Free Maps?
November 16, 2006 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find free maps that can be used in a book?

I'm trying to find a source for public domain maps of various regions around the world that are (reasonably) current and that I can republish in the front matter of a book.

I wondered if this was possible with US Government maps, seeing as my tax dollars have already paid for them once, but couldn't find a clear answer, as the book itself is a commerical property, so I can't imagine fair use applies.

I saw this askmefi thread, but still am not sure what the answer is, relating the for-profit publication.

Anyone have any idea where I might look, or if this is even possible? Am I just going to have to suck it up and pay for the maps I want? I don't want to steal from poor cartographers, after all.
posted by cal71 to Law & Government (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The CIA Factbook maps are public domain, which means they've relinquished all control over them, and can be used for anything at all. There are also country maps on each country's page.

(the same goes for all other US government publicatons, though be careful that the thing you want to use counts as a "government publication")
posted by cillit bang at 9:09 AM on November 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'd think you could check with your publisher, but I'm pretty sure that, as that thread holds, you can use US Government-created ones legally.
posted by fogster at 9:10 AM on November 16, 2006

posted by cal71 at 9:11 AM on November 16, 2006

The CIA maps are hardly print quality. Assuming you are working with a publisher on the book, they should have a graphics department which can either create the maps or a licensing division to get some quality, printable maps.
posted by JJ86 at 11:33 AM on November 16, 2006

The CIA maps are hardly print quality.

Are you including the PDF versions in that?
posted by cillit bang at 2:07 PM on November 16, 2006

I work for a publisher. My wife does the maps.

1. She begins with the CIA Factbook maps and prints them out.
2. She then traces (using a lightbox) the relevant lines from the map.
3. She scans that, and opens up the file in Photoshop (although we're looking into moving to Illustrator).
4. She modifies, tweaks, cleans up, etc., and adds in textures for water, mountains, etc.
5. She then opens that file up in InDesign and sets the labels for the countries, oceans, etc.

There might be (and probably is) an easier way to do it, but this is the best method we've found. I'd be interested to hear about any other processes.
posted by Alt F4 at 7:28 AM on November 17, 2006

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