The rules for attribution
Google Maps are truly wonderful resources and many genealogists (and others!) use them all the time — in articles, on websites, in presentations and more.
And that led reader David Mills to ask: “How is the attribution worded for using Google images from Google Maps and used on a web site and is there a particular place it should be positioned?”
So… what if we want to use this map showing the location of the Empire State Building in New York City from Google Maps?
It then has a Google Maps/Google Earth Additional Terms of Service page that provides, again among other things, that “Google grants you a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use Google Maps/Google Earth, including features that allow you to: (a.) view and annotate maps; … (and c.) publicly display Content with proper attribution online, in video, and in print…”5
So if we have a license — legalese for permission — to use these maps online, in print and elsewhere “with proper attribution,” how do we know what “proper attribution” is required?
All uses of the content must provide attribution to both Google and our data providers. We require clear, visible attribution when the content is shown. You may not move the attribution to the end credits or fade it out after a few seconds.
Note that if you (a) embed a classic map, Street View panorama, or My Map; (b) use one of our APIs on the web or in an application; or (c) use Google Earth Pro, or Earth Studio on desktop; then the necessary attribution is already baked into the map and no further credit is needed.
Baked in? Yup. Note this particular part of the map, with one arrow pointing to the Google logo and the second to the copyright statement:
Now that’s awfully small in this screen capture, since blog post images generally aren’t enormous. And Google does have yet another page of help and guidance where it says that the text needs to be legible to the average reader or viewer.7
Which is why this blog post has that one more line you’ll see below, under the word Sources. It reads: “Image: Empire State Building, New York City; Map data ©2019 Google (https://www.google.com/maps/ : accessed 9 Sep 2019).”
So have at it, David — we’re free to use Google maps as long as we properly attribute them.
Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Citing Google Maps,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 9 Sep 2019).
Image: Empire State Building, New York City; Map data ©2019 Google (https://www.google.com/maps/ : accessed 9 Sep 2019).
- See “Ethics and Standards : Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS),” Board for Certification of Genealogists (https://bcgcertification.org/ : accessed 9 Sep 2019). ↩
- “Terms of Service,” Google Privacy and Terms, Google.com (https://policies.google.com/ : accessed 9 Sep 2019). ↩
- “Google Maps/Google Earth Additional Terms of Service,” Google.com (https://www.google.com/ : accessed 9 Sep 2019). ↩
- “Permissions : Google Maps & Google Earth,” Google.com (https://www.google.com/ : accessed 9 Sep 2019). ↩
- “Permissions : Google Maps & Google Earth : Attribution Guidelines,” Google.com (https://www.google.com/ : accessed 9 Sep 2019). ↩