Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Watch Out For The Trap Street


A trap street is a fictitious street included on a map, often outside the area the map covers, for the purpose of "trapping" potential copyright violators of the map, who will be unable to justify the inclusion of the "trap street" on their map.

Sometimes, rather than actually depicting a street where none exists, a map will misrepresent the nature of a street in a fashion that can still be used to detect copyright violators but is less likely to interfere with navigation. For instance, a map might add nonexistent bends to a street, or depict a major street as a narrow lane, without changing its location or its connections to other streets.

Trap streets are routinely denied and rarely acknowledged by publishers. This is not always the case, however. A popular driver's atlas for the city of Athens, Greece warns inside its front cover that potential copyright violators should beware of trap streets.

In an edition of the BBC Two programme Map Man, first broadcast 17 October 2005, a spokesman for the Geographer's A-Z Street Atlas company claimed there are "about 100" trap streets included in the London edition of the street atlas. One such street, "Bartlett Place", a genuine but misnamed pedestrian walkway, was identified in the programme, and will appear in future editions under its real name, Broadway Walk.

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