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View Full Version : Uhh... Mapping... etiquette? Originality?



Jalyha
01-29-2014, 05:34 PM
So... I was looking at some pretty landscapes a friend was sharing with me, to sooth my ruffled feathers about a river issue... and there was this picture I skimmed past, but then I went through the pics a second time and realized it was one of the most beautiful (land/water-wise) things I'd ever seen. I didn't realize it at first because it's in a really dirty/ugly/metro place.

Normally, that wouldn't have occured to me at all... I don't paint metro areas... but when I saw this I thought "I want to map this".


Not, "as is" with buildings and factories and roads and smog... but, like... as a part of a larger fantasy world.

In essence, what I want to do, is steal an island. The whole island, with the river/falls around it, and the river banks on either side, and take the whole thing and clean it up.... send it back in time to when it was fresh and new and untouched by mankind. Then, I want to populate it PROPERLY with a race of people who will take care of it, and preserve it (some sort of elvish people, maybe) and build it up into a pretty little village and ... nevermind.

Point is, although I would be re-working *everything* (And all the actual marks on the virtual-paper would be mine,) I'd have to steal an island first.

I don't have any ethical holdups about this... I paint landscapes. That's what we do :P

BUT all the fantasy maps I've seen (and tutorials) here are about drawing your coastlines and whatnot from scratch or from random generations, and I started to wonder if stealing existing land forms is even allowed. (Or at least frowned upon..)


So, what's the etiquette for something like that? I don't mean someone else's work or their created worlds.. I mean, places that actually exist, that you could see from an airplane or a photograph or... you get what I mean, right? >.<

Falconius
01-29-2014, 05:57 PM
You want to use real existent landforms in your fantasy map? For shame!

Really, I'm not understanding your dilemma though....

Domino44
01-29-2014, 06:21 PM
I have seen people redo Tolkien maps before, I think it would be fine to use this map as a reference as long as it's going to be a personal project.

Vivi
01-29-2014, 06:31 PM
There is nothing wrong with what you are wanting to do, as I see it. You are not stealing someone else's work, all your doing is using nature as inspiration.

Jalyha
01-29-2014, 06:42 PM
Okay, since no one started throwing stones yet...


This is Goat Island:

60841

(Niagra)

So... I want to take it, and trace it (just the height of the land/depth of the water):

60842

So that I can see the heights/depths without all the... clutter.

Then I want to get rid of everything but that tracing, and try to... *redraw* (without tracing) and paint the water and land, and put forests where they once would have been, etc.

Then I want to put that in one of my fantasy worlds/maps/whatever and eventually build settlements there.

My *dilemma* is that I don't know if, starting with that tracing, what I want to do is allowed/legal/acceptable/appropriate/whatever.

Cause I don't know what the rules are with mapping :D

So... yea or nay?

Vivi
01-29-2014, 06:54 PM
Well as you are going to create your own drawing from the trace of the island, I can't see anything wrong with it. As long as you don't use the google image in the map, which you aren't, then nothing wrong with it. Should look quite interesting.

Domino44
01-29-2014, 06:59 PM
I can't think of any reason that would be wrong so… yea!

Jalyha
01-29-2014, 07:08 PM
Okay, thanks guys :) I just wanted to make sure it wasn't like... cheating :o :p

Ilanthar
01-29-2014, 07:11 PM
I'm absolutely not an expert in law (especially in other countries), but I can't see any problem in your project. On the contrary, that seems to be a good idea :)

Besides, if I recall well, Google is largely using satellite data passed in the public domain (because "enough old" to be consider like this), as a lot of things in the big US agencies (meteorology, astronomy, USGS... and that's of good use for us!).

Azelor
01-29-2014, 08:54 PM
Both pictures does not look like the same place at all!

What Vivi said and this: Copying the image of Google is problematic but not a drawing based on the image. As far as I know, landform are not subject to copyrights:)

Jalyha
01-29-2014, 08:58 PM
Alright... Thanks everyone! (I've started my map as a WIP... if I get out of line, let me know? :P )

Cunning Cartographer
01-30-2014, 06:13 AM
Unless you are trying to sell the map you make then it's even less of an issue. Sure companies can stop you using any of their property (eg. Disney suing some Daycare centers for painting Disney characters as murals on the walls... yeh...) I honestly can't see Google hunting you down and hitting you up with a cease and desist :D

We all use images as inspiration, don't worry about it.

Falconius
01-30-2014, 07:44 AM
As much as I'm sure they'd like to, Google can't copyright the Earth, only their images of the Earth.

Jalyha
01-30-2014, 10:45 AM
As much as I'm sure they'd like to, Google can't copyright the Earth, only their images of the Earth.


STORY IDEA :o

Google as world conquerors ;_;

Gamerprinter
01-30-2014, 12:13 PM
Another thing to consider, maps produced by forum members intended for publication, that are co-opted by other cartographers here without permission for their own projects require the permission of both the original cartographer and the publisher - and often the answer is "no". Mike Schley is one of our renowned members doing lots of cartography commissions for Wizards of the Coast, often for D&D maps. Any of those maps posted here, cannot be reposted elsewhere or used in personal projects at all. There was a case where some new member here wanted to base a town on the style of Mike Schley, but literally used one of his maps to alter for his own purposes, but that member reposted his altered version on the forums. Mike Schley showed up and asked it to be removed from the boards and had the issue not been resolved a cease and desist order from WotC attorneys may have been the next recourse. So it depends on who the cartographer is, what is the intended published purpose for a given map, and who the publisher is - whether you can do derivitive work from maps produced by other cartographers.

Jalyha
01-30-2014, 01:09 PM
O.O Right. Well that makes sense I suppose. There's a huge distinction between "inspired by", "derivative of", and outright plagiarism, in any medium.

I'll make sure to only use real places :P

SumnerH
01-31-2014, 02:42 PM
As much as I'm sure they'd like to, Google can't copyright the Earth, only their images of the Earth.

This is basically right, but they have a copyright not just on those images but on those concrete representations. So if you did something that is clearly derivative of their images--e.g. an exact tracing, or maybe even a larger image that uses a partial outline taken from their photo--then you could fall under their copyright.

One good test for doing a map of something in the real world is "could I have made exactly this map if I had used a different set of images from slightly different angles as my source?" If so, then you're probably fine. If something you do depends on the exact picture used, then you need to dig deeper (is the photo copyrighted? Does my work fall under fair use? etc).

Jalyha
01-31-2014, 02:54 PM
Alright. :) I'm doing a slightly different angle anyway, so I should be safe, I mostly just used Google for a tracing that shows the basic layout/height info. :D ... then I'm using the tracing as a reference for that, not to actually draw on ! :) So I'm still okay, right?

SumnerH
01-31-2014, 05:22 PM
Sounds okay to me, but this isn't legal advice.

Midgardsormr
02-01-2014, 05:17 AM
I'd just like to add that a long time ago we actually had a challenge to base a map on a real-world location. If I recall correctly, the winner was a map of the Niagara region by RobA: http://www.cartographersguild.com/mapping-challenge-archive/628-june-entry-niagara.html

In addition, some mappers like to use a real coastline, or a synthesis of several coastlines, as a starting point for a fictional map. You can get realistic looking heightfields and mountain ranges the same way. Those are even better because it's really unlikely that someone will recognize a heightmap, whereas they might recognize a coast.

Jalyha
02-01-2014, 10:26 AM
I'd just like to add that a long time ago we actually had a challenge to base a map on a real-world location. If I recall correctly, the winner was a map of the Niagara region by RobA: http://www.cartographersguild.com/mapping-challenge-archive/628-june-entry-niagara.html

In addition, some mappers like to use a real coastline, or a synthesis of several coastlines, as a starting point for a fictional map. You can get realistic looking heightfields and mountain ranges the same way. Those are even better because it's really unlikely that someone will recognize a heightmap, whereas they might recognize a coast.




Ohgodialmosthadaheartattack. I thought it was going to be a close up pic of goat island too :o :( Then I was like, YAY he did the part of land I'm not doing! :D :D :D So it's still okay to do it, right?

Anyway


Okay so... I don't know how to make a real heightmap, but I pretty much just did the coastline and water depths... (I'm making up my own heights for the land) It's funny, cause the waterfalls move the same way !!

Where was I going with this.. I forget...

Korash
02-01-2014, 11:57 AM
and to illustrate Mid's point about recognizing coasts from real world data, here is something that I did with Arsheesh's tutorial using Wilbur and Gimp.

60943

This is a stretched out version of the Falkland Islands that I am planning on running a campaign in. All it is atm is the geological features of the world, but like others, if you are using public sources for the layout of natural features, I see no problem with using or mapping good ol' Mother Gaea :)

Can't wait to see what you do with Her. :D

Midgardsormr
02-02-2014, 02:35 AM
Ohgodialmosthadaheartattack. I thought it was going to be a close up pic of goat island too

Ha! I totally didn't even realize that you were talking about the same area. Complete coincidence. Or maybe a subconscious synchronicity.

Jalyha
02-02-2014, 03:06 AM
The funniest part is that reading you quoting ME, I couldn't read what I wrote there, for a minute... :o

Me and goat island are duking it out at the moment... trying to learn how to REALLY use gimp, before I get anything too set in stone... :P