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An elusive address…

My boss asked me to borrow a map off the internet today, so I got to explain the concept of trap streets. These are fake streets inserted into maps so the cartography company can tell if somebody is ripping off their stuff. Not just streets, any fake feature can be inserted as a copyright trap.

They hit us over the head with this when I worked in a corporate art department. You work for deep pockets; do not steal.

Bartlett Place above is a famous one from the A-Z. The A-Z (pronounced “A to zed”, naturally) is the most famous street map in the UK. They sell them everywhere here (or did before GPS, anyway). I believe I once read that there are 200 trap streets (or features) in the A-Z for London.

Ironically, you can’t copyright trap streets, at least in US law. See if you can wrap your head around this decision:

“To treat ‘false’ facts interspersed among actual facts and represented as actual facts as fiction would mean that no one could ever reproduce or copy actual facts without risk of reproducing a false fact and thereby violating a copyright … If such were the law, information could never be reproduced or widely disseminated.”

I think I got that.

p.s. I wrote to the man and asked if we could use his map and he said yes.


Comment from QuasiModo
Time: November 5, 2019, 11:39 pm

Learn something new every day here at the Weasel Times & Stoat Intelligencer :+)

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: November 6, 2019, 2:35 am

Italy has upped the game to the province level…


Comment from peacelovewoodstock
Time: November 6, 2019, 12:51 pm

I worked for a direct mail fundraising org some years ago, we would license mailing lists for one time use. The list vendors would seed a number of fake names tied to real residential addresses that they controlled, so they would be able to determine if we used the list more than we had licensed for.

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: November 6, 2019, 3:43 pm

Abruzzo – “how much will it take to make Molise disappear eh?”

Sounds like having your brother declared dead in India before you invite him around for tea to tell him you own his land now.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: March 16, 2023, 7:49 pm

I worked for a civil engineering company as a draftsman, and drew many “original” maps. I drew a very simple street map of a little town in the panhandle, that was maybe 2 miles long and one mile wide. Leroy lettering on mylar. I don’t even remember who the map was for.

JavaMan and I were driving back to south Texas after a trip to the panhandle and stopped at a gas station in this same little town. On my way to the restroom, I found a map on the wall. All the engineering company markings had been cut off, and it had been reproduced so often that the once sharp lines gone, but it was my map—30 years or so after I drew the original. It was like seeing a picture of someone I used to know.

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