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Monday, September 11, 2006

More on the Libre Map Project

Aliya Sternstein, ‘Ransom’ demand pays for free maps, Federal Computer Week, September 11, 2006.  Excerpt:

Two years ago, a mountain biker, frustrated because he could not find free, official topographic maps online, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Geological Survey. After USGS denied the request several times, the cyclist — Jared Benedict — decided to raise enough money to centralize the government’s topographic maps online for free.

USGS had told Benedict that he could buy the maps he needed from the agency, so he did. He purchased a hard drive containing more than 56,000 digital topographic maps from a USGS business partner and used his Web site to ask donors for a $1,600 “ransom” to cover the expense.

“Donate or purchase maps on DVD to meet the ransom demand,” Benedict urged readers of his Web site. “Once the $1,600 ransom is met, all maps will be handed over to the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive will make every map available for free download forever!” ...

USGS spokeswoman Denver Makle said the agency neither supports nor objects to Benedict’s efforts. Citizens can buy topographic maps through the online USGS store for a small charge that covers the cost of materials, labor, shipping and handling, he added. The agency does not make a profit from its map sales, he said.

In addition, most topographic maps are available for download at the USGS Seamless Server at

The Internet Archive is committed to helping Benedict complete his project. “We will make these files available to others to build applications on top of” and at no cost, said Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archive’s co-founder.

PS: For more background, see my blog posting for August 29, 2006.