Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Google Maps integrates Keyhole satellite images

Google Maps (and Google Local) now have satellite images thanks to the Keyhole acquisition Google made a while back.

With this change, Google Maps now thankfully recognises that there is a world outside North America - at the resolution of the initial world view its now possible to switch to the satellite image view, and scroll anywhere in the world.

Zooming in of the satellite images is possible, as it is for the maps, though not all areas have images available in all resolutions. Of the 15 zoom levels, its possible to view the whole world down 6 levels, below which the system states "We're sorry but we don't have imagery at this zoom level for this region. Try zooming out for a broader look". Mexico and the Northern reaches of Canada can zoom in 12 levels, whilst the USA is covered down all 15 zoom levels as far as I can tell. At the same zoom level, the maps and satellite images are not an exact overlay of the same area.

The images are labelled in the bottom right of the scrolling area as "Imagery © 2005 Digital Globe, EarthSat", and carry a repeated visible watermark at random locations stating "© 2005 Google", which frankly seems overkill (and a bit of a liberty, since the data they are showing at least at the highest zoom level in the USA is clearly the USGS (US Geological Survey) image data. Ironically, by altering the data to add the watermark, they have created an original work - which is copyrightable!)

(The USGS censored the data before making it available in 2003, notably in the Washington DC area - for fun see what Fark.com thought was under the White House blurring earlier this year.)

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