Virtual Map shuts down street directory site after losing suit
By Chua Hian Hou
POPULAR online map StreetDirectory.com has shut down, after the company behind it, Virtual Map, lost its appeal against the Singapore Land Authority's (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.
I think the main problem with other maps is that they do not show the block layout and numbers.
There's a street directory hardcopy called Mighty Minds Street Directory. Not sure affiliated with this online service or not.
Their hardcopy comes with a softcopy on CDROM, u can view them on your computer screen or your PDA.