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On Tuesday afternoon, Jake Berman got an email from Etsy allegorical him that one of his listings had been removed from its website for absorb infringement. Berman makes his own versions of alteration maps, which he anxiously designs over hundreds of hours of work.

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But his New York City alms map, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority attorneys who filed a appraisal appeal beneath the Agenda Millennium Absorb Act, was a abuse of the MTA’s absorb for its own alms map. Berman, they contended, could not advertise his version.

When he got the notice, Berman acquainted “a little bit of abhorrence and a little bit of disbelief,” he told Motherboard in an interview, because “it requires a assertive bulk of adventurousness on the allotment of their attorneys to say that commodity that somebody abroad created is absolutely the MTA’s property.”

Indeed, experts are puzzled by the MTA’s absorb claim. For one, Berman’s map is acutely not a archetype of the MTA’s alms map. But alike if it was, it’s analytical the MTA, which has an operating account of $16.6 billion for this year alone, would affair itself with the piddling revenues absent from one alms map awash on Etsy.

“The basal catechism [for the MTA]” offered Thomas Kjellberg, an bookish acreage advocate with the law close Cowan, Liebowitz, and Latman, “you guys absolutely accord a shit?”

In a statement, MTA agent Shams Tarek said the bureau reviews abeyant absorb contravention issues on a case-by-case basis. He added Berman’s map has “been affected from our bookish acreage which we accept an obligation to assure on account of the bodies of New York.”

Arguing over the bookish acreage of maps is as old as America itself. For about as connected as this country has existed, maps accept been copyrighted by their makers. The Absorb Act of 1790 covered “any map, chart, book or books already printed aural these United States…” afore abacus a accomplished agglomeration of conditions.

What is not adequate assignment beneath absorb law, Kjellberg said, are facts. For example, the MTA cannot absorb the actuality that there is a alteration base at Union Square and that the 4,5,6,N,Q,R,W and L curve stop there. Nor can it absorb the accepted area of a stop aback advised on a map, the administration in which it runs, geographic entities like the island of Manhattan, or the names of streets.

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8 Best Tattoo Artists In New York – Tattoo Ideas, Artists .. | popular nyc artists

What they can absorb is what Kjellberg termed as “the announcement of facts.” In added words, do they attending the same? Does one absorb the architecture elements of the other? Or are there “substantial differences?”

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Berman created this accurate adaptation of the alms map after—what else?—a arresting acquaintance with the subway. He had aloof confused to New York and was cat-and-mouse on the belvedere on a weekend for the B alternation for bisected an hour. This was how Berman abstruse the B abandoned runs on weekdays. So he absitively to accomplish a alms map of his own, one that, amid added things, acutely apparent which trains do not run on backward nights or weekends.

After added than 300 hours of assignment and 15 or 20 altered iterations, Berman accomplished the map and aggregate it online for others who ability acquisition it useful. But he didn’t advertise it until about a year and a bisected ago, aback he noticed, in what is now about too ironic, that addition abroad had copied-and-pasted his map and was affairs it on Etsy.

“I said if this guy is authoritative money affairs my map,” Berman recalled, “then so should I.”

The map didn’t accomplish abundant acquirement for him, but it fabricated abundant to buy accompany beers every already in a while and accord him a actual faculty of accomplishment. His map is now the aboriginal displayed on the New York City Alms Map Wikipedia page, appropriate abutting to the official map. Berman said it acquainted acceptable to actualize commodity bodies liked.

The MTA didn’t see it that way.

Lester Freundlich, an advocate for the MTA, told Berman in an email Wednesday that his alms map was “clearly a acquired assignment of MTA’s accepted adaptation of the Vignelli alms map.”

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Graffiti painted by the most famous NYC artists. – Picture .. | popular nyc artists

The Vignelli map is not the one you see bashed in stations and on trains. It was created in 1972, but was bound replaced because riders hated it so much. Abandoned seven years later, the MTA confused on to a absolutely altered map, a aberration of which is still acclimated today. The Vignelli map was abundantly annexed to alteration map history until 2011, aback the MTA brought it aback from the dead.

The MTA uses the Vignelli map for The Weekender, a quasi-neglected agenda alternate map that helps riders cross weekend account changes (other than the account account changes, the app has almost been adapted aback the day it was launched and has a 1.4 appraisement in the App Store). In added words, the MTA adored the Vignelli for the actual aforementioned acumen Berman created his map.

“Yes, there are accessory differences amid your map and the MTA map,” Freundlich wrote in his email. “But accustomed your admission to the MTA map on the MTA website, and the abundant similarities of your map to the MTA map, the abandoned rational cessation is that your map is based on the MTA Vignelli map.”

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But there is a potentially analytical blemish in that logic. The MTA created The Weekender in 2011, two years afterwards Berman created his map, which he uploaded to Wikipedia in 2009.

Even so, Berman thinks his map stands abandoned on its merits. “Even bold that I had a time machine,” he wrote via email, “they’re not the aforementioned thing.”

To prove his case, Berman listed eight differences amid his map and Vignelli’s. For example, they affectation curve active alternating the aforementioned avenue differently. Berman uses altered symbols for trains that abandoned stop on nights and weekends. Vignelli uses “gentle curves” admitting Berman uses “hard angles.” Berman shows streets and labels neighborhoods. They use altered colors and shapes for geographic landmarks. He went on, and added that he could accept connected to go on for abundant longer.

“In general, the abandoned above similarities are that both are alms maps and both use 45-degree angles in our diagrams, which has been accepted alteration map convenance aback 1933,” Berman asserted. “It’s absolutely not copyrightable.”

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For his part, Kjellberg looked aback and alternating at the two maps while on the buzz afore absolute Berman would accept “a appealing acceptable altercation that he doesn’t borrow on absorb because there are some actual abundant differences,” but added it’s “not a bang dunk.”

The MTA abandoned beatific a appraisal apprehension to Etsy, apathy to acquaintance Berman anon about the boutique he runs area the map is additionally available. The map is still on auction there for $50. The MTA beneath to animadversion on why it abandoned issued a appraisal apprehension for Etsy.

Other than Berman’s map, there are currently 271 added after-effects on Etsy for New York City alms maps, not to acknowledgment the array of added absolute mapmakers who advertise their own versions on claimed websites.

As for what happens now, Berman responded to the MTA’s appraisal apprehension with a adverse apprehension of his own, as acceptable beneath the Agenda Millennium Absorb Act. Kjellberg explained the MTA has 10 business canicule to sue in federal court, or abroad Etsy is accurately answerable to put the map aback up for sale.

For all the appraisal notices the MTA sends out, it actual rarely sues. Out of curiosity, Kjellberg performed a chase in a Bloomberg database of federal lawsuits area the MTA is a plaintiff to see if they get belligerent aback it comes to absorb claims. He said the MTA has never sued anyone for absorb contravention as far aback as the database went, which included cases aback 1992. That doesn’t absolutely comport with what the MTA told the New York Times in 2013, aback it said it has gone to cloister in a absorb case “only once…to claiming a cafeteria alleged F Line Bagels in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, in 2005. The assurance out advanced now reads aloof Line Bagels.”

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That commodity additionally claimed the MTA accustomed $500,000 a year in licensing revenue, a whopping .003 percent of the agency’s 2013 revenue. In fact, two Connected Island Railroad foreman—an bureau aural the MTA—made added than that in overtime pay.

The MTA may accept anticipation it could alarm off one absolute artisan from affairs a alms map on a accepted platform, but it may accept miscalculated. In yet addition acrid twist, the MTA best the amiss artist. He has a day job.

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8 Legendary New York Graffiti Artists | Widewalls – popular nyc artists | popular nyc artists

“I’m an advocate by trade,” he said. “So this is commodity I apperceive commodity about.”

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