Trap street

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A trap street is a fictitious street included on a map, often outside the area the map covers, for the purpose of "trapping" potential copyright violators of the map, who will be unable to justify the inclusion of the "trap street" on their map.

Sometimes, rather than actually depicting a street where none exists, a map will misrepresent the nature of a street in a fashion that can still be used to detect copyright violators but is less likely to interfere with navigation. For instance, a map might add nonexistent bends to a street, or depict a major street as a narrow lane, without changing its location or its connections to other streets.

Trap streets are routinely denied and rarely acknowledged by publishers. This is not always the case, however. A popular driver's atlas for the city of Athens, Greece warns inside its front cover that potential copyright violators should beware of trap streets[1].

In an edition of the BBC Two programme Map Man, first broadcast 17 October 2005, a spokesman for the Geographer's A-Z Street Atlas company claimed there are "about 100" trap streets included in the London edition of the street atlas. One such street, "Bartlett Place", a genuine but misnamed pedestrian walkway, was identified in the programme, and will appear in future editions under its real name, Broadway Walk.


[edit] Legal issues

In Nester's Map & Guide Corp. v. Hagstrom Map Co., 796 F.Supp. 729, E.D.N.Y., 1992, a United States federal court found that copyright traps are not themselves protectable by copyright. These traps may still be useful in other countries. Even if the trap cannot be used in a court, it does help a business owner to detect copying.

In a 2001 case in the United Kingdom, the Automobile Association agreed to settle a case for £20,000,000 when it was caught copying Ordnance Survey maps. In this case, the identifying "fingerprints" were not deliberate errors but rather stylistic features such as the width of roads.[2]

In another case, the Singapore Land Authority sued Virtual Map, an online publisher of maps, for infringing on their copyright. The Singapore Land Authority stated in their case that there were deliberate errors in maps they had provided to Virtual Map years earlier. Virtual Map denied this and insisted that they had done their own cartography.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Αττική" Greek-language map book published by Nik. & Ioan Fotis O.E. (Νικ. & Ιωάν. Φωτής Ο.Ε.,, Greek-language warning inside front cover
  2. ^ Clark, Andrew (2001-03-06). ""Copying maps costs AA £20m"". The Guardian. Retrieved on 2007-09-24. 

[edit] External links

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