GeoDRM. Who’d have guessed?

After yesterday’s news that WMS server data can easily be served as KML, I emailed The Atlas of Canada, which serves WMS for free, if they wouldn’t consider opening up their data to Google Earth.

The answer? “We’re working on it”:


Because of some restrictions in terms of Policy issues i.e. access control (who?) and Digital Rights (licensing, liability), we can not provide this feature at this time within our WMSs. We are addressing these issues as we speak as part of the overall effort through internal means and within the Open Geospatial Consortium GeoDRM group.

We will keep you informed ….

All the best for now

— Mohamed

Mohamed Habbane, Ph.D.

Canada Centre for Remote Sensing/Centre Canadien de télédétection
Natural Resources Canada/Ressources Naturelles Canada

GeoDRM? I should have guessed there’d be such a thing. Soon we’ll be faced with the phenomenon of illegal layersharing:-)

GeoDRM stands a better chance than DRM for music or video, however — music and video have as an achilles heel that they are not interactive, so they can always be recorded at the experiential stage. Dynamically served maps and data appear far more difficult to “record” for playback. Perhaps in the future we will have pirate Earths, where de-DRM’ed data is available, but I imagine the cost of running such a place would be prohibitive.

Interestingly, the library metaphor is bandied about quite a bit in the context of serving spatial information for free. Rights are protected, but access is subsidized as it is perceived as a “community good”. This is where the Atlas of Canada appears headed.

One thought on “GeoDRM. Who’d have guessed?”

  1. This has been a problem for years in the GIS community. Today I have great satellite imagery for California, but I am only allowed to use it on one project even though I have many in the area that would benefit from it.

    Many say the power of GIS is in the data (without the great satellite imagery what would Google earth be?) and those are who will control the future of these products, not Google/Microsoft/ESRI/Yahoo!. What may happen is companies start buying exclusive rights to media catalogs, basically freezing each other out of the market. That is why some are not excited to see the Google’s and Microsoft’s of the world fight this out because they fear exclusive content.

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