Geography 970

March 15, 2010

“You must not . . . ” whah!?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tim Wallace @ 2:56 pm

In the frantic, fast-paced swirling world of free mapping utilities online, who stops to read the fine print?   I’m guessing there is a larger percentage of Facebook users who read the fine print before signing away their lives than Google Maps API users who check out this page.

Google’s “free” mapping tools are always changing.  Last week, it seems they dropped the need for an API key to run geocoding processes.  At the same time, they reduced their number of output formats (removing CSV, which is likely is one of the more popular output types).  These changes in the API prompted me to check out the fine print.

And so after spending a number of weeks trying to implement Google’s geocoder for a non-Google-based map . . . I find out this.

10.  License Restrictions: You must not (nor may you permit anyone else to):

10.12 use or display the Content without a corresponding Google map, unless you are explicitly permitted to do so in the Maps APIs Documentation, the Street View API Documentation, or through written permission from Google (for example, you must not use geocodes obtained through the Service except in conjunction with a Google map, but the Street View API Documentation explicitly permits you to display Street View imagery without a corresponding Google map).

Figures, right?  If you are going to geocode using their API, it may as well be for use on their maps.  This section of the fine print sort of makes me wonder though . . . why do they open up their geocoder API as they have then?  If anyone can access the geocoder via a simple URL string (and not necessarily through some highly complicated code), do they really expect people to lay off using the geocoder except for immediate (Google) mapping applications?  That seems unlikely to me.  Perhaps a better question would be – from what does this stipulation really protect them?  Geography students . . . or, some entity trying to make money with their data on the sly?


1 Comment »

  1. […] But I digress. The point of this post is to bring attention to something bizarre I just noticed about the Google Maps Geolocation API. One of my tasks during this seminar was to investigate the feasibility of geolocating non-geolocated tweets. Gosh, that sounds like gibberish. What I mean is this: some folks have fancy phones which attach coordinates to their tweets; others do not. The vast majority of tweets (nowadays, anyway) do not have coordinates attached to them. They do, however, have user-specified place names (Oella, Maryland, for example). So, my task was to see if it was possible to geolocate (get coordinates for) tweets that did not have user-specified coordinates. To be frank, the whole thing was a debacle. My findings: geolocating tweets via a non-coordinate-based system was not possible (or at least not advisable). Feel free to read about it here and here. […]

    Pingback by Google Reverse Geolocation as an Ad Scheme? « Tim Wallace — March 10, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

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