7.07.2006

Getting Lost for Copyright

Two nights ago I had dinner here at a friend's house, where I made new acquaintence. This guy works for the legal team of Microsoft here in Europe. He told me of an interesting 'feature' of Microsoft mapping software. He and some other folks were in Las Vegas and wanted to go see the Grand Canyon. So he fired up Microsoft's mapping software and found a route. The nice four-lane rode eventually narrowed to two lanes, and they cruised on, following their directions to the tee. Then the two lane road became a gravel road, although this was not indicated on their map. Then it ceased to be a road at all, just a path flanked by telephone lines. The map clearly showed the road continuing. They had to find an alternative route to the Grand Canyon.

When he got back to Redmond, he jokingly complained about the false map. He was told that Microsoft didn't actually make the mapping software, but leased or bought it from another company. This company, he was told, was rumored to put in roads that didn't actually exist, so as to be able to protect their maps by copyright. I have trouble believing that they would deliberately corrupt their mapping database in this way, but it's just crazy enough to be true. At thevery least, it gives us all an excuse next time we get lost...

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