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(Fair Use (part of US copyright law): Travel is not part of the Fair Use criteria)
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:Just because US law says we can does not mean we need to choose to do this. [[Wikitravel:Copyright details]] sets out the standard for Wikitravel. It says fair use is not appropriate for Wikitravel. Because Wikitravel uses a different copyright licence what may be acceptable for Wikipedia may not be suitable for Wikitravel. -- [[User:Huttite|Huttite]] 21:02, 29 Dec 2005 (EST)
:Just because US law says we can does not mean we need to choose to do this. [[Wikitravel:Copyright details]] sets out the standard for Wikitravel. It says fair use is not appropriate for Wikitravel. Because Wikitravel uses a different copyright licence what may be acceptable for Wikipedia may not be suitable for Wikitravel. -- [[User:Huttite|Huttite]] 21:02, 29 Dec 2005 (EST)
::Having looked at the '''Fair Use''' section, (Section 107), it state that '''Fair Use''' is permitted ''for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching ... , scholarship, or research''. Travel is not on the list. While Wikipedia may be considered a work of ''scholarship or research'', because of the standards they set about researching articles, it is '''highly''' unlikely that Wikitravel could claim the same thing. It is difficult to see what of the above ''Fair Use'' criteria articles written for Wikitravel would even fall under - even news reporting is a bit too much of a stretch. It seems to me that the ''Fair Use'' provision exists to allow somebody to comment or respond to what somebody else has said, either to contrast or support an agument or as evidence in an opinion piece. This is not the main intent of Wikitravel. Consequently, I cannot see how the provisions of ''Fair Use'' would apply to Wikitravel content - it might to talk pages and how I used it here is a classic example of ''Fair Use''; including criticism, comment, and teaching. Unless you use copyrighted works in a similar way it is not ''Fair Use''. -- [[User:Huttite|Huttite]] 06:36, 31 Dec 2005 (EST)
===Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)===
===Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)===

Revision as of 11:40, 31 December 2005

Derivative Work?

I'm wondering if the copyright holder of an arial photograph could claim that a map made using the data in that photo as a derivative work. Can anybody out there elucidate? -- Mark 03:46, 5 Dec 2003 (PST)

IANL, but I seriously doubt there would they could/would make such a claim. This is how virtually all professional map makers make their maps. They buy the arial photograph from the government and create their maps from that. They often then do very minor intentional deviations from the real situation, so that they can detect someone who copied from their map.
Most arial photographs are created and sold by governments. In Canada, they specifically mention mapmaking as one of the main applications for purchasing aerial photographs. You do not have to purchase any special license for creating a map from an arial photograph. (You do however, if you want to include the aerial photo on your website). -- Webgeer 16:31, Aug 30, 2004 (EDT)

Peter's projection

I have a question, is necessary to use Peter's projection? I received some cartography lessons, and my teacher told me that this was the only projection in the history that has some restrictive license. (And this seems not very correct in a wiki!). Besides, the goal that claims is that all regions have the same size, this is called equal area propierty, and is different from the conformal (Mercator is conformal) which keeps the shapes of the represented lands. This was known even by the old greeks, and in the 17th century there where equal area projections, so Peter's is more marketing than real discovering! I don't want to change this without hearing all opinions first, of course. If you want more easy and good information, USGS has it on the web: -- pstng

Well, if the projection has a license that would make it difficult to make maps under our copyleft, I'd say of course we shouldn't use it.
But I'm really clueless about cartography. For the kind of stylized travellers' maps that we're talking about making, does an equal-area map even factor? At what level does Peter's projection come into play? Do street maps like the one on Montreal need it? --Evan 10:08, 23 Dec 2003 (PST)
I can't imagine how the Peters projection could have a restrictive license. The method is to project from the axis perpendicular to the axis onto a cylinder. This is simple mathematics and is used to derive the formula for the area of a sphere.
An area of land less than 400 km2 can be surveyed as if it were flat. This is the area equivalent of one second of arc (to be precise, it's 391 or something like that). This is 2/7 the size of Mecklenburg County. On a map for travelers, a minute of arc is inconsequential, so the area could be 24000 km2 and shown as flat. So a street map of a city doesn't need a special map projection.
I would not use the Peters projection except for a map of a large part of the earth where you need both equal-area and straight meridians. Far from the equator (or whatever parallel is specified), it distorts the horizontal and vertical to preserve the area. My preferred map projection is the azimuthal equal-area, which has the least overall distortion. You can make one of these 5°07'30" in radius (North Carolina is 2°36' from north to south) and have a distortion of 0.1%, which is quite good enough for a map on the Web. A Peters projection has this much distortion at latitude 2°33'45"; in a disk, it's concentrated at the north and the south. -phma 18:32, 23 Dec 2003 (PST)

I agree with all, it was just a matter of using an originally (at least) patented projection. Anyway, with small areas, nobody uses it, since you can say that any map is more or less conformal and equal area at the same time.
And the other fact is that making a map is extremly difficult if you don't have data, and this data is often under a licence. Because of that, we can only make some schema, not really a good projection, or we can take a free map from some web site.-- pstng 24 dec 2003

GRASS Comments

Going to other topic, if somebody knows how to use a GIS (Geographic Information System), there's GRASS, which is free (don't know the exact licence, but I think that is Open Source) and aviable for Windows, Linux and most of the operatng systems. The only problem is finding data, but at there's some public domain data, and from there is possible to make well projected maps. I know just two things about using GRASS, but if there's some GRASS user, I think that we can get good results, at least for maps with big areas. For city plans, it's really more difficult to find data (without paying, of course). What do you think? --pstng

One of the short comings that I saw in GRASS was that there wasn't much for vector output. Ideally it could just do SVG. Yosemite 20:04, 29 Jan 2004 (EST)
Grass is under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and it looks like SVG export is currently not supported, but therefore a lot of other vector-formats. The vector abilities of GRASS have improved a great deal with the 6.x version. Nicamds

US and TIGER Line Data

For cities in the USA, we can use the TIGER files. I downloaded the TIGER file for some random North Carolina county; it has roads, creeks, and mills in it. They're produced by the federal government, so they're public domain. -phma 07:56, 24 Dec 2003 (PST)
That's cool. So, do you have any clue how to pull this data into an actual travellers' map? Just a simplified map with just the more important streets and such? And maybe adding in on top of that some of the common map symbols for attractions, restaurants, bars, & hotels?
I'm wondering if it'd be easier just to eyeball distances for cities without hairy countours (like a river running through the middle.) I mean, I'd say we'd want to top out the maps at about 20 streets on a map -- if it gets more detailed than that, make a smaller-area map.
Anyways, info on sucking in contour info to an image format would be cool. --Evan 09:43, 24 Dec 2003 (PST)

Is it OK to eyeball coordinates from an existing map, plot them, and draw a map that way? -phma 18:18, 24 Jan 2004 (EST)

Totally. Just make sure that you upload a vector-format version of the resulting image, so someone with more GIS skill than I have can correct it later.

--Evan 21:15, 24 Jan 2004 (EST)

Okay. I'm about 2/3 of the way through the boundary, then I'll write the program, and upload the map in PNG, SVG, and the list of coordinates. -phma 07:26, 29 Jan 2004 (EST)
Map's up. How's it look? -phma 21:38, 4 Feb 2004 (EST)
Cool! The colors are a bit ... interesting. I wonder if we can have a discussion on style? Colors, line attributes, fonts, etc. -- Yosemite 21:54, 4 Feb 2004 (EST)
It doesn't look like anything happened with this discussion. I think for the purposes of a consistent look, this is extremely important. I will try and come up with at least the colors. My general thought is that land should be light enough that when printed will be virtually white, while water should be dark enough that it will be dark gray gray. I will also come up with some line types/colours to be used for borders, freeways, major roads, minor roads, subway lines, stations. - Webgeer 22:53, Aug 26, 2004 (EDT)

For everyone's information I'm working out a program right now that can suck in the Type 1 and Type 2 TIGERLine files and generate SVG files that can then be modified in Illustrator, Sodipodi, or other. -- Yosemite 20:04, 29 Jan 2004 (EST)

We have some maps. Kinda. I've generated and edited a map of downtown Reno that everyone can check out. It's still really rough. I'm currently trying to get sodipodi to bend to my will properly. One problem that I'm having is that intersections aren't lining up correctly from the TIGER data. I'll probably build another little python program that can clean up these intersection errors. Another thing that is really wrong with this map is that it is huge. I need to work out scaling and making fonts still readable. Also sodipodi doesn't seem to like that many lines on my machine (P2-350, ~256MB RAM), so editing was a little painful for me. I've tried kontour and sketch as well to work on this file, and sodipodi still works the best. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for something a bit nicer.
So the python script is now available at . To have everything work you need the improperly named file and Run with no arguments to see how to use it. Get TIGERLine data from the US census at .
For the modest sized Washoe County the script takes ~150MB of RAM during the startup when it loads the TIGERLine file. So watch out if you are RAM slim. There are ways around this mainly involving making the amount of TIGER data significantly less. I'm not too keen on making these changes since it's a minor pain.
The runtime on my machine to process Washoe County took about 25mins. Most of that is reading in the TIGER records.
Some things that I want to work out in the script are:
  • splitting out the modules properly (which was originally my intention)
  • getting a graphical scale on it,
  • possibly more intelligent placement of street names
  • actually using SVG DOM or just regular DOM
  • maybe using the proper origin for the map
I'm going to be doing a map of the Tenderloin next. I'll hopefully work out some more kinks by then. Either post here or send me email if you folks have questions. -- Yosemite 05:11, 9 Feb 2004 (EST)
I'm going to try checking this out. I made a page called Wikitravel:Software tools, which might be a little general for map-making tools. Anyways, it might be useful to list y'all's map tools there.

Latitude/Longitude Coordinate Representation

I'm thinking of using this format for coordinates:

  • 12.34 means 12 degrees and 34 hundredths of degrees
  • 12.34. means 12 degrees and 34 minutes
  • 12.34.56 means 12 degrees, 34.56 minutes
  • 12.34.56. means 12 degrees, 34 minutes, 56 seconds

A single letter N, E, W, or S indicates which coordinate it is. Does this make sense? -phma 10:34, 2 Feb 2004 (EST)

This makes sense to me, but what are you trying to acheive here? Where are we going to be using these coordinates? Personally I think sticking with one uniform system would be best. For example: [+-]DDDMMSS (Degree/Minute/Second, with the sign indicating E/W N/S) or something like [+-]DDD.FFFF... (Degree/Fractional Degree.)
My main criticism is that the trailing dot in your notation could be error prone (in input or from editing.) And sticking with a straight forward no deviations standard might be the way to go. Of course I should rule the world. -- Yosemite 21:28, 2 Feb 2004 (EST)
This is for the input to my program; an example is Image:NorthCarolina.dat, which I have since edited (adding "scale" and "center" commands and the trailing dots) and will reupload when the map is ready. The format is for hand-entered coordinate files that don't need the full complexity of, for instance, the TIGER file format. The alternative is to have a "format" command that tells how many times you take two digits and divide by sixty. I don't like using + and - (though the program does internally) because it's too easy to forget which is east and west and get a mirror-reversed map or get the latitude and longitude confused.
The output will be SVG. It is currently a list of coordinates in millimeters.
No deviations standard? No distributions normal, either? :) -phma 00:20, 3 Feb 2004 (EST)
Oh crazy. Nevermind my comments. I look forward to seeing the fruits of your labor. Your "language" reminds me a lot of Postscript. I have most of a TIGERLine to SVG converter worked out (for City/Region maps.) Most of it was messing around with python and discovering the joys of UTM. I expect to have the it in a "usable" state later in the week. By usable I mean that should be able to have some files that I can manipulate in Sodipodi that have streets on them. I still need to work out polygons(lakes) and possibly rivers. -- Yosemite 01:47, 3 Feb 2004 (EST)

Source of data

I have an old atlas (Diercke Schul-Atlas für Höhere Lehranstalten of 1907) which I plan to scan for Wikipedia. I licence everything under both GFDL and CCSA, so if necessary, it can be used for Wikitravel as well. Below are links to a few scans (I can make a PNG if needed). I don't know if they are of any use, however.

Yann 07:22, 10 Feb 2004 (EST)

They are beautiful maps, but I'm wondering how they fit in with travel? Most of the maps that we are planning on having are geared towards helping someone navigate foreign places and plan for trips. I'm wondering how you see these maps fitting in the site with that in mind. -- Yosemite 03:27, 11 Feb 2004 (EST)
Well, first I understood that we want SVG maps, so these can be used as they are. But maybe they are useful to draw SVG maps? That's what I understood from the discussion above. I don't know anything about SVG through. Yann 04:53, 11 Feb 2004 (EST)

Oh, ok. Yes that is much more useful. I just wasn't sure how you were seeing these maps fit into the site. I'm jotting notes on making maps to add some more meat to the expedition that includes digitizing existing maps. -- Yosemite 16:36, 11 Feb 2004 (EST)

City Map Markup Language

User:Blackisha has written up an initial proposal for a Map Making Markup for WikiTravel maps.

Distance tables

Is there any interest in setting up distance tables? For instance a Distance table for Europe? I don't know if there are any public domain (or CC BY-SA or CC BY) sources that could be used for this... Guaka 11:18, 26 Mar 2004 (EST)


It seems like a map would have copyrights, but the page on Mapmaking expedition said that most do not have one. If someone could explain this it would be helpful. mrtrey99

Trey, I am not a lawyer, but as I understand it maps are in general copyrightable. You should assume that they are copyrighted unless otherwise specified.
I think you may have misread the description of the Perry-Castaneda Collection at the U of T. It said "Most maps are public domain", meaning that most maps in that collection are public domain. I've changed the description to be more clear. --Evan 14:28, 28 Apr 2004 (EDT)

I know the person who did hundreds of region maps for Wikipedia. I can ask her if she'd be interested in dual licensing them if we'd like to use them. Caroline 22:18, 27 Jul 2004 (EDT)

Fair Use (part of US copyright law)

"Fair use" forbids damaging the original work's sales in the marketplace. So we need to label clearly any stuff we have on the site that is here by virtue of fair use and thus cannot be used commercially in a way that would damage the original work's sales in the marketplace. Wikipedia has this problem, too.

Just because US law says we can does not mean we need to choose to do this. Wikitravel:Copyright details sets out the standard for Wikitravel. It says fair use is not appropriate for Wikitravel. Because Wikitravel uses a different copyright licence what may be acceptable for Wikipedia may not be suitable for Wikitravel. -- Huttite 21:02, 29 Dec 2005 (EST)
Having looked at the Fair Use section, (Section 107), it state that Fair Use is permitted for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching ... , scholarship, or research. Travel is not on the list. While Wikipedia may be considered a work of scholarship or research, because of the standards they set about researching articles, it is highly unlikely that Wikitravel could claim the same thing. It is difficult to see what of the above Fair Use criteria articles written for Wikitravel would even fall under - even news reporting is a bit too much of a stretch. It seems to me that the Fair Use provision exists to allow somebody to comment or respond to what somebody else has said, either to contrast or support an agument or as evidence in an opinion piece. This is not the main intent of Wikitravel. Consequently, I cannot see how the provisions of Fair Use would apply to Wikitravel content - it might to talk pages and how I used it here is a classic example of Fair Use; including criticism, comment, and teaching. Unless you use copyrighted works in a similar way it is not Fair Use. -- Huttite 06:36, 31 Dec 2005 (EST)

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

US Title 17, section 102

The Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code, section 102, says:

..(b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
Yep! Most copyright laws distinguish between the work of art, the expression of the information about the facts if you will, from the information about the facts. Expression is copyrightable, facts are not. It is like patenting a drug. You can patent the making of a drug, not the individual atoms that make the drug. And if you find a completely different way to make the drug then you can patent that way too. -- Huttite 21:07, 29 Dec 2005 (EST)

Globalization and map copyright law

WikiTravel Contributors

The countries where a contributor has legal ties -- lives, has citizenship or owns assets -- have meaningful legal powers over that person. Contributors beware -- know the law of your land.

WikiTravel Server Computers

The countries where WikiTravel has servers has legal powers over those servers. Someone please find out what Canadian law on map copyrights is and post it here with authoritative references (are our servers in Canada? It matters).

WikiTravel Readers

The countries that allow access to WikiTravel have legal powers over that access. China for example makes its own laws about and tries to controll what is available on the Internet in China.

Per Country Laws

What works? How are maps legally made in your country?

I know in New Zealand that Land Information New Zealand, which has done/inherited most of the surveying of the country, holds copyright over all its maps. You can assume that pretty much any New Zealand map, except the one drawn by Captain Cook, is copyright to them or has a distribution licence issued by them. The aerial photographs that a lot of the maps are drawn from are also copyright, so unless you base your map on a NASA picture there will be issues with copying NZ maps. NZ copyright law is very strict and potentially mean anyone involved in the unauthorised distribution of a protected work can be sued for royalties. This could mean anyone viewing the Wikitravel website, though it would probably stop at the Website User(s) or administrators who let it happen. -- Huttite 21:24, 29 Dec 2005 (EST)

Is US Copyright Law Applicable?

Is US Copyright Law Applicable in the case of Wikitravel, or any website? While US copyright law may be applicable to US citizens operating a US based website in the USA, does it apply to other countries?

As I understand it the Wikitravel server is based in Canada, operating on equipment provided by a Canadian ISP, billed and paid for in Canadian dollars. It is beginning to look like the Copyright laws of Canada apply.

However, copyright law is more complex than that. A recent Austrailian court ruling apparently determined that the act of publication of material published on a website occurs at the place where the publication is viewed. That is on the viewer's computer, in the country that they are residing! And the local laws of that country apply. So unless Wikitravel has copyright policies that will fit a wide range of international legal circumstances we should not rely on United States Copyright Law, which is pretty lax compared to some other countries. -- Huttite 19:26, 29 Dec 2005 (EST)

See also


I'm looking to produce some maps for some Wikitravel articles, but I'm a bit put off by the formats selected, which are not ones I'm (yet) familiar with. I was wondering whether there is any feedback on the usability of tools for these formats, in the Wikitravel context, yet?.

Trawling the web, it seems that the only editors available are a commercial tool from JASC called WebDraw, which looks a bit expensive, or Sodopodi, which doesn't appear to run on the Win2K platform I'm stuck with. Anybody know a decent SVG editor that is (a) free and (b) runs on Win2k?.

And can anybody point me at the uploaded SVG version of a map on Wikitravel, that I can copy and play with to gain some experience.

Thanks -- Chris j wood 20:25, 5 Aug 2004 (EDT)

So, off the top of my head, Image:Central_montreal_map.svg is an example SVG map on Wikitravel. I believe North Carolina and Reno both have SVG maps available.
As for tools, you can check the list of SVG editors on --Evan 00:07, 6 Aug 2004 (EDT)

Future Wider Scope

Where are we heading with these ideas? Some of these discussions are setting my imagination going. In particular the idea of working with lattitude/logitude coordinates, and the map making markup idea. It seems to me the ideas have much wider scope.

In the future I imagine these efforts will evolve into a new project. A wiki-atlas. A system where rich geographical information can be built up in layers, and contributed/edited wiki-sytle, with online vector based editing tools.

I imagine the system would allow layers of information such as tourist attractions, bars, restaurants, roads, etc, and other layers of information about things like house prices, crime & polution levels, which can be displayed/hidden. A rich variety of geographical information. Different levels of detail would be presented at different zoom levels, potentially down to the exact location of a telephone box in relation to the curb on the edge of the road. I think such systems exist, but the challenge would be to apply wiki principles to the software, to make it sufficiently simple and addictive so that thousands of people obsessively map out their neighbourhood in detail, resulting in the kind of collective acheivement we see at

Maybe this will rouse some enthusiasm for this kind of project, but actually I guess I want to make the point that the potential scope of this thing is big, too big, and so to make progress we need to be careful not bite off more than we can chew.

The short term goals need to be clear. We want to make it easier for wikitravel contributors to make little maps on individual pages of wikitravel, and we want improve the quality consistency and general usefulness of those maps. Within that limited scope there's plenty of work to be done, software to be developed, standards to be defined. ...but there's no harm in keeping one eye on the future :-) Nojer2 07:19, 2 Dec 2004 (EST)

With an eye on the not too distant future, maybe the maps can be in a format and style to be acceptable to GPS applications which are becoming affordable and popular. I'm not saying that travellers should just be able to load them straight into a GPS device, but perhaps WikiTravel can adopt a format where they are usable without enormous effort. Did I make myself clear there? Oh, and its worth mentioning I have no knowledge of GPS so apologies if any graphic is usable. It may also be an idea to keep an eye on the many public domain GPS initiatives to see if maps become available. --Richard 2005 Jan 17

Listings on destination maps

I'd like to solicit opinions about a choice between two different ways of connecting numbered icons on a map with Wikitravel article listings (as in Sleep, Eat etc.) I've tried making these listings two different ways.

In the first case I add the necessary sections for listings to the Image page of the image in question and then convert the listings from the destination article to a numbered list, which are then placed on the map with numbered icons. See Paris/1st arrondissement for an example.

In the second case I've made a box containing the list of names per section from the article. See Paris/5th arrondissement for an example of a map done this way.

There are pros and cons that I can think of for each way of doing this.

Listings on the image page


  • Makes it easy to print the image and the page which goes with it
  • Is slightly easier to do
  • Makes it easier for somebody to correct my spelling mistakes (if any)


  • Separates the task of making the icons from the task of making the listings, introducing a possibility of errors.
  • Might possibly be more difficult for travelers to understand.

Listings in a box on the map


  • Keeps the task of making the listings together with making the icons.
  • Is obvious, and easy for the traveler to read.
  • Allows for better graphic design.


  • Makes the png image sizes larger
  • Makes it harder for other Wikitravelers to make corrections in spelling etc.

I'm sure that there are more good and bad aspects to each way of doing this. I'd like to know what they are if possible, as I'd like to pick a method and make its use consistent.


-- Mark 08:31, 8 Dec 2004 (EST)

I'd go for listings built into the map itself. It's better for the traveller, which is the ultimate aim, and the increased difficulty of editing is a moot point because it's already more difficult to edit a map than text. Jpatokal 10:26, 8 Dec 2004 (EST)
Thanks for the feedback! -- Mark 11:15, 8 Dec 2004 (EST)
Hi Mark. Thanks for asking for my opinion on this matter. (Thanks also for all your hard work on creating these fantastic maps in the first place - one of these days I must get you to tell me how you do it - software, etc..... Would like to try my hand at it for some other cities....) On the whole, given the current data, I tend to agree with Jpatokal, supporting listings built into the map itself, for the reasons as supplied.... The difficulty, of course, is going to be how to keep the maps updated as new entries are made under the various sub-headings..... But I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it! A very worthwhile experiment.... (I wonder whether we shouldn't put the listings in a separate column running down the side of the map, rather than in a box on top of the map.....? This might allow for more expansion without obscuring detail / context.... Just an idea! Also, should venues be listed alphabetically in the interests of fairness?) Pjamescowie 17:24, 8 Dec 2004 (EST)
Hi Paul. I use Sodipodi to make these maps, mostly by hand. Actually I trace the outlines of the very major intersections from an aerial photo, and then fill in the rest mainly by eye from consulting a collection of maps (I don't trace from them out of concern that that might be a copyright violation). I guess I'll start a page at Image talk:Paris.svg. Maybe it will become the convention for wikitravel maps, if enough people like these maps.
Anyhow, I think that a box running down the side makes sense for some arrondissements, but for the 6th for example there's a huge section of the 7th which will wind up getting included on the png, and since the 7th will have it's own png my inclination is to put the listings box there.
As for making the listings alphabetical, I suppose we could, but what I've been doing so far is duplicating the order from the article, to make it easier for travellers to refer between the map and the article. -- Mark 05:09, 9 Dec 2004 (EST)
So I re-made the png image for the 1st with the new listings format and when I look at it it looks really crowded. I think with the 1st I'm going to take your advice and put the box down the left side next time. -- Mark 01:14, 10 Dec 2004 (EST)
I would prefer to see a 'clean' map without the boxes. A map's primary purpose is for navigation, and I would hate to get lost under one of the boxes! I accept what you say about so called redundant areas of map which can be used for the boxes (parts of the 7th on the map of the 6th) but a map needs entry and exit routes. With regard to editing content, isn't it unWikiWiki to make it so hard (requiring graphic editor skills and s/w)? Also consider the simple case where an establishment changes it's name. If I was to contemplate how I would use the map, I would have it and a paper copy of the location page (not the image page), wouldn't most people? My ideal would be the nice icons on the map cross-linked to See, Do, Eat etc. Also see above where I have suggested they be in a format suitable for GPS devices. Thanks for the opportunity to comment, what you have done is really impressive, and if I go to Paris, your work will be with me. --Richard 2005 Jan 17

"Open Maps?"

[Moved from Travellers' pub by Hypatia 18:14, 16 Dec 2004 (EST)]

There's an article on Slashdot about Open Maps. Considering this is one of our big problems on Wikitravel, I think it makes interesting reading. --Evan 18:59, 29 May 2004 (EDT)

Great source of maps

[Moved from Travellers' pub by Hypatia 18:42, 16 Dec 2004 (EST)]

I just wanted to point everyone's attention to the University of Texas Library's map collection. They have a huge collection of maps, that according to the FAQ are in the public domain. (Maps that are still copyrighted are marked accordingly). Although the collection includes some of the CIA maps we already include on WikiTravel, they also have other maps that include province borders, major roads and railway links (e.g. for Iran) as well as maps showing ethnic, political and industrial information. These are a definite improvement on the maps we have now.

Allyak 09:56, Nov 3, 2004 (EST)

They are good and better than most of our maps, but they are in JPG and GIF format, not Wikitravel std PNG. So I thing we can provide an external link to that map page ~ Bijee 12:10, 3 Nov 2004 (EST)
We have links to that collection in the Wikitravel:Mapmaking Expedition, q.v. --Evan 13:36, 3 Nov 2004 (EST)
Regarding the GIF maps, these can be simply resaved as PNG and then uploaded without any loss in quality or considerable increase in filesize. JPEG maps are a different story, though. Some maps (such as topographical maps) have the colour depth of photos and therefore lend themselves to JPEG compression. It seems a shame to only link to these maps, rather than use them inline on the site, simply because the image isn't in the WikiTravel standard format for maps. Saving the maps as PNG or JPEG is simple a matter of which format compresses better. Although PNG's GIF-like compression method usually works better with maps because of their reduced colour depth, many of the Univ of Texas JPEG maps compress better in their native format. -- Allyak 14:40, Nov 10, 2004 (EST)

Amazing online map service: DEMIS

Just stumbled on DEMIS today and was blown away: this is an excellent resource! Just wanted to get a second opinion on the license though:

With this statement DEMIS BV grants you permission to freely copy the PNG images returned by our server and use them for your own purposes, including web pages. We would appreciate a reference to our server but such a reference is not required, nor do we take responsibility for the accuracy or quality of the maps.

This means basically public domain, right? "Freely copy for your own purposes", with no limitations on said purposes... Jpatokal 11:28, 4 Apr 2005 (EDT)

Looks like they're using data from the world Basemap, which is public domain, yes. You can get the same data in shapefile format (for easy SVG conversion) from esri. -- Mark 11:53, 4 Apr 2005 (EDT)
Data in public domain doesn't mean that the rendering of said data is in public domain, but DEMIS appears to make even their maps PD... Jpatokal 11:58, 4 Apr 2005 (EDT)
Yes, you're absolutely right. I just thought you might like to know where to find the World Basemap source data. -- Mark 12:32, 4 Apr 2005 (EDT)
Whoo! Just look that Iriomote map I just created in about 5 minutes, just by slapping dots and labels on a DENIS rendering. Although the subject being a near-uninhabited tropical island helps... Jpatokal 11:50, 30 Apr 2005 (EDT)

It's no longer Public Domain! - anon - 21:08, 17 Dec 2005

Hmmm. The statement Jpatokal quoted above. Whereabouts on the website was that? Is it still there? I'll ask them. Obviously they're looking to make money from their merged datasets and their map server software, but we just want to grab images. -- Nojer2 06:43, 18 Dec 2005 (EST)
Yeah we're still allowed to grab images generated by the demo map server as public domain. This disclaimer appears at the very bottom of this page.
I think this looks like a great starting point for creating more zoomed out maps of countries etc. The feature "Support for grid based GIS layers, including interpolation, contouring, relief shading" is presumably what makes these maps look so good. Not so useful for city street maps though -- Nojer2 05:16, 19 Dec 2005 (EST)
Interesting... I had a look at part of my country and immediately spotted several errors, like wrong names for places, a main highway misplotted and a railway line with a missing/misplotted section. You could use them, but for anything more detailed than country outlines and general topography, I would be very wary about accuracy. -- 21:48, 29 Dec 2005 (EST)

SVG Uploads

The official policy for maps is that the SVG source file should also be uploaded, but with the current Wikimedia software it seems that there is no way for someone to then download that source. Am I missing something? Is there somewhere else that the SVG files can be uploaded to? -- Wrh2 17:31, 26 Jul 2005 (EDT)

The upload works, but downloading doesn't. I'll see if I can come up with a patch. -- Mark
I found out how to download them. Go to (for example) Image:Train.svg and click on the most recent date at the bottom of the page. That seems to provide the actual SVG source file. -- Owl 15:56, 16 Aug 2005 (EDT)

How do I...?

I would really love to make a map of Manchester city centre, but I don't even know where to start.

Should I teach myself Inkscape, or is there another tool available for GNU that would be less painful?

Am I permitted to trace over the top of a Google satellite image? The layout of the streets is hardly copyright Google, but is there some strange loophole in the law that would allow them to prosecute for this?

Could someone post a three or four step Complete Idiots' Guide (tm) to making a map?

-- Owl 16:07, 12 Aug 2005 (EDT)

The whole point of this expedition is to figure that out, actually! I made a really silly map for Montreal, and Mark's done some great stuff for Paris. There are some other city maps around. It might be good to try to figure out how to do them. --Evan 17:10, 12 Aug 2005 (EDT)
I have a reasonable idea, but I was hoping for some hints! I can try tracing Google satellite imagery in Inkscape, and I've had a bit of a go at that, but I'm concerned about the legality of doing that, and I was wondering if you or Mark or anyone else has had any success stories with particular tools or techniques. I thought that was what community was for! :) I think we're a long way from the expedition's goal, but I need some help now or I'll never get off the ground. -- Owl 17:34, 12 Aug 2005 (EDT)

Potential Map ideas...

Swept in from the Wikitravel:Travelers' pub:

If you aren't aware already, google has had a map service for a while now ( And it's not half bad (only problem is that it only has US and UK... so far). Even more exciting is that they've released a javascript api: I've already seen a few hacks and they look very promising. Maybe someone with more technical experience could look into it. It looks like something to potentially add to the mapmaking expedition. --Comrade009 14:23, 30 Jun 2005 (EDT)

(Rude outsiders interjection) - Just thought you might like to know that we've just quietly launched, a site for easily connecting Wikipedia articles to places. Tourism and local history are the two main aims of this, and I just wanted to let you Travellers know that it's out there.
But we cannot use Google maps on Wikitral. Planiglobe seems more promising. They are CC-by-sa-2.5. So close :-( --elgaard 15:27, 30 Jun 2005 (EDT)
Are there any legal experts on this? Seems to me that having to worry about license versions is rather counter to the goal of the cc licenses. Does "share alike" imply shared using the exact same licence, or using a license which protects the same rights. Not being a legal expert, but having had it drilled into me that legal systems which derive from britain (including the US) all use the principle of what the "reasonable man" would do, and at least to me, it seems perfectly reasonable to interchange license versions which protect the exact same rights.
This seems to put all sorts of things that people may be more than happy to share with us out of our reach unless we can reach the copyright holder directly. Case in point that I've recently become aware of is if we want to borrow some photos from flickr. People there have the option of choosing one (or none) of several cc licenses for their works, but the cc-by-sa is 2.0, and to do anything different would require adding something to the comments of every photo, instead of just setting a default rule. --Neil 07:08, 6 Jul 2005 (EDT)
Yes, there are lots of things we can't include unless we get copyright holder permission. Fortunately, there are hundreds of thousands of travelers out there with ideas, photos, and energy to make this project work. We don't need to leech from those who don't want to share with us.
As for the licenses: I'd like to get an expedition in motion to upgrade our license version. However, I think the 3.0 licenses will be more worth the trouble. Maybe we should start a Wikitravel:License Upgrade Expedition? --Evan 08:35, 6 Jul 2005 (EDT)
We don't need to leech from those who don't want to share with us. My point wasn't about people who don't want to share with us, just about people who want their material to be shared (hence using a by-sa license), but who didn't initially and specifically put their material on wikitravel. Upgrading the license seems like a good idea if it's feasible, but doesn't that require contacting every single contibuter? that, do they have to specifically agree, or simply not reply back to say no? And how do anonymous contributions fit into that?--Neil 15:10, 6 Jul 2005 (EDT)
I agree that it's going to be hard to upgrade the license. The big problem is that the 1.0 CC license suite didn't have an "or any later license" clause; 2.0 and later do. So if we get bumped up to 2.5 or 3.0 or whatever, we can "automatically" upgrade later. As for how it has to be done: I've got some ideas, but, yes, we do need the consent of contributors. As for including stuff under other licenses: I think that's gonna be hard. Possible, but hard. --Evan 16:19, 6 Jul 2005 (EDT)
It would be great to go to CC 2.X. Please put your ideas on Wikitravel:License Upgrade Expedition --elgaard 19:43, 6 Jul 2005 (EDT)

Going back to the original point. I guess technically it's easy enough to embed google maps into the wikitravel articles. I stumbled upon this at, but I guess there must be a few other wikis doing this. Here the page wiki markup looks like this: "<Map>38.521|-8.8569|0|300|300|úbal Cup 2005|</Map>"
The slightly different idea appearing on, is to have one map, with the little markers showing the location of all the articles on the wiki. Here's a Mediawiki extension which would allow us to create such a map, if we geotagged all our articles with the wiki markup like this: "<geo>41.50725 N 81.60831 W</geo>". That idea doesn't give us copyright issues, since we just need to make it clear that this one map display page is not available under the same license. Geotags would also allow us to simply link into google maps (bit like the way we link to wikipedia) But what this wouldn't give us, is Attribution-ShareAlike maps appearing on the article pages, which is the goal of this expedition. -- Nojer2 16:47, 24 Oct 2005 (EDT)
The Free part of "Free Travel Guide" is not optional. We are trying to make a travel guide which you can re-distrubute. If we rely on non-free Google maps then we are failing in that goal. I'd rather we not use them out of risk that we might come to rely on them.
Also it's really easy to make our own maps for the US at least using Tigerline data, just like the people who supplied data to Google started with. See the map for Carbondale. -- Mark 17:08, 24 Oct 2005 (EDT)
Yeah I completely agree that free maps is the way we want to go. It becomes far more useful if maps are appearing (and printable) on the article pages, and I'm sure a lot of people will find other interesting uses for the maps, if they are available as Attribution-ShareAlike. A very valuable free resource. But surely it's not "really easy" to create these maps. I mean it involves a fair amount of effort, playing around with graphics software to get half decent results.
Linking to some coordinates on another website. Now that is really easy, which makes it tempting as a half-way solution. We could quite quickly do this for every article on wikitravel (e.g. a small 'google maps' hyperlink in the bottom left panel). Compare that with the effort of creating a new map graphic on every article.
But I guess what you're saying is we should resist this temptation, because we would come to rely on these external mapping sites, and the incentive to create free maps would be gone. -- Nojer2 06:31, 25 Oct 2005 (EDT)

DEMIS is no longer free!

So it has to get off the list of public domain maps. Forsome reason it didn;t let me change it on the page... 16:03, 17 Dec 2005 (EST)

Some things I found

  • Autodesk Goes Open Source [1]
  • Diffrent software here: [2] 09:00, 29 Dec 2005 (EST)