Are US Topo maps copyrighted?
Except for the following three cases, US Topo maps have no copyright:
- Most maps in the period 2010-2016 contain commercially licensed road data (see note below).
- Orthoimages in Alaska are commercially licensed.
- Orthoimages in Hawaii are commercially licensed.
The commercial providers for these three sources retain copyright as noted in the map credit note and the attached metadata file.
All other data used in US Topo maps are 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; normal fair-use principles apply.
Roads: 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 in all cases. In November, 2016, we stopped using commercial data, and now use public domain data from U.S. Census Bureau. In the period 2017-2019, public domain road data will replace commercial road data in the set of current maps. A few of the earliest Alaska maps used commercial road data, but since 2014 Alaska maps use public domain data from Alaska DOT, supplemented in some areas with public domain data from other government agencies. Check the credit note in the lower-left corner of the map face to determine if a particular map instance includes copyrighted data. As noted above, maps with copyrighted data may be freely used and distributed provided the copyright notice is retained.
The USGS always appreciates receiving credit whenever our products are used.