New Paper: Legal Issues in Maps Built on Third Party Base Layers

The topic we are addressing  is not new, but it is helpful to have the legal issues well laid out.

by: Adam Saunders, Teresa Scassa and Tracey P. Lauriault

Legal Issues in Maps Built on Third Party Base Layers

GEOMATICA, 2012, 66(4): 279-290, 10.5623/cig2012-054

Abstract: The recent growth in citizen map-making ability has been brought about in part by the availability of base layers of geospatial information on which maps can be built, as well as software tools that allow geographic information to be represented. However, the legal relationship between the creator of the map and the owner of the base layer has received relatively little attention. In this paper, we consider legal issues regarding volunteered geographic information (VGI) submitted to third-party geographic information systems (GIS). This combination raises issues of copyright, database rights, trademark, and End User License Agreements (EULAS). The paper will consider the IP rights on which the EULAs are founded and the corresponding rights of those who build their own maps onto the base layers; analyze some of the key EULAs in this area, and identify important issues for those who create maps using these base layers.

Paper: The Map as a Fundamental Source in the Memory of the World

The paper has just been published on the UNESCO Site.

The Map as a Fundamental Source in the Memory of the World

Tracey P. Lauriault, Postdoctoral Fellow, Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC), Carleton University, Ottawa. Email: tlauriau @ gmail . com

D. R. Fraser Taylor, FRSC, Distinguished Research Professor and Director of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre, Carleton University, Ottawa. He is also a member of the CODATA Data at Risk Task Group. Email: fraser_taylor @ carleton . ca


The central argument of the paper is that maps and spatial information have been fundamental facet of the memory of societies from all over the world for millennia and their preservation should be an integral part of government digital data strategies. The digital era in map making is a relatively recent phenomenon and the first digital maps date from the 1960s. Digital mapping has accelerated very rapidly over the last decade. Such mapping is now ubiquitous with an increasing amount of spatially referenced information being created by non-governmental organizations, academia, the private sector and government as well by social networks and citizen scientists. Unfortunately despite this explosion of digital mapping little or no attention is being paid to their preservation and, as a result, what has been a fundamental source of scientific and cultural information, maps, are very much at risk. Already we are losing map information faster than it is being created and the loss of this central part of the cultural heritage of societies all over the world is a serious concern. There has already been a serious loss of maps such as the Canada Land Inventory and the 1986 BBC Domesday Project of 1986 and mapping agencies all over the world are struggling to preserve maps in the new digital era. It is somewhat paradoxical that it is easier to get maps that are hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years old than maps of the late 20th and early 21 centuries. This paper examines the challenges and opportunities of preserving and accessing Canadian digital maps, atlases and geospatial information, which are cultural and scientific knowledge assets.

Lauriault, T. P. and D. R. Fraser Taylor, 2013, The Map as a Fundamental Source in the Memory of the World, UNESCO The Memory of the World in the Digital age: Digitization and Preservation Conference, Vancouver, 2012.

PhD Dissertation Defence: Data, Infrastructures and Geographical Imaginations

I was awarded a PhD in May of 2012 and below is the presentation I gave at the defence along with the abstract.


The central argument of this dissertation is that Canadian reality is conditioned by government data and their related infrastructures. Specifically, that Canadian geographical imaginations are strongly influenced by the Atlas of Canada and the Census of Canada. Both are long standing government institutions that inform government decision-making, and are normally considered to be objective and politically neutral. It is argued that they may also not be entirely politically neutral even though they may not be influenced by partisan politics, because social, technical and scientific institutions nuance objectivity. These institutions or infrastructures recede into the background of government operations, and although invisible, they shape how Canadian geography and society are imagined. Such geographical imaginations, it is argued, are important because they have real material and social effects. In particular, this dissertation empirically examines how the Atlas of Canada and the Census of Canada, as knowledge formation objects and as government representations, affect social and material reality and also normalize subjects. It is also demonstrated that the Ian Hacking dynamic Looping Effect framework of ‘Making Up People’ is not only useful to the human sciences, but is also an effective methodology that geographers can adapt and apply to the study of ‘Making Up Spaces’ and geographical imaginations. His framework was adapted to the study of the six editions of the Atlas of Canada and the Census of Canada between 1871 and 2011. Furthermore, it is shown that the framework also helps structure the critical examination of discourse, in this case, Foucauldian gouvernementalité and the biopower of socio-techno-political systems such as a national atlas and census, which are inextricably embedded in a social, technical and scientific milieu. As objects they both reflect the dominant value system of their society and through daily actions, support the dominance of this value system. While it is people who produce these objects, the infrastructures that operate in the background have technological momentum that also influence actions. Based on the work of Bruno Latour, the Atlas and the Canadian census are proven to be inscriptions that are immutable and mobile, and as such, become actors in other settings. Therefore, the Atlas of Canada and the Census of Canada shape and are shaped by geographical imaginations.

Census 2011: Who Are We? The Canadian Census Used to Tell Us

Take Away: Understanding of the history of the Canadian census. The use of census data through Canadian history and the effects of changing census data collection methods.
Objective: Understanding the following: what a national census is; the history of the Canadian national census; effects of changes to the 2010 long form; survey versus census; where we are and what do we have in May 2011. Methods: lecture and presentation Results: increase awareness of what comprises census data and how it is used by Canadians (individuals, researchers, business, governments, libraries who serve these users) Conclusions: If the Census 2011 is vastly different from previous national census’, what alternative resources are available for libraries and their users?
Description: The long form census was changed in the summer of 2010 to a long form survey. What are the long term effects of this change for Canadians (individuals, researchers, business, governments, libraries) who use census data.

Atelier national de formation Initiative de démocratisation des données (IDD) : L’image globale: Qu’est-ce qu’il y a de neuf dans le monde des données

L’image globale: Qu’est-ce qu’il y a de neuf dans le monde des données

Atelier national de formation de l’IDD – session d’ouverture

À tous les jours on retrouve de l’innovation dans le monde des données : le web sémantique, l’informatique en nuage, la visualisation, la cartographie, les portails, les infrastructures de données géospatiales, etc.  Cette partie de la journée de formation portera  sur les nouvelles initiatives canadiennes concernant l’accès public aux données en mettant l’accent sur ​​la transparence et les données ouvertes. Dans cette session, les participants/tes seront initiés à la démocratie participative et à l’utilisation des données numériques, aux définitions de données ouvertes et à des exemples de politiques gouvernementales éclairées.  En outre, nous nous pencherons sur ce que certains groupes communautaires font, la direction dans les grandes villes du Canada et dans la province de la Colombie-Britannique par les administrations et les citoyens. Nous traiterons notamment de licences, d’initiatives de données ouvertes, de « hackfest », de « hackathons », d’applications, des défis et des possibilités. Il est espéré que ce survol fournira aux participants/tes un aperçu des nouveautés dans le monde des données publiques au Canada.