Has one of your friends or family ever printed a map from Yahoo or Google to tell you how to get to a family event or party? It happens all the time, but did you know that there is a good chance that they are violating copyright law? Sounds really funny, doesn’t it? However, you may be doing this in your small business if you are going to make a sale and print the directions to your business on a flyer. I have even seen maps in the yellow pages that were printed directly from Yahoo Maps, they even left the copyright. That is interesting, right?

For one thing, the Yahoo Maps are getting the credit, and it’s an advertisement in itself for them, but it’s also a copyright violation for the person who printed them. Yahoo and Google obviously expect people to screen print for their maps, and they even have easy-to-print versions, although it does contain copyright at the bottom. Now, what about using satellite images from Google Earth or Street View and printing them too? is that allowed? Obviously, Google maintains the copyright. Let’s discuss this for a few moments if we can. You see, the first US copyright law was created in 1790. It covered;


But over the years since he has come to cover a myriad of other things like, but not limited to;

Radio and television broadcasts
Cable broadcasts
Satellite broadcasts
Computer software

Regardless of how that information is stored, it is subject to copyright. It is assumed that you are copyrighted, and those who have created this information are entitled to those copyrights. Not long ago, I was talking to a commercial real estate agent who copied a file from Street View to Google Maps, showing me a commercial location for sale. Interestingly, he had that same image on his website in the “for sale” listings. Now we’re starting to get in trouble, right? All that information is protected by copyright law.

Some might say that Google wouldn’t mind, and that’s probably true. After all, Google has copied quite a few works from the past, old books and the like, for example. However, when someone starts putting this information on their website in the same medium in which Google produced it, they are violating copyright, even if Google is not going to go after a low-level commercial real estate seller. Even if the entire industry starts doing it, it’s doubtful Google wants to file a lawsuit or series of lawsuits to stop it.

They don’t need bad publicity, but that doesn’t do it right. And therefore, I hope that you will please consider all this and think about it. If you want to discuss this at a much higher level, please email me.


“How to Handle Basic Copyright and Trademark Issues”, by Richard Dannay, President of the Audio Cassette Program, Practicing Law Institute, New York, 1990, 4 cassettes on 7 sides of 30 minutes each.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *