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Google Software

Google Claims a TOS Violation On RouteBuilder For Using the Map API (medium.com) 130

New submitter acm writes: RouteBuilder has been using the Google Maps API to help people share their routes (bicycling, hiking, etc) for a decade. Last week, Google sent an email demanding Routebuilder stop using the API: "In particular,your application violates clause 10.4(c), which does not allow developers to create a wrapper — an application that re-implements or duplicates the Google Maps website or mobile app, or any of the Google Maps APIs." Why did it take the Google Maps Team 10 years to decide they don't want pedometer-type sites to use their API?
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Google Claims a TOS Violation On RouteBuilder For Using the Map API

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  • because (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jemmyw ( 624065 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @04:42PM (#51273941)

    because they're about to launch their own pedometer type site?

    • by drolli ( 522659 )

      Now it fits to the "wearables" trend.

    • Why did it take the Google Maps Team 10 years to decide

      Google didn't take 10yrs to decide they don't want wrappers, they "decided" that when they wrote the terms of service.

      Some pertinent questions.
      When did routebuilder "decide" to ignore the TOS?
      When did google "decide" to do something about it?
      How does anyone know for certain what's in a TOS agreement if nobody ever reads it?

    • Re:because MONEY (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @06:53PM (#51274607)

      When you don't understand the reason look to the money.

      • And why would this be an issue? Google gives away free use of the Maps API under certain restrictions. Why, being the developer, owner, and indeed the host of all the Google Maps infrastructure, shouldn't they be able to restrict people without commercial licenses from competing with their products? Google is not a commune, it's a company.

        • by skovnymfe ( 1671822 ) on Monday January 11, 2016 @08:08AM (#51276859)
          But it's unfair that Google gets to take advantage of all the investments they make. Unfair, unfair, unfair.
          • No, it's unfair that they "bait and switch" this way. They produced an open API. An entire app ecosystem evolved around the Google free APIs, and Google's commercial rivals were forced out of business. Now there's no-one else for these sites to get their mapping from, and Google's squashing them.
            • Now there's no-one else for these sites to get their mapping from

              Well, there's OpenStreetMap [openstreetmap.org], which all third-parties should be using since, as TFA proves, using the Google Maps API is not safe.

              • by jc42 ( 318812 )

                Now there's no-one else for these sites to get their mapping from

                Well, there's OpenStreetMap [openstreetmap.org], which all third-parties should be using since, as TFA proves, using the Google Maps API is not safe.

                Indeed, and it's nice of the /. editors to send us all this reminder of the fact that you shouldn't ever build anything that depends on a "service" provided by just one company. They can and sometimes do terminate such services, often without notice, or modify them so what you're using them for no longer works. And they tend to get access to all the info about your stuff, to use as they like.

                In particular, any organization that depends on a company's service is run by fools. You might be able to use s

                • Sane companies are not built to be eternal, and certainly are not built to be immediately and eternally stable. Anyone who discards solutions because they are not infinitely viable is a fool.

                  The most effective company strategy has been "the startup": create a product which works *now*, if only as a proof-of-concept. Attract investors who will allow that proof-of-concept to become a longer-term solution. Die fast. Repeated effort is not wasted effort, as you literally cannot predict which differences from it

            • How could they have performed a bait and switch when the TOS of the API haven't changed?

              This has always been against the TOS, if routebuilder doesn't want to abide by the license, they can pay for ESRI instead.

    • by GPS Pilot ( 3683 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @09:40PM (#51275351)

      RouteBuilder gives access to old-style Google Maps, which everybody loved, and impedes Google's forced migration to new-style Google Maps, which everybody hates [slashdot.org].

    • Re:because (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bluelip ( 123578 ) on Monday January 11, 2016 @11:26AM (#51277777) Homepage Journal

      The better headline would be "Website gets a free ride for ten years and now bitches"

      • THIS!

        More to the point, people who are accustomed to "free" always bitch when it becomes "Non-free". Okay, almost always. First hit is free kid, after you're hooked, you'll owe me your life.

    • by CTU ( 1844100 )

      That was what I thought...just like what apple would do really.

  • OpenStreetMap (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I don't see why that site needs Google Maps specifically. Just exchange it for other service. OpenStreetMap is free and tiles are available by a couple different providers. There are others, such as Bing Maps and HERE Maps, but I have no idea about their TOS.

  • Smallest violin (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaligarisDesk ( 1189113 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @05:06PM (#51274071)
    I'm sure someone could reimplement it using open street maps, but here's why it won't happen: From routebuilder's FAQ:

    I'm building a website that would benefit from some of the features of RouteBuilder. Will you give me the source code for free? I'm sorry, I'm not interested in giving away the source code behind this website for free. However, I am open to selling a license to use it.

    • They can still use Openstreetmap, the license doesn't preclude commercial use.

      • My point is that I don't feel very bad because he didn't open source a project that he had no time to maintain. If he is going to cry a river, then he should turn the project over to the community so someone can implement it using a different library.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    And why I avoid it. When you rely on third parties you have to play by there rules and often people jump onto a single third party for a variety of reasons. Mostly because there is some social or financial benefit. Examples: eBay (more people equal more sales/faster sales/etc) or Facebook (obviously if you want to chat with everyone you know in the real world multiple platforms doesn't work terribly well). We could avoid these one provider problems by developing decentralized systems where each cog in the m

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @05:10PM (#51274097) Journal
    What happened? fit.google.com [google.com].

    When you build on somebody's platform, it's more or less expected that this sort of thing can happen. So long as you fill a niche that they cannot or don't wish to, you are an asset, you make their platform better vs. the competition, as long as you don't do anything blatantly abusive or system-breaking, any little TOS details clearly don't forbid whatever you are doing. You might even get called onstage during some CES demo or given favorable marketing placement.

    If your thing is either deemed a threat to the platform(as with Netscape's 'reduce windows to a set of poorly debugged device drivers' trash talking) or now overlaps with a feature that the platform owner wishes to add to their offerings; well, maybe you get acquired(as SoundJam MP became iTunes), maybe you'll just get squished. Happens every time.
  • From Wikipedia: Laches (/lætz/, la-chz, like "latches"; /letz/, lay-chz; Law French: "remissness", "dilatoriness," from Old French laschesse) refers to a lack of diligence and activity in making a legal claim, or moving forward with legal enforcement of a right, in particular with regard to equity; hence, it is an unreasonable delay that can be viewed as prejudicing the opposing [defending] party. When asserted in litigation, it is an equity defense, that is, a defense to a claim for an equitable reme
    • The person invoking laches is asserting that an opposing party has "slept on its rights," and that, as a result of this delay, circumstances have changed, witnesses and/or evidence may have been lost or no longer available, etc., such that it is no longer a just resolution to grant the plaintiff's claim

      This probably works in cases of copyright infringement or even in cases where you're claiming damages but I doubt it will work well when you're actively consuming their resources. To encourage people to visit, Mcdonalds could give a free coffee to everyone that comes in their restaurant for 10 years but that doesn't obligate them to continue to provide that free coffee indefinitely in the future. Likewise, I could allow you to come pick apples off my tree for 10 years but assuming that it's clear that I o

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        This probably works in cases of copyright infringement or even in cases where you're claiming damages but I doubt it will work well when you're actively consuming their resources.

        The problem is to invoke Laches, you need to be the defendant in a civil case.

        Sounds like Google is just deactivating their API access within 14 days: not filing a lawsuit against them.

        Google has no obligation to contract with them to provide services, unless of course, they have a claim of an antitrust violation of some

    • Google isn't suing for an "equitable remedy", in other words, money. Google's just denying them access to the API they've been using. Laches doesn't mean you have to keep providing a given service eternally because some people have become dependent on it.

  • I'm sure a good lawyer can remind the Oompa Loompas about how the law works.

    They haven't complained for ten years? IANAL but I'd say it's too late to complain now.

    But that'll be for the courts to decide.
  • Look, let us be reasonable. Someone somewhere creates an app that duplicates the functionality of Google Maps. How will Google know about it instantly? Only when they find it they will send out the ToS violation notice. Do you really expect trawl through every dark corner of the internet, cataloging, classifying, indexing everything found? Its not like you can just ask someone or something "how do I plan a route" [google.com] and it will list all possible ways one can use the internet resources to do it. It takes time
  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Sunday January 10, 2016 @06:02PM (#51274367)

    RouteBuilder is not Open Source, the site says:

    Q: I'm building a website that would benefit from some of the features of RouteBuilder. Will you give me the source code for free?

    A: I'm sorry, I'm not interested in giving away the source code behind this website for free. However, I am open to selling a license to use it.

    Free use of Google Maps in applications comes with limits on how you can use it, and how many times you can hit the Google server for free. More than likely RouteBuilder exceeded these limits and Google asked RouteBuilder to purchase a licence, which they declined to do.

    This is not news.

    • They probably didn't exceed usage, Google tells you to have the client make the requests to their API. Each client, can make something like 2,500 requests per day to the gmaps api at zero cost to the website owner. There are a select few types of applications where that configuration isn't sufficient.

      This is likely due to storage. I'd guess they're storing the lat/lon for too long and that's what's violating their ToS. 10 years could be so much "pilfered" lat/lon data without a business (permissive) license

  • by mt1955 ( 698912 ) <mt1955@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday January 10, 2016 @06:22PM (#51274451) Homepage Journal

    Google has been tilting toward evil ever since Facebook passed it in views back in 2010 and at that moment everything we had done before became no good.

    "You couldn't even beat Facebook"

    It was great a place to work up until that day.

    • Being the best and being the most popular have always proved to be incompatible goals in the long run. Google had been used to being both for too long, and became erratic and increasingly evil when users started getting interested in non-Google stuff.
    • Google has been tilting toward evil ever since Facebook passed it in views back in 2010 and at that moment everything we had done before became no good.

      "You couldn't even beat Facebook"

      It was great a place to work up until that day.

      Seems Google's still a relatively good place to work:
      http://fortune.com/best-compan... [fortune.com] (puts them in first place)
      http://uk.businessinsider.com/... [businessinsider.com] (puts them in second place behind Facebook)

  • by barlevg ( 2111272 ) on Sunday January 10, 2016 @06:51PM (#51274601)
    I was doing a project that used their geocoding API at one point. Essentially you're only allowed to use it if you're planning on making a Google Map. You can't use it for any other purpose. You can't cache the results to save on redundant API calls. Luckily, I found an awesome alternative in OpenCage [opencagedata.com], which is backed by OpenStreetMap data and whose TOS couldn't be less restrictive.
  • The guy doesn't want to open it up, and doesn't have time to convert it to Openstreet Maps (according to posts here), so unless Google makes a concession, maybe the best thing is to clone the concept as something open source? The functionality doesn't sound too hard to imitate?

    I would have suggested the original author open source it, but the FAQ makes it sound like he doesn't really want to.

  • Just a little more evil....everyday!
    Gonna steal you're idea's and never pay
    We're just a little more evil since our founders went away.

  • Wasn't/isn't Google in battle with Oracle over the same thing? And lost too? So if ya cant beat them join them? I might be way wrong here.
    • Wasn't/isn't Google in battle with Oracle over the same thing? And lost too? So if ya cant beat them join them? I might be way wrong here.

      Google/Oracle is about copyright. This is about contracts.

  • I may not reimplement or duplicate your app. I state that my app will be closed in 24 hours after you demonstrate that your app with similar functionality 1) exists, 2) existed before my app (as I believe it's a necessary prerequisite to "reimplement or duplicate") and 3) was accessible for the public so it was possible for me to know beforehand that such app exists. Google Maps does not count since it has no functionality to facilitate the route building.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      ToS violation is just a pretext for shutting down their app expeditiously; they can still shutdown the API access without a literal ToS violation, as it's within Google's discretion, so it probably doesn't really matter.

      The ToS violation is just a way for Google to save face, I guess; if they want to kill the app they'll kill it either way.

  • Disappearing step by step
  • I briefly looked at routebuilder.org and, as far as I can tell, it uses Google Maps itself, not some "wrapped" replacement of it. It just seems to tell you how long some segments are, which appear to all be drawn using the API.

    I admit that I am probably missing something but at first appearance, there isn't anything here which violates Google Maps TOS.

    This makes me wonder if most things that use Google Maps, may be unwittingly and obscurely violating the ToS in some way that only lawyers, but no developer

  • I suppose Bill Cosby is wondering the same thing about this situation.
  • ... TOSser.

  • Hi everyone, Google Product Manager for Maps APIs here. We are not revoking Routebuilder’s access to the Maps API. Unfortunately, we mistakenly sent a letter to Routebuilder saying that they were in violation of the Google Maps API terms of service. This was an error. Once the developer contacted us about this issue, we replied apologizing for the misunderstanding and confirming that we would not be revoking his access to the Maps API. (He contacted us on Friday, we replied on Monday, the blog post wa

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