Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
The GI for maps and other communication should be collected to fulfill
requirements arising from issues related to the geographic and cartographic
representation. Accurately and reliably locating observations and measure-
ments about things and events requires careful consideration of the options
for collection and the issues each option faces. The three generic options are
surveying, GPS, and digitization. Traditionally, surveying was the discipline
called on for accurate and reliable measurements of position. GPS, which is
widely available today and becoming more commonplace, is altering that
somewhat, but surveying remains the discipline called on for accurate and
reliable location measurements, especially when legal dimensions of the
things or events are important. Existing materials can be digitized or
scanned, but copyright regulations and limitations should be carefully con-
In-Depth Copyright Issues for Geographic
Almost all GI is protected implicitly or explicitly by copyright. The only blan-
ket exception is for GI collected by the U.S. federal government. This, how-
ever, applies only to civilian agencies. Military agencies (including the Corps of
Engineers) are exempt. Individual states have their own laws regulating the use
of copyright for their agencies and other government agencies (towns, cities,
etc.) in that state. Private companies have copyright on the GI—for example, a
map made by a surveyor, unless otherwise defined or regulated.
Copyright sets out to motivate the expression of ideas by offering restric-
tions on how original works in a tangible medium may be used by someone
else. In GIS, as the geographic representation and the particular cartographic
representation are these works.
Charging for GI is commonplace all over the world. Copyright is a way to
ensure that people who use GI created by others compensate them for their
work. When a person uses copyrighted material, he or she has to request per-
mission and/or reimburse the owner. This can get very expensive and very
lucrative, so there are many people struggling over copyright and seeking
exemptions that allow them to do what they would like to do without compen-
sating the owner. The U.S. government took the stance over 200 years ago that
copyrighting material created for and by the government would hinder com-
merce and be an imposition for the development of the economy. In consider-
ing the use of GI around the world, the results are clear: the U.S. GI economic
sector is vibrant and there is widespread (even global) access to U.S. federal
government GI. U.S. state governments sometimes take a different view. Some
allow free access, some charge. Usually the laws and regulations offer a variety
of exceptions, but some states have decided that because GI costs money to
produce, users should be charged.
The laws of states regulating access to GI include open records laws,
which are related to the Freedom of Information Act. In the United States
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