Data traced from an atlas map

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  • Hello,

    I'm looking for informed opinions about whether it is legal to trace elements of a print map, scanned from an atlas for example, and use the data created in a non-commercial publicly available information system. This does not involve reproducing the map, but traced points and lines from it.

    Thoughts, opinions, advice welcome! Also, who would I consult for a definitive legal answer to this?



  • Hello. I believe your use of the traced map is a fair use. I would go for it.  Maps are protected by copyright, but they are usually factual in nature so less copyright protection.  And you are tracing only part of the map. I would be interested in what my colleagues think!


    Hope this helps.


  • Hi kgeographer,
    Generally definitive answers regarding the application of US copyright law come from the courts. If you are looking for more concrete assurances regarding the legality of this situation you may wish to work with legal counsel to identify reuse options. That said, I tend to agree with Carrie's analysis of the situation. Generally, facts and data are not protected by copyright. However, the selection and arrangement of data may be copyrightable so maps can have copyright protection, but it’s not as much protection that might be found in a graphical work that incorporates more creativity. Fair use can always be considered when reusing works protected by copyright. This tool can help you learn more about fair use and aid you in working through the four factors:

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