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Are US Topo maps copyrighted?

Except for the following three cases, US Topo maps have no copyright:

1. Most maps contain commercially licensed road data (but see notes below).

2. The orthoimage layers for maps in Alaska are commercially licensed data.

3. The orthoimage layers for maps in Hawaii are commercially licensed data.

The commercial providers for these three sources retain copyright as noted in the map credit note and the attached metadata file. 

Everything else in US Topo maps is public domain. US Topo maps, even those that include commercial data, may be reproduced freely and used for any purpose, provided copyright notices for the three cases listed above are retained. Images derived from the maps may be used in reports and publications if these three sources are appropriately credited.

The situation with road copyright is complicated, and as of early 2016 is becoming more so. From 2010 through 2015 all US Topo maps in the 48 conterminous states, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico used commercially licensed road data...except in National Forests, where public domain data from U.S. Forest Service was used. Beginning in November, 2016, areas that previously used commercial data now use public domain data from U.S. Census Bureau. Over the next three years (2016-17-18), the number of maps in the set of "current maps" that use public domain road data will steadily increase. Check the credit note and metadata file to determine if a particular map instance includes copyrighted data or not.

The USGS always appreciates receiving credit whenever our products are used.

Tags: Maps, Topographic, Recreation, Quadrangle, GeoPDF, Scale