Saturday, March 14, 2009

Who’s Copying Who?

Very interesting moments are happening now on Malaysia and Singapore’s GPS community. After earlier, Malfreemaps (also known as MFM) were being accused of copying the data from Malsingmaps (also known as MSM) for Singapore map, right now there are reports saying that the new Garmin-compiled MSM version of the map is allegedly copying the data from MFM. To be exact, the new Garmin-compiled MSM map is making use of the old data belongs to previous mappers who have left MSM and formed MFM. This is after Garmin announced that they have agreements with MSM to pre-load and distribute Garmin-compiled MSM maps for their users.

I am very much interested to know what will happen next, especially since Garmin is already involved in this case. From what I can see, the root cause of what happens now is the issue about map ownership, on whether the source data of the map, which is the intermediary .mp files (in Polish format, please CMIIW), belongs to the mappers or the community. This issue has actually been heatedly debated way long back in 2006 (before I joined the community), which resulted in the creation of (now defunct) community (the MSM mappers community) at that time.

When some of the MSM mappers left and created a new community called MFM, they brought back all the source data with them, and used the data as a base to build the MFM maps now. I was asking on why MFM would have to start with only the northern peninsular Malaysia area (which is the area where the mappers are in-charge with) while the MSM version 2.30 (which was the next version of MSM after the split) could still retain all the maptiles. I was told that the mappers who migrated to MFM have allowed, for the last time, for their maps to be incorporated into the MSM version 2.30, after which, MSM would have to source their own data to map and rebuild the areas from scratch.

On a further development within the MSM community, mappers from another GPS community, Masmap, came on board to start rebuilding those missing areas being left by the MFM mappers. I was then later made to understand that the Masmap mappers were actually ex-MSM mappers who left during the formation of community, as a result of the map ownership issues I have mentioned above. Based on the further development, my understanding was that MSM would build the map for northern peninsular Malaysia from scratch by the Masmap mappers team.

Therefore, I was quite surprised to learn about the allegations that MSM has used the old data (including those previously belong to the ex-mappers who had since formed MFM) to supply the map to Garmin for the new Garmin-compiled Malsingmaps map. When I brought this issue up on MSM forum, I was told that the data does not belong to the mappers, but belongs to the community, so MSM has the right to use the data. That was before I received a friendly warning from the site owner for not discussing about this matter in the open forum, which I abide. Eventually, my post with regards to the matter got deleted :) , together with the answer (if I’m not mistaken, from bab1e) I received, which I understand fully since the issue might be too sensitive to be discussed in an open forum.

Nevertheless, as a normal GPS user and a (very small) contributor to both communities, I really hope that this matter can be settled amicably.

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