Goodbye Streetdirectory.com

I know Streetdirectory.com has been suing people who use their maps without permission and charging daylight robbery prices for their maps. But one thing that you can’t deny is that streetdirectory.com is a very useful site.
There are a couple of street directory website out there. But none of them as as good as Streetdirectory.com in term of interface and speed.
I’m going to miss the convenience that you provide. Rest In Peace.

Virtual Map shuts down street directory site after losing suit
POPULAR online map StreetDirectory.com has shut down, after the company behind it, Virtual Map, lost its appeal against the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) over copyright infringement last week.
The SLA, which originally issued Virtual Map a licence for its maps of Singapore, sued the company in January 2007 for continuing to use the SLA maps even after the licence had expired.
Virtual Map lost it case in the District Court, and was ordered to stop using the infringing materials. It appealed to the High Court, but lost again.
The site was taken down two days ago, said Virtual Map’s managing director Firdhaus Akbar, but the company is currently working with a set of replacement, non-infringing maps, and hopes to bring the site back online in ‘about two days’.
The are based on its own surveys, he said.
The company also intends to appeal to the highest court, the Court of Appeal, to reverse the decision, he said.
An audibly bitter Mr Ackbar, who was interviewed over the phone, said the privately-held company is calling a shareholders meeting either on Friday or Saturday to assess its position.
The meeting will decide whether to continue to provide what he claimed were ‘the best maps in Singapore’, or quit the business here and ‘focus our efforts elsewhere’.
Virtual Map also offers online maps in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.
Mr Ackbar said his company has spent ‘millions’ putting in value-added data like points-of-interest, on top of the maps SLA had provided.
Alternative online maps are available at sites like the SLA’s StreetMap and Show Nearby.

19 comments

  1. Arguably one of the best directories around.
    But thinking back on it, it’s like evil biting them back in their butt. If they are that strict with copyright infringements and goes around with law suits, one had better make sure they are not doing the same. Furthermore, they are profiting with maps they are not entitled to sell once the license ceased. Any original creator of these maps in the right mind would have asked for the same judgement against Virtual Map.
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  2. When this case came up last year, I was pissed. But now Google Maps has a very detailed view of Singapore, so I don’t feel it so much..
    But this is a very bad move from LTA. The least they can do is start a online street directory using their own content.. OR, they can tie up with Google…

  3. Now, what happen to all the data that SD has? Though, the copyrights of the base information are not theirs but the work and technology behind the (defunct) SD are still theirs, the amount of man hours for them can be quite substantial.
    Sigh, just to save money and we now have one less tool to move around in Singapore.

  4. I truly don’t understand why StreetDirectory.com has to be shut down. Why can’t the court ask SLA to work out some partnership or licensing arrangement for StreetDirectory.com?
    By the way, to those interested in reading the initial responses of other people on this issue, please check out an earlier post of mine last year. I’ve also listed a few alternatives to StreetDirectory.com on Comment 12.
    Still, DK, you’ve said it, “I’m going to miss the convenience that you [StreetDirectory.com] provide.”
    ClappingTrees’s last blog post..Will social media change Singaporean politics?

  5. The problem with Singaporeans is that they are not thankful and they want freebies. To be fair to sd.com, these guys do put in the hours of work – you get bus/car routes, food guides, distance calculator etc which SLA maps lacks. These cost money and time and is definitely not FOC. Yet, a large part of their maps are FOC online. Problem is, those who get sued DID use their map on their website. So we do have to remember that.
    As to the SLA lawsuit, we will never know the full details – on what was printed to be read…
    I am a regular user of sd.com and am feeling lost without it…

  6. Hi Clapping Trees,
    I don’t think it is the court’s duty to ask SLA to work out a partnership with StreetDirectory.com. If the two companies could and wanted to work together, they would have settled out of court. Obviously, they can’t come to a satisfactory agreement and thus SLA had terminated streetdirectory’s right to use the map. When that happens, and streetdirectory continued to use SLA’s copyrighted map without approval, then SLA would have to take action against streetdirectory.com.

  7. btw SLA website cant work, i try to search maps but the website doesnt seem to work. Why they have to remove useful website? people need these maps to look for places never been before, lets say for interview. Only make our life more miserable!!!

  8. i for one hope that VM closes down. The way they went after SMEs who used their maps smacked of greed and deliberate planning to maximise profits. Street directory is a scheming firm. If they had any good business ethics, they would have first warned all the offending SMEs, then taken action against those who did not comply. Must remember that back then, it was not that clear that you cannot just lift content from other sites. Everything on the internet was free. Even now, job aggregators and all sorts of aggregators are on very dangerous ground.
    Instead they choose to slap a ridiculous fee of about $3000 per map + a lot more for lawyers/PI firm. And the PI firm was also owned by them. if I remember rightly. And not give people a chance.
    I hope all firms who had to pay them sue them back to reclaim fees paid + interest. I also ask that users stop using streetdirectory. This is a company that take our govt agency for a ride, sue our poor SMEs and now expect singaporeans to support them??? Best if they close down and get out of singapore. I am sure a good honest firm will replace the gap left by them. Someone who can really make a good business out of it. In the meantime, use Google maps, provided by a firm that has a better idea of what it means to be honest.

  9. Most ppl do not know how Streetdirectory.com cheat the money from SMEs, even the victim themself.
    Streetdirectory.com previous put the map price at virtual-map.com
    each map is about $100-$200.
    Then a lot of ppl download map from streetdirectory.com, not even
    know there is such price.
    Streetdirectory later change the price to S$4000-5000 per map, and
    plus lawyer fee, investigation fee about 5000, total claim S$10,000 per map.
    Those victims do not know 2 things: 1: The map open market price
    is only about S$100, even when the SD is sueing SMEs, their Australia sister company is still sell map at A$49 per map.
    2: SMEs do not know so call investigation fee is charged by another company, which is owned by SD directors.
    If Microsoft raised Windows Vista price from S$180 to S$7000, and plus base on this to calculate the demage, what will think about them?

  10. Some years back I spoke to people at VM… they said that after many years, VM and SD was still not making profits. They apparently invested lots of funds in their technology as well as licensing fees to the government… and created SD which was free for millions of Singaporeans to use.
    Their main stream of revenue, if I recall correctly, was from developing location-centric applications for businesses.
    Bear in mind that they invested good money in SD and their technology, and they thus consider their maps as intellectual property just like any other piece of software.
    Many businesses obviously took advantage of the convenience of SD and downloaded maps for placement on their own websites without paying a cent, which constitutes IP infringement. With costs to recover and nobody paying, they had to resort to issuing threats of lawsuits to get people to pay.
    IMO this is not really greed. They created and own the technology, they had disclaimers on the site saying that the maps are not for commercial use, and businesses blatantly disregarded those statements. The same way you won’t say that movie/music producers are greedy just because they want compensation for piracy of their IP.
    Imagine if you start a company providing free services to the public but you want commercial entities to pay for your services… but few actually do. You have costs to cover, employees to pay… what can you do?
    I can’t say that $3000 is a fair rate, nor do I think that slapping lawsuits without ample warning is fair… but in the first place, business should well realize that nothing is for free and perhaps it was their own greed that caused all these troubles (in not wanting to pay for the maps they reproduced).
    I’m now trying to find an alternative for SD now, but nothing seems to be able to match up to their quality. It is a step back for Singapore at a time when cities all over the world are wanting to implement such systems.

  11. knowalittle obviously knows a little about what’s going on… but there are a few things to consider:
    1. The fact that VM australia can sell maps for A$49 doesn’t mean that VM Singapore can or should sell maps at a comparable price. Perhaps VM Australia did not need to pay that much licensing fees to the Australia government? Perhaps Australia’s market is big enough to allow a lower price? Perhaps Australian businesses are more mindful of IP rights and thus most of them pay for their maps and not pirate them like we do in Singapore?
    2. The price of $100 – $200 I believe was for non-commercial uses… if I recall correctly they had different pricing for commercial entities (I may not be 100% correct).
    3. I agree the way they went about ‘recovering costs’ was probably not the most ethical or fair, but again, they were entitled to doing it and anyway this wouldnt have happened if Singapore businesses were ethical enough to pay for the use of the maps right from the beginning.

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