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Your friend Google... Earth!?

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:47 am
by Ricklionhart
I've read quite a few questions on the forum about where to get graphics such as mountains, rivers, grass, etc, and one of the more common answers is Google, ie the Images section. But don't forget Google Earth, guys... you can find almost anywhere in the world great background textures for a map - and especially don't forget that you can TILT THE ANGLE so that you are looking at nearby mountains etc in lovely 3D. You want really great looking mountains? Find some, tilt down, snapshot the real thing and then use 'Posterize' in Photoshop or a similar program to make them look more like 'map' graphics. Above all, use your imagination. You don't need to rip off someone else's copyrighted graphics to make a good map, you'd be surprised how quickly a blank canvas can turn into an unexpected work of art! :D

PS - Another really useful tool you may not have thought of is RPG map editors. There are quite a number of both free and online ones, some of which are very good. Do a Google search for 'RPG map maker free'

And PPS, if you'd like to see how to make mountains in less than a minute from scratch, see the panel I put up at

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:57 am
by blackj3sus
so i can use those mountains.. right? :wink:

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:58 pm
by Ricklionhart
blackj3sus wrote:so i can use those mountains.. right? :wink:
Yes, absolutely, you idiot! :P The copyright act doesn't apply to the internet anyway, according to my post on ... ights.html

Posted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 12:05 am
by Kartofile
Hi Rick. Thanks for all your neat maps lately. I really like the Tasmania one.

As for copyright law applying to the Internet... I hate to burst your bubble, but according to US law, "tangible medium of expression" includes electronic data. Basically it means you can't copyright something unless you record it in some way. defines "fixed in a tangible medium of expression" as:
  • "A requirement before a work can be protected by a copyright. The work must be recorded in some physical medium, whether on paper, audio tape or computer disk. This means that spontaneous speech or musicianship that is not recorded, (a jazz solo, for instance) is not protected by copyright."
Google Earth images would be great... except that the Google Earth website says:
  • "You can personally use an image from the application (for example on your website, on a blog or in a word document) as long as you preserve the copyrights and attributions including the Google logo attribution. However, you cannot sell these to others, provide them as part of a service, or use them in a commercial product such as a book or TV show without first getting a rights clearance from Google."
I don't know whether maps in the Plugin Manager would be "personal use" or part of a "commercial product." :?

A good source for public domain maps, photographs and artwork is Wikimedia Commons ( because it displays the copyright status of all its images. Not all the images are public domain, but lots of them are.

Happy mapmaking! :)

A mouthful

Posted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:02 am
by Ricklionhart
Actually, its that 'commercial' vs 'personal' which is the crux of all copyright debates, and in that sense its fair to say that EVERYTHING is copyright but NOTHING much can be done about violations of it. The simple reason for this is that copyright is a civil matter, and even where its infringement enters the area of criminal jurisdiction, the owner of the copyrighted material must have been 'deprived' to have any sort of case. This deprivation can take the form of financial (eg 'I lost sales because he copied my art') or even personal ('He copied my artwork and now people think less of me because they thought his bad copy was my work'). But in every case, if there is no definite deprivation by the originator, then there is essentially no breach of copyright. How all this relates to MapMaking for Lux? Well, I guess no-one should obviously rip off another person, eg on my blog you'll find a Map of Myths and Fairies done by Julian Hector. I asked Julian for permission to do a Lux map of this, and he said no. In no circumstances then would making a map from the Fairies one be 'fair'. On the other hand, taking small elements such as trees or mountains from another map would be considered 'fair' by most people since it does not reproduce the 'essence' of the original, only uses a couple of small elements. We must remember people learn to make their own stuff by looking at and copying the work of others, and this is more so nowadays than ever before. All in all, the watchword on copyright is to be as fair as possible and ask, 'Would *I* be ok with that if the original was mine?' Not exactly a legal definition, but good enough as a rule of thumb.