Subway authorities send ‘cease and desist’ letters to free iPod subways maps site owner

“It seemed like such a great idea: digitally shrink maps of major subway systems and put them online so people can download them to their iPods for free. Tens of thousands of people have downloaded maps from since Web designer and blogger William Bright, 27, created it in early August. San Francisco and New York City officials were less enthusiastic,” David B. Caruso reports for The Associated Press.

“A lawyer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority sent Bright a terse ‘cease and desist’ letter in mid-September demanding he immediately remove the New York City subway map from his Web site,” Caruso reports. “Another letter followed on Sept. 21 from the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, instructing Bright to take down his BART system map. Both agencies said copyrights they held to the maps barred anyone from repackaging and redistributing them without permission.”

Caruso reports, “BART spokesman Linton Johnson said the agency is working on coming up with its own downloadable version of subway maps for on iPods and other portable devices.He said BART’s chief complaint with Bright’s maps was that they didn’t reflect changes made to the transit system’s route alignment earlier this month. ‘We don’t want to confuse our customers,’ Johnson said.”

Full article here.

iPod subway maps:


  1. a) Do you lose copyright if you don’t defend it? I thought that was trademarks and patents. Maybe they’d better go after the people who get a subway map and photcopy it to use a highlighter pen, too.

    b) Does the site give a date for the maps is includes? If so, people know what they are getting. Of course maps change in little ways. Then go get the new one every now and then.

    c) Can I work for a bureaucracy, please?

    Suggestion to the site: make it a community thing where members post the maps. De-centralize who takes the heat!

  2. not only does he have a with the maps he is going to have a problem with Apple on the “iPod” name in the domain. Just a matter of time. Apple has been sending “cease and desist” letters to those that have “iPod” in the domain name.

  3. someone should research copyright law. how can the government own a copyright when it is public. tax-payeres support the government, therefore taxpayers own the government. therefore the taxpayers own the copyrights – not the office.

    it’s just a strong arm tactic. if it ever did get to court, the kid, if he had a good lawyer, might prevail in the case.

  4. I am not 100% sure, but I believe that anything paid with tax dollars or government was free from any fees and open to the public to do what they want with the items.

    I really don’t believe that they can charge for public domain maps etc.

    I’m sure one of the readers here has legal advice or knowledge about this issue.

  5. “Subway authorities send ‘cease and desist’ letters to free iPod subways maps site owner”.

    Definition: cease (verb) come to an end, stop.
    Definition: desist (verb) suspend, stop, discontinue.

    So the subway authorities sent ‘stop’ and ‘stop’ letters? Hmm.

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  6. Zupchuck – right on dude. Many of the maps/schedules on MUNI bus stops around San Francisco are at least 12 months out of date as well. Some are probably even more – perhaps 24 months? They still say it’s $1.00 a ticket… (it’s been increased twice… it’s now $1.50.)

    This guy’s maps were less than one month out of date and they’re complaining?? Good on ’em.

    The next question is – how long will it before the transit authorities get their maps up and running??? Monday next week? Knowing the bureaucracy, I’d cynically suggest we won’t see them this side of Christmas. And will they keep them up to date as well??

    This guy is given legal papers, rather than a pat on the back for helping them out. I mean, why don’t they just call the guy up and say “Hey, buddy, thanks for the idea, but please don’t distribute our maps, they’re actually copyrighted”. No, it’s far easier to just call a legal team and get serious.

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