• Track chart copyrights

  • General discussion related to all railroad clubs, museums, tourist and scenic lines. Generally this covers museums with static displays, museums that operate excursions, scenic lines that have museums, and so on. Check out the Tourist Railway Association (TRAIN) for more information.
General discussion related to all railroad clubs, museums, tourist and scenic lines. Generally this covers museums with static displays, museums that operate excursions, scenic lines that have museums, and so on. Check out the Tourist Railway Association (TRAIN) for more information.

Moderators: Miketherailfan, rob216

  by RedLantern
 
I have a fairy extensive collection of milepost track charts that I've acquired from buying CDs full of them at shows as well as various websites. Does anybody know the copyright details on historic charts, like if they're considered public record by the FRA or if they would fall under the company that currently owns the lines or something like that? These are digital copies of photocopies of blueprints, I don't have any of the original prints.

The reason I ask is because I would love to create a website and put up these charts, I'm also working on creating detailed milepost listings based off the data on the charts, and I want to make sure that data isn't already copyrighted. I see there's plenty of people selling copies of the charts, advertising all over the web as well as railroad enthusiast and model magazines but I've always wondered if they actually have the right to sell them or if they had to pay royalties.
  by RedLantern
 
Basically what I want to know is how likely I am to be sued if I create a free website with comprehensive milepost data on both active and abandoned lines, any insight?
  by frank754
 
I don't think there are any restrictions if it's public knowledge and could be gathered by observation, just if it's reprinted from copyrighted material verbatim, such as somebody's book. I'm not sure even if timetables are copyrighted or in the public domain, including employee timetables. Probably not copyrighted. Also, there are hundreds of railfans, myself included who have scanned timetables both old and new, as well as Official Guide pages and posted them on their websites, and have never gotten into any trouble.
  by xenonman
 
I've seen various RR track charts made available at other web sites, so I don't think that copyright should be an issue.
I'd love to see you create a website which would have some of the track chart material from your collection uploaded!

Best,
Mike G.
  by The EGE
 
I can give you a couple absolute rules. Anything first published before January 1, 1923 is considered to be public domain; the copyright is null and void. Anything made by a federal employee (including FRA) during their duties is also public domain.