Don’t Scrape Maps From Google Maps or Google Earth

August 11th, 2010

Iran Watson started a thread in the PFRE flickr group about shooting acreage so I jumped in and described how on a large land listing we had I had used Photoshop to make a put a transparent surveyors map layer over a Google satellite map layer so that buyers could see the vegetation, the streets and how the newly subdivided lots fit on the property as a whole. It was a work of art and beautifully illustrated all the existing land features and the newly platted features at the same time. The seller thought it was fantastic. I was going to write a post and show it to you here as an example of how to make illustrations to marketing land.

In the process of doing this post I did a little research on the Google Maps and Google Earth terms of service and as far as I can tell using Google Maps in this way violates their copyright. Not surprising I guess. So I’ve changed my advice. It’s tempting use screen grabs of Google maps and mark them up with Photoshop to make a nice illustrations for land listings but one of the things a MLS member does when they upload images to the MLSs they are asserting that they are not violating copyrights.

So don’t scrape Google Maps! And I promise Larry and Sergey that I won’t do it any more either. Too bad, I was looking forward to showing you my beautiful subdivision/satellite map.

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7 Responses to “Don’t Scrape Maps From Google Maps or Google Earth”

  • Great post! I have been tempted to use a Google Maps screen shot in my real estate appraisals and honestly had not thought about Google’s copyright. I now know that I can not scrape content from Google Maps or Earth or save it for offline use.

  • Bryan, I think you’re okay using the screen shot in your appraisal reports as long as you don’t modify it:
    “Basis for contractors’ or environmental consultants’ reports: Conforming with the general guidelines above, if the analysis of the scene in question has been created using Google Maps or Earth, you may use the Content in printed materials. You may not extract Content for derivative uses that do not relate to the products, such as for further editing within another drafting, desktop publishing, or GIS application. “

  • Don’t modify the image – float the image of your subdivision over the image of the google map with it’s own image style applied (yes, transparency). Google map is in it’s own html tag, and unchanged. Want to prove to Google that the image is unchanged, use a hover to slide your transparent image over the same location as the google map, and the non-hover style would put your image 10000 pixels off to the left (hide it).

  • Why don’t you just use the tools in Google maps to place a lot outline over the Google map. You can then save that as a custom map. Google also supplies tools to allow you to display that map on your website. Here is an example of a simple layout. You see the satillite view first and then the lot layout pops up. With a little work, a great deal more is possible.

  • If these are not ok to use, what alternatives are “legal”?

  • I stopped using Google Earth over a year ago and now use Bing virtual earth. You can create snap shots of bird’s eye views and ‘video’ aerial tours. Bing-free, Google Earth $500/yr subscription. They are a great additional to virtual tours, especially for people relocating to the area. My clients on Lake Martin really love it as it helps prospective buyers see where the house is on the lake and it proximity to marina’s, restaurants and other lake hot spots.

  • I just received a news release from RTV Photography & Virtual Tours. It seems as though they have scored a preferred status with Kudos to them. So I checked out a couple of their virtual tours and see that they are using Google Earth. Is this kosher? I have also refrained from using this tool as I understood it was off limits to anyone using it for a professional service.

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