Google Ends Gaia’s World

    November 27, 2006

Opensource three dimensional Earth viewer Gaia received a cease and desist letter from head Google Earth technologist, effectively ending their world.

Michael Jones, the Chief Technologist of Google Earth, maps, and local search, sent 3-D Earth viewer Gaia a cease and desist letter on November 25th requesting that the site no longer change the engineering behind Google Earth.

Gaia was an opensource 3D Earth viewer which made, according to the site, “an attempt to reverse engineer famous Google Earth and implement its functionality in open, portable, customizable and extendable way.”

According to Google Earth’s homepage, the site, “puts a planet’s worth of imagery and other geographic information right on your desktop.”

While customizing and making Google Earth portable for each individual user seems like a valid idea, reversing the engineering of Google Earth is a direct violation of the site’s terms of service, which the original letter posted on Gaia’s site states.

“We appreciate that you like our software and enjoy the many millions of dollars and years of labor that the licensed data represents. Unfortunately, your curiosity about the protected server mechanisms ignores the Google Earth Terms of Service, the software license agreement that you accepted when installing Google Earth, the built-in encryption mechanisms within the client/server protocol, the economic rights of a worldwide network of providers who license this data to Google, and most of all, the sense of fair-play that is the basic relationship between Google and its users worldwide.” – Michael Jones

The cease and desist letter was not sent to Gaia via a lawyer, and no legal action has been taken as Gaia immediately complied with Google’s request.

The Gaia project’s creators also made the statement on the website that, “the project may continue it’s life as open source 3D earth viewer with GPS support, but without support Google Earth imagery. We are sorry.”

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Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.