Saturday, November 25, 2006

Roundabout streets

I cannot help but feel a sense of Virtual Map getting a taste of its own medicine. It is now being sued by the Singapore Land Authority for alleged copyright infringement on the use of the land maps that it once licensed from SLA. Why do I feel this? Because for too often in the past, Virtual Map has sued companies left right and centre over their alleged infringement of VM's 'copyrighted' maps.

Well, what's wrong about that, as VM is protecting its licensing rights? What's wrong is that they went after anybody who so much as put up a single map taken from their free service on their websites or printed materials, no matter if they are for profit or for social purposes. And they seem to be doing it with relish without giving so much as a warning letter first. It became so common that one gets the feeling that suing companies for copyright infringement was their main business activity. The only other party that was happy were probably the lawyers.

I had a young friend, hardly out of school, who did a website for a company (not paid a lot actually, he wasn't a professional) who, like many then, didn't realise that putting a map taken off could attract a law suit. The company got sued and this friend of mine felt so bad about the whole thing. Sure, VM has right on its side to sue, but in the process, it lost a lot of goodwill from the rest of the business community as well as from people who learnt about this almost gangster-like behaviour. And it isn't only my experience alone. I have friends and colleagues who know of similar cases and all of them are agreed that VM is a big bad bully.

Well, now, the bully is facing a 100lb gorrilla. I'd like to see how this pans out. No prize for guessing where my sympathies lie.

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1 comment :

Anonymous said...

you may not know, the map price is actually approx. S$100, they raised the price to a few thousands, then send out lawyer letter, so that they can blackmail 10,000 per map. they black mail a few hundreds company, intend to cheat a few milion.