- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — It seemed like such a great idea: Digitally shrink maps of major subway systems and put them online so people can download them to their IPods for free.

Tens of thousands of people have downloaded maps from www.ipodsubwaymaps.com since Web designer and blogger William Bright, 27, created it in early August.

San Francisco and New York City officials were less enthusiastic.

A lawyer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority sent Mr. Bright a terse “cease and desist” letter in mid-September demanding he immediately remove the New York City subway map from his Web site.

Another letter followed Sept. 21 from the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, instructing Mr. Bright to take down his BART system map.

Both agencies said copyrights they held to the maps barred anyone from repackaging and redistributing them without permission.

Mr. Bright, who by day works for the online magazine Nerve.com, quickly complied with both requests but said he was disappointed.

The only money Mr. Bright said he received for his efforts came from a few advertisements on his site, which he said generated about $1 most days.

“This was supposed to be for fun,” explained Mr. Bright, who signs his blog postings Little Bill and also accepts donations via PayPal.

Mr. Bright said it had taken him just 20 minutes of tinkering to chop up an online version of the MTA’s subway map and shrink it into parts that could be read more easily on the screen of newer IPod models.

Word about IPodSubwayMaps.com spread quickly after Mr. Bright began it. Before long, 50,000 people had downloaded the New York subway map.

The site offers maps for nearly two dozen subway systems including Berlin, Boston, Paris, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Washington.

Might the MTA have overreacted, depriving commuters of something useful?

“That’s the side that everybody loves to take, that big government is going after the little guy,” bristled MTA spokesman Tom Kelly. “But that’s not the case. This isn’t us singling out one person and one entity.”

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