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Copyright on GPS tracks?


Original Post
Jordan Brown · · Granada Hills, CA · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 379

The Terms and Conditions say that users will not "... Reproduce, distribute or make derivative works of the Service or any of its contents without the express written consent of the Company;".

GPS tracks are clearly part of the contents of the service, and indeed they bear a copyright notice listing "MTB Project" as the author.

You offer a button to download a GPX file, so clearly you expect users to download and somehow use the GPS track data.  But what are the limits?

I assume that it is OK to upload the data to another mapping site (e.g. caltopo.com) for my more-or-less personal use - e.g., to share with small groups.  (Valid assumption?)

But what about, e.g., uploading the data to OpenStreetMap to add a trail there?

I'd say that politeness dictates that I should ask the original contributor, no matter what REI has to say about it.

But do I need to ask REI?  And is there any chance that the answer would be "yes"?

Of course, I could get the data directly from the original contributor, but that's a nuisance for both parties.

Jordan Brown · · Granada Hills, CA · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 379

We'll ignore the question of whether the data in question is copyrightable at all - it is arguably a mere collection of facts, and collections of facts are not copyrightable.  A brief Google search indicates that this is an open legal question.  For my purposes, I'm happy to comply with whatever terms the nominal owners want.

kt23 Edmonds · · Bloomington, IN · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 55

I have this question also. I have been contributing to OpenStreetMap and probably should start contributing to Hiking Project in parallel. It would be nice to make the two datasets more consistent, but for now I guess I will rely on collecting the GPS data myself, or at least stealing it from my friends.

Lou Poulas · · Lake Hopatcong · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 2,327

This is an interesting question.  I have downloaded a gpx file from a different site (non pay) for my own trail use, then hiked it, and wrote up the trail for hiking project in my own words.  However, I used the original gpx as my phone died.  At the time I justified it because I wasn't making money off a crowd source project from HikingProject, but i do wonder the technical legality of it.

Michael Ahnemann · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 490

This is an older thread, but I wanted to respond from Hiking Project's point of view. Jordan is correct that the legal side of things is murky at best. The plain language explanation is that, while we make it possible to download GPX data, we expect that folks will use that to upload to a physical device, or somehow use that for their own personal use. We DO NOT expect people to upload the data to another website, or use it to create another product. Similarly, we do our best to avoid accepting content that is taken from other sources. When we are alerted that someone has uploaded a GPX file to our site from somewhere else without permission, we address that accordingly. The same is true for the text descriptions on the site.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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