Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Leave the maps to the professionals

Via Paul Kafasis, here’s the remarkable story of a man who made a basic site planning website for homeowners who are working on simple renovation projects. (Most cities and counties don’t require surveyor maps for doing basic work.)

According to the California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, Ryan Crownholm is guilty of depicting “the location of property lines, fixed works, and the geographical relationship thereto,” which under California law is illegal unless you spend six years as a full-time land surveyor, pass four exams, and pay a fee. He’s been fined $1000 and told to take his site down, but is fighting the fine in federal court:

“As our complaint explains, it’s been long recognized that a literal interpretation of surveying practice statutes would make a lot of common everyday things illegal without a license: GIS data, the many uses now of things like Google Maps,” said Paul Avelar, the lawyer representing Crownholm and managing attorney at the Institute for Justice Arizona Office. 

That’s right—one hilarious interpretation of this law is that it’s illegal to draw a map in California if you’re not a professional surveyor. Bad news for Apple and Google Maps, I guess.

—Linked by Jason Snell

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