Terms of Service

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Welcome to MapStory.org (“MapStory” or the “Site”), an online site that allows a global user community to organize its knowledge about the world spatially and temporally. MapStory is supported by the MapStory Foundation (the “Foundation”), a 501(c)3 educational non-profit organization based in Alexandria, VA, USA.

In order to use MapStory, you (the “User”) must read, accept and abide by the terms of this agreement (“Terms”) as well as the related Privacy Policy, License and Copyright, Trademark Terms of Use, and Community Ethics for MapStory.


These Terms of Use tell you about our public services at the MapStory Foundation. We at the Foundation are responsible for the care and feeding of MapStory.org, and related projects, but it is our volunteer user community that takes primary responsibility for upholding the quality and comprehensiveness of content found at MapStory.org, our primary project, and any others that might emerge. Generally we do not contribute, monitor, or delete content (with the rare exception of policies like these Terms of Use, our Privacy Policy or legal compliance for DMCA notices). This means that editorial control is in the hands of you and your fellow users who create and manage the content. We merely host this content.

Please be aware that you are legally responsible for all of your contributions, edits, and re-use of MapStory content under the laws of the United States of America and other applicable laws (which may include the laws where you live or where you view or edit content). This means it is important that you use caution when posting content. Please keep in mind that the content we host is for general informational purposes only, so if you need expert advice for a particular question (such as medical, legal, or financial issues), you should seek the help of a licensed or qualified professional. We also include other important notices and disclaimers, so please read these Terms of Use in their entirety.

For clarity, other organizations, such as local MapStory chapters and associations, that may share in the same mission are nevertheless legally independent and separate from the MapStory Foundation and have no responsibility for the operations of the website or its content.

Our mission is to empower a global community to show the world how it has changed over time and inspire MapStorytelling as as a means of communicating important issues to a global audience. Through the use of “StoryLayers” and “MapStories,” users of the Site may aid in accumulating and improving the global body of knowledge about global dynamics, worldwide, over the course of history (the “Services”).


ACCESS TO THE SERVICES. Subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, the Foundation provides the Services, as described more fully on the Site, and which are selected by you, solely for your own use, and not for the use or benefit of any third party. Services shall include, but not be limited to, any services the Foundation performs for you, as well as the hosting of web services that enable users to display information (including, but not limited to text, graphics, maps, photographs, images, illustrations, databases - collectively known as the "Content") on the Site.

The Site is a work in progress, constantly evolving and improving with new functionalities and features. The Foundation may change, suspend or discontinue the Services for any reason, at any time, including the availability of any feature or Content. The Foundation may also impose limits on certain features and Services or restrict your access to parts or all of the Services without notice or liability. The Foundation reserves the right, at its discretion, to modify this Agreement at any time by posting a notice on Blog.MapStory.org, the Site, or by sending you a notice via e-mail. You shall be responsible for reviewing and becoming familiar with any such modifications. Your use of the Services following such notification constitutes your acceptance of the terms and conditions of this Agreement as modified.


You certify to the Foundation that you are an individual (i.e., not a corporation, bot or machine) and that you are at least 13 years of age. You also certify that you are legally permitted to use the Services and access the Site, and take full responsibility for the selection and use of the Services and access of the Site. The Site and the Services are sustained and facilitated by the Foundation from its offices within the State of Virginia. The Foundation makes no representation that materials on the Site or through the Services are appropriate or available for use in other locations. Those who choose to access or use the Services from other locations, including from outside the United States of America, do so on their own initiative and are responsible for compliance with local laws, if and to the extent local laws are applicable. Access to the Services from jurisdictions where the contents or practices of the Services are illegal, unauthorized or penalized is strictly prohibited. This Agreement is void where prohibited by law, and the right to access the Site is revoked in such jurisdictions.


The Foundation will use reasonable efforts to ensure that the Site and Services are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. However, there will be occasions when the Site and/or Services will be interrupted for maintenance, upgrades and emergency repairs or due to failure of telecommunications links and equipment. Every reasonable step will be taken by the Foundation to minimize such disruption where it is within the Foundation’s reasonable control. YOU AGREE THAT NEITHER THE FOUNDATION NOR THE SITE WILL BE LIABLE IN ANY EVENT TO YOU OR ANY OTHER PARTY FOR ANY SUSPENSION, MODIFICATION, DISCONTINUANCE OR LACK OF AVAILABILITY OF THE SITE, THE SERVICES, YOUR ACCOUNT OR OTHER CONTENT.


Users may create two types of accounts on MapStory: (1) Individual Accounts and (2) Organization Accounts.

Individual Accounts must be maintained only by the Individual assigned to the Individual Account.

Organization Accounts must be created and moderated by at least one Individual Account holder. Unless otherwise specified in any customized Service Agreement, Organization Accounts are governed by the same Terms as Individual Accounts.

Violations of these Terms of Service can lead to your account being suspended or revoked.


As a condition to using certain Services, you may be required to register with the Site and select a password and username. You shall provide the Site with accurate, complete, and updated registration information. Failure to do so shall constitute a breach of this Agreement, which may result in immediate termination of your account. You may not (i) select or use as your username the name of another person with the intent to impersonate that person; or (ii) use as your username a name subject to any rights of a person other than you without appropriate authorization. The Foundation reserves the right to refuse registration of, or cancel an account and any data connected to that account, in its discretion. You shall be responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your Site password.


You are responsible for all of your activity in connection with the Services and accessing the Site. You may not post or transmit, or cause to be posted or transmitted, any communication or solicitation designed or intended to obtain password, account or private information from any MapStory user. You shall not use any part of the Site or Services to violate the security of any computer network, crack passwords or security encryption codes, transfer or store material that is deemed threatening or obscene or engage in any kind of illegal activity.


The Foundation has no special relationship with or fiduciary duty to you. You acknowledge that the Foundation has no control over, and no duty to take any action regarding: which users gain access to the Site; what Content you access via the Site; what effects the Content may have on you; how you may interpret or use the Content; or what actions you may take as a result of having been exposed to the Content. You release the Foundation from all liability for your having acquired or not acquired Content through the Site. The Site may contain, or direct you to sites containing, information that some people may find offensive or inappropriate. The Foundation makes no representations concerning any Content contained in or accessed through the Site, and the Foundation will not be responsible or liable for the accuracy, copyright compliance, legality or decency of material contained in or accessed through the Site. THE SERVICES, CONTENT, SITE AND ANY SOFTWARE ARE PROVIDED ON AN "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR NON-INFRINGEMENT.



As a general principle, the access to, and retention of, personally identifiable data in all projects should be minimal and should be used only internally to serve the well-being of the projects. However, we do occasionally encounter situations in which we must share personally identifiable data to comply with the law or to protect the rights, property or safety of the MapStory Foundation, its users or the general public. Therefore, you hereby irrevocably authorize the Foundation to disclose your personally identifiable information at the request of any state or federal agency or in response to any judicial process (including, without limitation, a subpoena). Please review our Privacy Policy, which governs the use of personal information on the Site and to which you agree to be bound as a user of the Site.


You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, employees, partners, licensors and content partners harmless from any dispute that may arise from a breach of terms of this Agreement. You agree to hold the Foundation harmless from any claims and expenses, including reasonable attorney's fees and court costs, related to your violation of this Agreement. 

You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, employees, partners, licensors and content partners harmless from any claim or demand, including reasonable attorneys' fees, made by any third party due to or arising out of your use of, or submission to, the Site, breach of this Agreement or your violation of any law or the rights of a third party.


The failure of either party to exercise in any respect any right provided for herein shall not be deemed a waiver of any further rights hereunder. The Foundation shall not be liable for any failure to perform its obligations hereunder where such failure results from any cause beyond the Foundation’s reasonable control, including, without limitation, mechanical, electronic or communications failure or degradation. If any provision of this Agreement is found to be unenforceable or invalid, that provision shall be limited or eliminated to the minimum extent necessary so that this Agreement shall otherwise remain in full force and effect and enforceable.


MapStory is facilitated by the Foundation from its offices in Alexandria, Virginia. As the Site can be accessed from all fifty states and other countries around the world and each of these places has laws that may differ from those of Virginia, by accessing this website both you and the Foundation agree that the statutes and laws of the State of Virginia, without regard to the conflicts of laws principles thereof, will apply to all matters relating to use of this website. The Foundation makes no representation that materials on the Site are appropriate or available for use in other locations, and accessing them from territories where the contents are illegal is prohibited. Those who choose to access this site from other locations do so on their own initiative and are responsible for compliance with all applicable laws


The Terms of Service, including all documents referenced herein (including the Privacy Policy, License and Copyright,Trademark Terms of Use, and Community Ethics), represents the entire understanding between the User and the Foundation regarding the User's relationship with the Foundation and supersedes any prior statements or representations. "Including" means "including, without limitation." This Agreement is not assignable, transferable or sublicensable by you except with the Foundation’s prior written consent. The Foundation may transfer, assign or delegate this Agreement and its rights and obligations without consent. No agency, partnership, joint venture, or employment is created as a result of this Agreement and you do not have any authority of any kind to bind the Foundation in any respect whatsoever.

Any notice to the Site that is required or permitted by this Agreement shall be in writing and shall be deemed effective upon receipt, when sent by confirmed e-mail to [info@mapstory.com] or when delivered in person by nationally recognized overnight courier or mailed by first class, registered or certified mail, postage prepaid, to: PO Box.


At the core of MapStory are Open Geospatial Consortium compliant web services (WMS, WMTS, WFS-T, WCS, and CS-W). These APIs will become available for registered MapStory users. While the API Usage Policy is a work in progress, the MapStory Foundation reserves the right to filter API usage. As the core services are funded by the MapStory community, those using a disproportionate volume of service are subject to filtering. More complete terms of service will be provided at a later date. Any questions regarding this by interested parties should be directed to info@mapstory.org.

MapStory is open data. In committing your StoryLayers and MapStories to www.mapstory.org, you are assigning your data and graphical representations to the global data commons under two licenses, respectively. The Open Database License(ODbL) from Open Data Commons (ODC), is used for the underlying data sets committed to MapStory. The Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (CC BY-SA) is used for graphical representations of this data. This can include out of copyright information, public domain or other licenses. All contributors must register with the project and agree to provide data and graphical representations on an Open Data License (ODbL) and a Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 license, respectively. Or, user must determine that the licensing of the source data is suitable; this may involve examining licenses for government data to establish whether they are compatible.

You are free to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt our maps and data, as long as you credit MapStory and its contributors. If you alter or build upon our maps or data, you may distribute the result only under the same license. The full Creative Commons legal code and Open Database License explains your rights and responsibilities.


If you are using MapStory map images, we request that your credit reads “© MapStory contributors, CC BY-SA”. If you are using map data only, we request “Data © MapStory contributors, ODbL”.

Where possible, MapStories should be hyperlinked to http://www.mapstory.org/ and cite the CC BY-SA license. If you are using a medium where links are not possible (e.g. a printed work), we suggest you direct your readers to [www.mapstory.org], run by the 'The MapStory Foundation’, and cite the CC BY-SA license.

Our CC BY-SA license requires you to “give the Original Author credit reasonable to the medium or means you are utilizing”. Individual MapStory contributors do not request a credit over and above that to “MapStory contributors”, but as MapStory is a high-attribution environment, it may be reasonable to credit them by directly reproducing their credit or by linking to it on this page. We encourage you to also link to specific StoryLayer or MapStory pages, so that individual MapStorytellers get direct credit, rather than just being an nameless 'MapStory contributor'.

Inclusion of data in MapStory does not imply that the original data provider endorses MapStory, provides any warranty, or accepts any liability.


The Foundation abides by the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by responding to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable laws. As part of our response, the Foundation will act expeditiously to remove or disable access to material on this web site that is claimed to be infringing.

The Foundation does not control content hosted on third party websites, and cannot remove content from sites it does not own or control. If you are the copyright owner of content hosted on a third party site, and you have not authorized the use of your content, please contact the administrator of that website directly to have the content removed.

Before serving either a Notice of Infringing Material or Counter-Notification, you may wish to contact a lawyer to better understand your rights and obligations under the DMCA and other applicable laws. The following notice requirements are intended to comply with the Foundation’s rights and obligations under the DMCA and, in particular, sections 512(c) and (d), and do not constitute legal advice. Please consult your legal counsel to confirm these requirements.

Notice of Infringing Material

To file a notice of infringing material on a site owned or controlled by the Foundation, please provide a written notification containing the following details:

1. Reasonably sufficient detail to enable us to identify the work claimed to be infringed or, if multiple works are claimed to be infringed, a representative list of such works (for example: title, author, any registration or tracking number, URL);

2. Reasonably sufficient detail to enable us to identify and locate the material that is claimed to be infringing (preferably a link to the page that contains the material, providing URLs in the body of an email is the best way to help MapStory locate content quickly);

3. Your contact information so that the Foundation can contact you (for example, your address, telephone number, email address);

4. A statement that you have a good faith belief that the use of the material identified in (2) is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;

5. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate and, under penalty of perjury, that you are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive right that is alleged to be infringed.

6. Your physical or electronic signature.

Then send this notice to: info@mapstory.org

Please note that under Section 512(f) any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity is infringing may be subject to liability for damages. Do not make false claims!


If material that you have posted to a site sustained by the Foundation has been taken down, you may file a counter-notification that contains the following details:

1. Identification of the material that has been removed or to which access has been disabled and the location at which the material appeared before it was removed or disabled;

2. A statement, under penalty of perjury, that you have a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material in question;

3. Your name, address and telephone number;

4. A statement that you consent to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for judicial district in which your address is located or, if your address is outside of the USA, for any judicial district in which the Foundation may be found and that you will accept service of process from the person who submitted a notice in compliance with the section (c)(1)(C) of the DMCA, as generally described above;

5. Your physical or electronic signature.

Then send this notice to: info@mapstory.org

Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability. Please also be advised that the Foundation enforces a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers who are repeat infringers.


Read more about using our data at the Legal FAQ, which is a work in progress.

MapStory contributors are reminded never to add data from any copyrighted sources (e.g. Google Maps or printed maps) without explicit permission from the copyright holders.