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May 23, 2007 / Steven Pousty

About the Virtual Earth TERMS OF USE


So there they are, and they are very clear  (kudos for MS on that).  But I think they are actually more restrictive for people like me in the consulting business in particular look at item #3.

You are not permitted to use the API or the Service on any intranet or non-public website, unless You have a MWS/VE Agreement that includes such rights.

Does this mean if I want to use VE imagery with CNDDB records on top for my biologists internally I am in violation of their TOS?

What about this doozy in 5.10

You may not, nor may You authorize others to: i) copy, save, download, distribute, transmit or in any way manipulate the photographic imagery and the 3D models in the Service;…

Does that mean I can not take a screen shot of VE imagery and put it in a report to a client? Forget to a client, what about in a screenshot to coworker. Certainly seems that way to me.

If my concerns are correct (which is a big if), then VE just got a whole lot less useful for the kinds of things I, and my company, need to do. I understand the MS will probably never come to my door and say – hey you took a screen shot of that wetland deliniation and included it in your field manual – but my company prefers to be on the right side of the rules.



Leave a Comment
  1. Ben Slater / May 24 2007 4:53 am

    You’ll also find the same restrictions against intranet use in the Google Maps API user agreement, and I believe in Yahoo Maps as well. As far as I’ve been able to tell, there is no mapping service that allows people to use it in an intranet mashup – unless you pay for it.

  2. thesteve0 / May 24 2007 8:30 am

    Hey Ben:
    Yeah I totally agree with you. I should have finished my post with a note stating that this is no different than GE or any of the other commercial mapping APIs.

    The reason I was pointing this out is because quite a few people I have talked to seem to think that the MS Live mapping API is free for just about any use. In reality, it seems the only difference between GE and VE is that in VE it is not illegal for me to load it up at work and look at the images. Other than that the terms are awfully similar and not very useful to many people in the world I operate in.

    I understand that the licensing may have changed since Mix07 but the VE licensing still doesn’t work for us.

  3. Richard / May 30 2007 10:56 am

    I’m certainly not a legal expert, and I really don’t get that item number 3 (what’s the difference between using the Api for a public site and an intra-net site anyway?), but I read that other item differently.
    5.10. I read this as the underlying imagery procured by MS as a part of the service, and the 3d models as the data itself, not just screen shots or snapshots from the interface. It’s something that people do all the time, and I’m sure they’re not all signing agreements to do that.

  4. VE Insider / May 30 2007 11:32 am

    I can only speak for VE, but I suppose GE is very much in the same predicament. Here is the what really is going on.

    1) you, the consumer, want everything for free, especially if it comes from MS. You tend to ignore that it costs a lot of money to put this all together (2000+ servers to start with)

    2) Imagery vendors often think they have the right to charge 10 times the market price when dealing with MS. They want to very narrowly restrict the use of their imagery so they can charge extra fees for any additional uses.

    There are only 2 ways for VE to resolve the dilemma. We either charge the users for the additional use, or we restrict the usage of the licensed content to avoid getting milked by greedy vendors. We won’t need a poll to figure out which one is less popular.

    In most cases we only need to protect the actual data. Therefore screenshots are a non issue. However Intranet solutions take away our control of where and how imagery is stored and we need that control to enforce the license restrictions we sign up to.

    Sorry folks FREE doesn’t mean free to grab. It means free to use within reasonable limits.

  5. thesteve0 / May 30 2007 11:59 am

    Hey VE insider and Richard:
    VE – I totally understand your dilema and I am sympathetic. My point in this post is to point out to people exactly what you said. Again – I think your license is less restrictive than GE but still not what the word on the street.

    Richard – yeah see that is exactly why I wanted clarification bc I think you could read it either way.

  6. Kent / Jan 23 2008 11:09 am

    I’m looking at the November 2007 version of the Terms of Use. The restrictions about use on an intranet have been removed. The clause about photographic imagery has been changed to a restriction on Bird’s eye aerial imagery. Great.

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