High Court dismisses Virtual Map’s appeal against copyright infringement

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The High Court has dismissed the appeal by Virtual Map (Singapore) Pte Ltd (VM) against the District Court’s decision that VM had infringed SLA’s copyright in the latter’s street directory maps.

2 As the High Court has upheld the orders made by the District Court, VM is now to comply with the injunction granted by the District Court prohibiting VM from reproducing SLA’s street directory maps, and from distributing or selling reproductions of the maps. VM is also to compensate SLA and pay its legal costs.

3 Between 1999 and 2003, VM entered into non-exclusive licence agreements with SLA to use SLA’s street directory maps and address point data to produce maps. These were then made available on VM’s www.streetdirectory.com.

4 SLA had to terminate the licences granted to VM in July 2004, when the latter asserted that its maps at http://www.streetdirectory.com/ were independently created and were not substantially reproduced from SLA’s maps and data. However, VM continued to use SLA’s maps and data, thereby infringing SLA’s copyright. In the circumstances, SLA had to commence an action against VM in October 2005 for copyright infringement.

5 In August 2007, the District Court decided in SLA’s favour and granted an injunction restraining VM from infringing SLA’s copyright. VM appealed against the District Court’s decision to the High Court.

6 During the hearing of the appeal, SLA was reported to have planted "errors" in its maps to detect copyright infringements. SLA assures the public that these were not errors. Rather, they are “fingerprints” which have been inserted to detect infringers who blindly copy certain identical features in SLA’s maps. These “fingerprints” do not mislead users and do not affect the accuracy and reliability of its maps. They are subtle and minimal, such as the shape of the Fort Gate in Fort Canning Park which is slightly altered in our map from the actual outline on the ground. SLA which creates and updates its maps has a duty and responsibility to ensure that the rights in its works are protected. As with intellectual property rights owners around the world who use various means to protect works, placing “fingerprints” is one way to detect infringement.

7 For more information on SLA maps and licences, the public can contact SLA’s Land Information Centre at 6325 1561. Members of the public may also use SLA's two free map services, "StreetMap@Singapore" and "LandQuery", available at www.map.gov.sg and www.inlis.gov.sg, for personal and non-commercial purposes.


Issued by:
The Singapore Land Authority
25 March 2008


About SLA

Singapore Land Authority (SLA) is a statutory board with the Ministry of Law. Its mission is to optimise land resources for the economic and social development of Singapore. SLA is responsible for the direct management of some 14,000 hectares of State land and about 5,000 buildings. It is also in charge of land sales, leases, acquisitions and allocation, developing and marketing land-related information, and maintaining the national land information database through digitised land information services. SLA is also the national land registration authority for property transactions, and the issuance and guarantee of land titles in Singapore. It also manages and maintains the national land survey system, including the defining of boundaries or legal limits of properties based on a coordinated cadastre survey system. For more information about SLA, visit www.sla.gov.sg.

As the national mapping authority, SLA has the most number of frequently updated data and attributes such as building outlines, carparks and MRT networks. SLA base map now includes more than 4,200 named roads and 120,000 address points and places of interest - buildings, schools, hotels and petrol kiosks. It also has the highest density of road and traffic network and map. SLA also has the most updated and complete set of addresses, postal codes, Points of Interest (POI) search on libraries, police stations, ATMs etc.