gaia [ru|en]

gaia - opensource 3D interface to the planet

Meet gaia, open 3D earth viewer (formerly an attempt to reverse engineer famous Google Earth).

I've removed Google support, but the development continues. Here's project page on sourceforge. Cleaned up code was already checked into SVN. The first source package release will follow right after I finish new improved disk cache. Please stay with gaia :)

History

25 November 2006, I've got the letter from Michael Jones, the Chief Technologist of Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Local search, requesting to cease reverse engineering and improper usage of licensed data that Google Earth use. I understand and respect Google's position on the case, so I've removed all downloads from this page and we ask everybody who have ever downloaded gaia 0.1.0 and prior versions to delete all files concerned with the project, which include source code, binary files and image cache (~/.gaia).

Please note, that I did it on my own will, not being treated or something. Please do not consider me a victim. Michael explained the possible outcome of my work pretty good.
In short:
Data does not belong to Google, it is licensed under certain conditions, which include unability for third parties to access raw data. Be those conditions continuously broken, Google will no longer be permitted to use the data, so not just no more Gaia, but no more Google Earth. That's absolutely not what I want, not I hope any of you want.

As I understand, for now the only possible way to have an open source Google Earth client is to convince data providers to loosen license restrictions. Any volunteers to contact them?

Original letter from Michael Jones:

From: "Michael Jones"
Subject: Writing from Google about Gaia and Google Earth

Hello,

I am Michael Jones, the Chief Technologist of Google Earth, Google Maps, and
Google Local search writing to the author(s) of the Gaia project (
http://gaia.serezhkin.com/) with an urgent concern. We have now become aware
of your efforts and are concerned that you may not understand the developing
global social impact of your engineering creativity.

The data that we license for Google Earth and Google Maps is made available
for use under the restriction that it not be accessed or used outside of
Google's client software. These products -- Earth, Maps, and Mobile Maps --
each have a data protection mechanism tailored to their environment. They
also all come with a clearly indicated end user license agreement, known as
the Terms of Service, which means "these are the conditions under which we
are providing access to valuable data through our client software for your
use." In all three cases, the ToS are very clear that the data services used
by the client software must never be accessed directly and that the
encryption, passkey, and other data protection mechanisms must not be
circumvented.

We appreciate that you like our software and enjoy the many millions of
dollars and years of labor that the licensed data represents. Unfortunately,
your curiosity about the protected server mechanisms ignores the Google
Earth Terms of Service, the software license agreement that you accepted
when installing Google Earth, the built-in encryption mechanisms within the
client/server protocol, the economic rights of a worldwide network of
providers who license this data to Google, and most of all, the sense of
fair-play that is the basic relationship between Google and its users
worldwide.

The kindness through which Google has made the wonder of our planet
available to more than 100 million users around the world is now threatened
-- not by a menacing and fierce business competitor -- but by you. Please
hear the seriousness in this statement. I am not an attorney. I am not
posturing. Just the opposite. We on the engineering team are hopeful that
despite the risk your actions (break the ToS, reverse engineer parts of the
data protection mechanisms, publish the fact and code, encourage others)
pose to our product, team, company, and users, we remain hopeful that this
was an unintended result of what started as intellectual curiosity by a
smart engineer like ourselves who has a passion to learn how things work.

Are we right?

If so, we really need to have you take down that code and refocus your work
toward building an open earth viewer that uses open earth images (such as
from NASA) or licensed earth images from willing providers rather than
having the basis of your project being the improper use of our images. If
you understand the gravity of the situation and agree to respect or position
in this, please let me know quickly (hours rather than days) and on an
equally responsive time scale please modify your project pages to remove
anything suggesting or teaching the improper access to our data servers.

Anxious to hear from you,
Michael

-- 
Michael T. Jones, Chief Technologist, Google Earth, Maps, Local
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043
Email: xxxxxx@google.com  T:(XXX)XXX-XXXX  M:(XXX)XXX-XXXX F:(XXX)XXX-XXXX
Explore Google Earth!  Site: earth.google.com  Community: bbs.keyhole.com

Second letter from Michael, with more explanations:

From: "Michael Jones"
Subject: Writing from Google about Gaia and Google Earth

Hi there!

First, thank you for changing your website.

[skip]

Yes, it is fine to put the whole letter (or the present subset) there on
your website if that is what you would like to do.

[skip]

> Speaking of gaia, is there absolutely no possibility for it to exist as
> Google Earth client? I'll do my best to fulfill any possible (for GPL
> software) demands (like adding Google logo, name of data source, etc.) to
> let gaia exist as legal open source Google Earth client. I've got really
> many thankful letters from users of OS'es there is no Google Earth for
> (OpenBSD, MorphOS, FreeBSD, some handheld users who enjoyed flat mode
> (which is somewhat more usable than 3D when no hardware OpenGL
> acceleration), people who said GPS didn't work in Linux version of GE).
> It's really painful to let all those people down. It's a shame it turned
> out like this...

We have in the past and continue to license very expensive data to make
Google Earth and Google Maps products. The terms of the license that we
signed include a promise by us to prevent anyone from accessing the data
other than through Google software. Violations of this promise (such as Gaia
source out in the world) not only cost us money and force the disruption by
forced upgrade of 100M+ users as we change protocols, they actually put our
entire operation at risk since the data providers loose trust that their
data, which they sell directly, is out there for free and could put them out
of business. Please understand that the Digital Globe satellite cost about
$500M so the data is *very* expensive. We are like an iPod for Earth images.
If people could get the music out to play on other platforms then the music
companies would not allow Apple access to the music in the first place. This
is the situation.

[skip]

Regards,
Michael

-- 
Michael T. Jones, Chief Technologist, Google Earth, Maps, Local
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043
Email: xxxxxx@google.com  T:(XXX)XXX-XXXX  M:(XXX)XXX-XXXX F:(XXX)XXX-XXXX
Explore Google Earth!  Site: earth.google.com  Community: bbs.keyhole.com

Feedback

Mail all your suggestions, comments and pathes to gaia-at-serezhkin-dot-com.