(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Contraband Mini-Subway Maps For Portable Devices Suddenly All The Rage

from the they're-in-fashion dept

I'm heading to New York City soon and instead of my favorite street "vendors" selling plastic Rolex watches, perhaps they'll be pushing contraband NYC subway maps. Earlier this week we pointed to the story about public transportation officials in both New York and San Francisco freaking out over a guy who dared to offer downloadable maps that would display on an iPod. Yes, you might think this is a public service for those riding public transportation, but you would be wrong. It's all about the copyright violation (or so we're told). As ridiculous as that sounds, it's looking increasingly like this stingy "let them take cabs!" attitude is coming back to bite these officials. The Associated Press picked up on the story today and mentioned that the NYC MTA has offered to let the guy distribute NYC subway maps for free... for a mere $500 license fee. How dare someone try to help people not get lost without paying up first! If someone asks me for directions on the Subway, I'm going to have charge them apparently. Of course, like all good contraband things, this effort appears to be having the reverse effect. Consider it the Streisand Effect meets the Subway. Engadget is reporting that now (perhaps for a limited time) you can download NYC subway maps to your PSP. For each effort to smack down these maps, expect many more to pop up. Psst! Hey buddy? You wanna know how to get to Grand Central?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    rbk303, Sep 30th, 2005 @ 12:40am


    Actually sir, it looks like the people are pretty angry about this one... maybe we shoulod back off?

    Wha!? Back off!? Thats Five Hundred Dollars my friend... no freakin' WAY!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Mainiac, Sep 30th, 2005 @ 2:36am

    No Subject Given

    "Sorry sir, I'm not licensed to give you directions."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    FH, Sep 30th, 2005 @ 5:35am

    It all comes down to...

    ...information wants to be free. I personally think that it's time we take a good long hard look at not only copyright and other so-called "intellectual property" and come up with a sane way to deal with it, instead of adding more draconian restrictions. This is just another absurd example of this make-believe IP BS being thrust into the limelight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Mousky, Sep 30th, 2005 @ 5:41am


    Quotes from the article:

    "BART spokesman Linton Johnson said the agency is working on coming up with its own downloadable version of subway maps for on iPods and other portable devices."

    Working on its own version? Why not ask this guy to do it for them? Idiots.

    "He said BART's chief complaint with Bright's maps was that they didn't reflect changes made to the transit system's route alignment earlier this month. "We don't want to confuse our customers," Johnson said."

    So you send a cease and desist letter from your letter instead of a friendly letter saying "Hey, thanks for promoting public transit. By the way, we made some changes to our routes and suggest that you update your downloadable maps. Thanks." Idiots.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Si, Sep 30th, 2005 @ 5:50am

    Downloaded subway maps

    I simply grabbed the PDF for mta.gov site and downloaded it to my iPaq. If they have a probelem with that let them take it off the site.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Oliver Wendell Jones, Sep 30th, 2005 @ 5:58am

    Re: Idiots

    Where I used to work, they shut someone down for a similar project and said the same thing "we're working on our own version". When I asked who was actually working on it, I was told "well, no one yet, but it was mentioned at a meeting a year or so ago". That was 4 plus years ago and as of when I left earlier this year - no one had started working on it yet...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    DGK12, Sep 30th, 2005 @ 8:31am


    The only concern they might have is either A. since they made the maps, they're offended that people are using them, or B. They didn't think of it first and feel rightly stupid.

    They probably want to attach frivolous advertisements or something 'official'. Changes, hah. If they were concerned about the public they wouldn't deprive their customers of convenience.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    dave, Oct 3rd, 2005 @ 9:19am

    Then the MTA should provide maps...

    It wouldnt be an issue if the MTA (NYC's Subway) actually had a decent number of maps on the platforms...They can be very hard to find

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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