Geowanking] Lawsuit Claims Mapmaking Firm Owns Your

$17 billion really?  How was that number calculated?  Just curious...

The lawsuit highlights the growing importance of neighborhood data in
web applications and science. Since Wahl pioneered the industry four
years ago, other companies have entered the neighborhood-mapping field,
which has swollen into a big part of a $17 billion localized-mapping
industry, says Ian White, CEO of San Francisco-based Urban Mapping.

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