Rights in geospatial information: A shifting legal terrain

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Melbourne University Law Review, 2017, 41 (3), pp. 957 - 998
Issue Date:
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© 2017 Melbourne University Law Review. All rights reserved. The growing significance of 'big data' raises new issues for copyright law, not least when the data is presented visually or graphically to generate new and useful information and insights. One such example is the case of digital maps. Maps and written descriptions of geographic information have long presented challenges for the law of copyright, most particularly because they are perceived as factual compilations. The appearance of maps, and the information they contain, has changed considerably over time. However, the last few years has seen an extraordinary transformation in the methods and practices of collecting, storing, representing and disseminating geospatial data and information. This article considers how copyright law applied in the analogue era to regulate the production and dissemination of geographic information, the effects of new technologies and digitisation on how law applies to geospatial data and associated products and systems, and whether either a database right or some other form of protection is required.
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