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That Google Earth image could get you into hot water!

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

Did you know that reproducing a Google Earth image without a license could get your firm into big legal trouble?

Using Google maps as a handy reference or for personal use is fine. But to use these images or maps for commercial purposes (such as presentations, reports, and proposals), you must obtain the proper images from a licensed Google Earth Pro user.

Using Google Earth images for commercial use without a license is copyright infringement.

Protect Google’s copyright

Google Earth Pro images must be accompanied by the Google logo and copyright information. Google has strict copyright guidelines and attribution requirements.

Apply the same level of scrutiny to subcontractor deliverables

Did you know that if your subcontractor delivers a document using unauthorized Google imagery, your firm could be found liable for copyright infringement?

At one of my previous employers, we found unauthorized Google aerial imagery without the proper disclaimer language. We contacted our legal counsel, who confirmed that the company's Google Earth Pro license did not cover subcontractors, and we would have violated our licensing agreement if we had included the unauthorized imagery in our company's deliverable.

The solution is simple:

If you want to use a Google Earth map or image, find a licensed Google Earth Pro user.

Licensed Google Earth Pro users can help you find an image and prepare it correctly for publication. You can use the free online Google Earth to locate and orient the image you need, and then send it to the licensed user for download and customization as needed. Google has a list of contractors offering licensed mapping development services, so it should be easy to follow copyright laws if you don't have in-house Google Earth Pro licensed and trained users.

For more information about using Google Earth Pro images, refer to Google’s web site.

This article is the fourth in a series about ways to protect yourself and your company legally and ethically by avoiding copyright infringement. Read also about avoiding copyright infringement in text, photos, and client logos.

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