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Powered by Google™ .vs. IGN lawsuit
Posted: 26 March 2008 02:16 PM  
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2006-02-21


In a few words, I’m a webmaster of, and I need your help.

Now, with the story:

Maybe you know of, a website listing mountains huts and lodges in the Alps.
It is primarly useful for planning skiing/hiking trips on multiple days.

Three years ago, the IGN (Institut Geographique National, french agency like the Ordnance Survey for UK) made a joint lawsuit with another company and sued the website host for copyright issues about maps extracts.

As of february, the judicial appeals came to an end. The site-hosting company has been sentenced to a 16,000 euros fine.

As the webmaster of the website, I decided to participate for half the amount myself. The website host is a friend of mine who could difficultly sustain such an expense.

If you already knew about this website, and you found it useful, it would be very kind of you to help us, now that we are in trouble.
For the complete story (in french):
To make a donation (also in french):

The facts are undoubtables; I have pirated IGN maps to put some extract on the website and never hide it.  But I always denied the amount of the prejudice. I recall davidoff participating to the website years ago, when the topo maps were still online, and I’m sure he doesn’t recall that as a piratery thing.

Thanks for the number one serious european ski/mountaineering source.

Posted: 26 March 2008 03:51 PM   [ # 1 ]  
Total Posts:  2234
Joined  2003-10-24


Here are the live links:

and for donations

What can I say? I was shocked at the fine when it happened, at least the size of it and I’m sorry you were not able to get it reduced to a more sensible level on appeal. I assume Bayo is a participant. They are very aggressive legally speaking. At the same time I’m not criticizing anyone protecting their intellectual property.

There has recently been some EU directive on copyright issues which French courts have taken on board and it is going to make these cases even more expensive in the future. What is interesting is that the IGN will shortly be providing their maps for websites for free via Geoportail. Surely this makes a mockery of the 16,000 euros?

I’m not sure why the website hosting company was prosecuted, surely they have common carrier status like a phone company? This could set a very interesting legal precedent for other web hosts?

Posted: 27 March 2008 12:58 PM   [ # 2 ]  
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2006-02-21

website hosting companies claim to have just a “carrier” status, denying any responsability on contents published, but the law is still unclear on that matter. there are cases where the hosting was fined, other where it was freed of charge. Last case is the most common.
Indeed, cases are usually sued on them because it is much more profitable if proven guilty. Courts have been rather clement with individuals so far about copyright matters.
I think that’s why they sued the company instead of me.
also the hosting company manager is a friend of mine, and admitted the knowledge of the existence of the topo maps. and IGN/Bayo “capitalize” on that breach.

Unfortunatly for us, we were not defended at the first court, by that time, we thought the case was pretty much self-explanatory, and we were counting on common sense. The judge didn’t saw it this way and agreed most of the attackers pretentions.
During the appeal, sadly 2 of the 3 judges seemed asleep during our (good) advocacy, and I doubt they knew what they were judging. Common behavior when they don’t understand is conforting the first judgement. That’s what they done.

As for Geoportail, it provides the maps for free for 2 years now. and they will release an API soon. looks like anachronism.

As you said, IGN has a reputation of aggressive behavior when it comes to copyright. For example, they shut down the very good map and topo editor “Didier Richard” for distortion of the base maps. I’m sure you remenber the quality of those 1:50000 maps, and the value added compared to plain IGN ones. In fact, the company still exists but now issue bad quality, unreliable maps.
They also managed to charge a programmer a huge fine he is still paying years later. he made an alternative program to read Bayo cdroms.
It is interesting to note that to make a successful lawsuit, they never warn their prey beforehand.

Since I have opened the donation system, I am totally amazed of the kindness and generosity of people. Some individuals are sending big money, encouraging messages ... What is sad is that the donors often are the people who participate the most to the website. The very same ones that should be thanked for their commitment to the community are now paying for a fault they did not did.