Wondering about permission to adapt maps for hiking guidebook

Started by Bill Siever, March 02, 2021, 03:31:58 AM

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Bill Siever

Greetings all,
I'm writing a hiking guidebook and am hoping to adapt versions of maps created by a member called "John_M." The maps are from "NE USA Topo Part 1." I'd be happy to cite his name and to say something like "Adapted from NE USA Topo Part 1 maps by [his name]. Used with permission." I've asked the GPS FileDepot people to contact him on my behalf, but in case I don't hear back, does anyone know what the copyright situation is with these maps? I'd appreciate any advice. I'm adding lots of things and deleting lots of things, so they are quite different from the original, but I just want to make sure it's okay to adapt these maps. Thanks!


Each map author sets their own usage policy. So, unless you just plan to steal the maps, you will need the author's permission. These maps are not open source, unless the author has stated so. IMO, it would be outrageous for you to take an author's work, change it and then use it in a publication you are going to sell for profit. The original author deserves a share of that profit.

If you can't contact the author, why not just use openstreetmap where the usage policy is clear?

See this:

"Maps downloaded from GPSFileDepot may not be resold or re-distributed without express written permission from the map author. Additionally, many maps have been created using a version of cgpsmapper that does not allow for commercial application (selling) of these maps. Do NOT download and redistribute or sell maps from GPSFileDepot."

"Map author's set their own terms and conditions for each map they upload and these will be enforced by GPSFileDepot."


The data in those maps are at least 12 years old.  Since you seam to have software capable of modifying geographic data, just download and use the current data from the non-copyrighted government sources.

Bill Siever

Thanks to you both for your replies -- I definitely don't want to steal anyone's work, so I appreciate being steered correctly. I was under the impression that these were open source maps, so I'm glad to know that. (Well, not glad, but glad I won't do the wrong thing and get sued someday.) I am a total amateur when it comes to maps, so I'll look to the government sources you mentioned. Thanks again.
- B


OpenStreetMap would be a good choice, they have a very permissive license

If you need topo maps, have a look at OpenTopoMap. There are also other OSM-based topo's.

Bill Siever

Great, thank you! I will take a look. Much appreciated.
-- B