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Questions on the Etiquette of Redrawing Older Maps

  1. Jan 12, 2013 #1
    Backstory: I'm a geoscience undergrad at the moment and have often found it difficult to obtain high-resolution map images from older journal articles to include (and cite!) in written work. A recent example was a simplified lithofacies map from the 1970s - I did my best to rescale the image but once printed it was fuzzy and difficult to read, despite looking okay onscreen. Sort of defeats the purpose of a map, heh.

    Questions: Is it considered poor form to redraw an older map (still referencing it, of course) if there are no better images available? And would it be a super-big no-no to redraw maps such as these for fun and post them on a blog for others to view/use (again, with appropriate references)? Not talking about updating the information per se, just using something like Illustrator to create a more scalable image. While we're at it, is it okay for me to create maps from someone else's data and post these online (with, you guessed it, references!)?

    Basically I'm uncertain as to what may constitute infringement here, or whether it could be considered bad etiquette even though it's mainly something for me to do as a hobby. I have seen redrawn maps and diagrams in study materials but am unclear whether permission must be obtained prior to such an undertaking.

    Apologies if this is posted in the wrong place, just figured Earth Sci folk may have prior experience with this sort of thing. It's summer break here so I can't ask a lecturer.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2013 #2
    I am quite sure, that there is a long tradition of copying and redrawing maps from one another. Imagine before satellite imagery you wanted to publish a map of say Australia in France. Nobody had the time or money to go to Australia to re survey for the purpose of a map. You would take any sources you could get, maybe recalculate the grid in order to change the projection, and then spend endless hours redrawing. Making the map cost a lot of time and nobody would doubt, that it was your work instead of the people that you copied from. Therefore taking other peoples data and re-visualizing it, is definitely ok especially if you join multiple sources. This has a long history in the sciences. In the age of computer publishing I don't know, where people draw the line. I know online map providers have sued people over including their maps, but I guess that you can only protect the artistic appearance and not the map data itself. Just my 2 cents, someone correct me if I am wrong.
  4. Jan 12, 2013 #3
  5. Jan 13, 2013 #4
    Thank you both for your input, very much appreciated!

    0xDEADBEEF: I'm somewhat aware of the history of scientific cartography, albeit only from a second-year course, and the continuous updating and groundtruthing that goes on when the funding exists. That's probably more exhaustive than I would initially begin with but would love to work up to for sure. The geological maps I am interested in are often still relevant, just undigitised to a satisfactory degree. But you have really hit the crux of the matter when you mention the new(ish) age of computer publishing! It's a new and fuzzy area, and certainly I'd hate to ruin my young reputation over crossing an unclear boundary. I think you may have something by suggesting the actual map image (as art? so confusing!) is fine, but how would I tie this with the appropriate data if I can only present it as such?

    Studiot: In terms of legal aspects I would imagine the law is very similar throughout the Commonwealth and I'll have a dig around on this for any local differences. I suppose this also leads me to wonder if it could fall under fair use for educational and non-profit work? Investigations are imminent, in any case.
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