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Old 02-11-2009, 11:39   #76
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Quote:
I think I have read somewere that MapTech owns the rights to BSB creation and then it will probably be harder...
MapTech does own the rights to the BSB/KAP format,and for that reason I think we should keep a low profile ,even if it is only for private non commercial purpose.

I spent 5 minutes this morning,taking a c-map screen shot of the English Channel and calibrating a working chart for Shipplotter who was the only network showing a target from the Oasis of the Seas on her journey to the Solent.

Taking a long term look at it,perhaps too much effort is spent re-inventing the wheel, when it would be far more rewarding developing a simple raster calibration utility all can use,even commercial developers have realized this,in spite of the fact that they wish to sell us their expensive charts.

OpenCPN already is compatible with the major charting systems and can use it when such charts are available. When they are not,or too expensive for the user,he now only have the option to create alternatives if he is very up and going technically and have endless time to jump through all the burning hoops,backwards!!

Perhaps I am trying in some ways to see that the Emperor is indeed naked!!
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Old 02-11-2009, 13:49   #77
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I am not sure it is that easy, allthough I am by no means a patent expert.

Some info can be found here:
Maptech : Topo Maps Charts Navigation Software GPS and Online MapServer
and here
Maptech : Topo Maps Charts Navigation Software GPS and Online MapServer

The messages are slightly different were the first states that
Quote:
"...The BSB format is a proprietary format supplied to us by NOAA..."
(by Mark, Technical Support Specialist at MapTech, Sep 6, 2000)

The second link goes through the development of the different BSB versions and state
Quote:
Knowing that Maptech's exclusive agreement to produce digital editions of NOAA's nautical charts was set to expire in 2005 (with charts distribution becoming free via downloads from NOAA's web site), Maptech decided to investigate the inner workings of the BSB format. It was determined that while Maptech owns most of the BSB format (and related technology) a small portion - namely the image compression used - was developed by NOAA.
This second info is unsigned, 05/23/2007.


Here
http://home.gdal.org/projects/bsb/ipi.html
Mike Higgins writes in a letter to Frank Warmerdam that he has found the patent for "BSB" charts. He writes that it is patented by NOAA and licensed to MapTech.
This license seems to have expired in 2005, at least the exclusive rights agreement to produce charts ended then.

Anyway, the patent is interesting and can be read here:
Patent ##5,727,090

Mike Higgins says the patent restricts creation of files, not reading them. So maybe it really is an issue to create them. I dont know.
If this really is the case there is probably no other way than to design a new open format for creation of calibrated raster charts, at least until the patent expires in 2015.

On the other hand there are several questions:
-Is it really against the patent to use it for non-profit creation of your own charts?
I doubt that. I think anyone can manufacture anything based on a patent desciption for his/her personal use as long as it is not sold.
-Is it illegal to provide tools to do so?
I doubt that too.
-Are the patent fees payed regularly by NOAA since 1998?
I have no idea how to check that, but it is quite usual.
-Which countries did they apply for patent in? Only the US?

Bare with, the version we are discussing is not is not used by MapTech anymore and NOAA provides all its charts for free.

Do we have any (patent) lawyers reading this?

It really grinds down to:
I mean, really, I would just like to calibrate scanned copies of paper charts I own and calibrate harbour plans from pilot books I own. I am not planning to sell them or release them since I dont want to be sued and I dont want to take the responsibility of getting anyone aground but myself.

/Jonas
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Old 02-11-2009, 19:23   #78
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Jonas,

Is geo tiff an open format? Or, is it possible to use a tool to convert geo tiff to some other open format? If yes, then it is ok for anyone to convert the open format to their own format - even if that format is similar to the BSB format.

Paul
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Old 02-11-2009, 20:42   #79
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Patents

jonasaberg....

I ran the patent program as CTO for a major PC Manufacturer in the 90's.

Patent law is convoluted, but the phrase you are seeking is:

No person may "make, use, or sell" the patented invention without a license.

"Use" is of course the key word. What does that mean?

I agree with Sinbad7 on the issue of BSB charts. Its a can of worms. Low profile is best.

OTOH, we could easily create a new format based on a literal Mapcal header with appended TIFF file, and coerce opencpn to read this as a private format chart. Of course, this precludes use in any other ECS until or unless the authors of same incorporate the new format, which will be open source by definition as part of opencpn.

Keep in mind that the primary motivation for the patented compressed format of BSB was the expense and shortage of disk space in the early days. Disk is cheap and fast now....

FWIW
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Old 03-11-2009, 02:37   #80
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A very good idea Dave. We have discussed similar subjects before on this forum, and ... it is usually back to square one.
Your suggestion would allow this project to actually leave all this behind.
I suggest that you come up with your own text header format suitable for OpenCPN. SeaClear is not open source and I think, that to avoid possible future conflicts, it is best to come up with a new format in all possible respects. Converting between different header formats is not problem, as we have seen in this thread.

Thomas
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Old 03-11-2009, 06:00   #81
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I agree. I've been thinking about this for a while. I think the new format should be a separate open source project not affiliated with any software package. Then maybe a separate project for utilities, like a parm editor, geo-referencer, conversions, etc.

It should actually be a set of formats. The two I think of are something like the geo-tiff and then something like the world file concept.

Warning: I am not a graphics or geo expert. The following is just what I've picked up while trying to come up with a way to create my own charts. It may not all be accurate! There are probably several people in here that know this stuff better than I do.

For anyone reading this not familiar:
geo-tiff. First, tiff = "Tagged Image Format". A tiff image is actually a combination of an image with a text header. It has a set of standard tags. Within these tags is a set of what they call "user defined tags" where users can make their own non-standard tags. The geo community came up with their own standards of how to use these user tags to define geo-referencing. So, it's a "standard" way to use "non-standard" tags.

Their tags do not include all the information we need, but it is probably close. We could either use theirs as a starting point or design our own.

(I think BSB charts are nothing more than a tif with a set of totally non-standard tags)

The world file concept is for image formats that do not have tags, like almost all formats other than tif. It has pretty much the same information in a text file with a defined extension. Like a jpg world file is .jgw.
I think we should come up with a format for both using the same sets of tags.

That's probably the easy part. Then we need Dave to implement it.

I think the geo-tiff is public domain, but even if it is not, we just come up with our own tags. It'd be kinda nice to keep it compliant with geo-tiff but just add tags for ourselves. That would make it easier to share with the geo community. We could grab a geo-tiff and just add info to make it a marine chart. Even after making it a marine chart, it would still be usable as a geo by the geo community, so charts we made from scratch could be used by them. AND, the resulting image can STILL be directly read and edited by any graphics program that supports .tif. AND I bet we could get some help from boaters in the geo community.

I think there are marine packages that support geo-tiffs, so I think all the basic reference information is already in there. Might just need a few tags for unit of measure, chart name, etc. They may not have the concept of the PLYs, I don't know. The work on that front might actually be relatively easy.

Anyone well versed with geo-tiffs? If not, I will start research this evening. I already have a few links from previous research, and a coupla people I can send inquiries to.

So, my proposal is we should come up with a "standard" way to add "non-standard" tags to the geo-tiffs "standard" way to use "non-standard" tif tags.

-dan
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Old 03-11-2009, 07:49   #82
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As we seem to agree on a new course for the development of a calibration facility for OpenCPN,easy enough to use for even the less technically endowed amongst us,I want to use this opportunity to thank all of you who made the present .kap conversion possible. I know it took many hours of hard work. And, don't forget,we now HAVE a conversion system which can be used until a replacement is created. Thanks again all.
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Old 03-11-2009, 08:42   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sinbad7 View Post
As we seem to agree on a new course for the development of a calibration facility for OpenCPN,easy enough to use for even the less technically endowed amongst us,I want to use this opportunity to thank all of you who made the present .kap conversion possible. I know it took many hours of hard work. And, don't forget,we now HAVE a conversion system which can be used until a replacement is created. Thanks again all.
And we can write a conversion tool to convert the MapCal templates to whatever format we come up with, so the current work won't be lost.

-dan
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Old 03-11-2009, 11:37   #84
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Being a complete techno-cretin I am in complete awe of anyone who can do what you guys are playing with! Keep up the good work!

My (and I guess many others) hopes and wishes are for all these chart possibilities to eventually coalesce into an event where all I have to do is press a "download" button - which is about the upper level of my techno-savvyness
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Old 04-11-2009, 14:00   #85
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Dan,
I heard from Olle that you emailed him a bit later than me.

We are both Swedish and made the conversation in Swedish. He wrote that he gave you an abreviated version. Why dont you publish what he wrote, and if he wrote some more detail to me in Swedish I will translate it. He has no problem with sharing his ideas and experience from developing the wci format, and argued why it can not be made an open standard.

I think both you and I wrote him more or less the same questions.

The most important is probably that GeoTIFF is probably the wrong track.

/Jonas
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Old 04-11-2009, 14:47   #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonasaberg View Post
Dan,
I heard from Olle that you emailed him a bit later than me.

We are both Swedish and made the conversation in Swedish. He wrote that he gave you an abreviated version. Why dont you publish what he wrote, and if he wrote some more detail to me in Swedish I will translate it. He has no problem with sharing his ideas and experience from developing the wci format, and argued why it can not be made an open standard.

I think both you and I wrote him more or less the same questions.

The most important is probably that GeoTIFF is probably the wrong track.

/Jonas
I'll have to wait until I get home to look at that e-mail. I'll post it this evening sometime.

Thanks!

-dan
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Old 05-11-2009, 16:28   #87
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Dave and others,

Regarding the can of worms...

I have been thinking about the "Make, use or sell..." phrase and looked it up in Swedish legislation were it says that a patented invention is protected from profesional (or maybe commercial) use of the invention.
Translating legal text is totally out of my league...

For the Swedish speaking group members the text is here: Svensk forfattningssamling (SFS) - Riksdagen

This however made me surf on to find a similar text about international or US law and I found this link to the World intelectial property organization on wikipedia.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The test says similarly to the Swedish text that
Quote:
Patent protection means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed or sold without the patent owner's consent.
Maybe this is the key. This may mean as long as one is not creating BSB files profesionally it is indeed legal to produce them in the BSB format.

It would probably be technically easier to sort out and reverse engineer the BSB format in more detail than to design and implement a totally new format.

/Jonas
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Old 05-11-2009, 17:16   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonasaberg View Post
Dave and others,

Regarding the can of worms...

I have been thinking about the "Make, use or sell..." phrase and looked it up in Swedish legislation were it says that a patented invention is protected from profesional (or maybe commercial) use of the invention.
Translating legal text is totally out of my league...

For the Swedish speaking group members the text is here: Svensk forfattningssamling (SFS) - Riksdagen

This however made me surf on to find a similar text about international or US law and I found this link to the World intelectial property organization on wikipedia.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The test says similarly to the Swedish text that


Maybe this is the key. This may mean as long as one is not creating BSB files profesionally it is indeed legal to produce them in the BSB format.

It would probably be technically easier to sort out and reverse engineer the BSB format in more detail than to design and implement a totally new format.

/Jonas
Interesting. That may be why the tif2bsb utility is out there with no repercussions. I know someone who may know who to ask.

-dan
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Old 06-11-2009, 19:00   #89
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Yet more BSB info

I can see from this thread you guys have done a whole lot of work...

I didn't see this reference anywhere, though, and those involved in BSB format may find it interesting:

http://www.iho.shom.fr/publicat/free...ns_for_RNC.pdf

There is a test dataset available here:

http://www.iho.shom.fr/publicat/free...DS/BSB_TDS.zip

If someone chooses to, they might ask MapTech for the actual format doc, rather than inferring from the test doc. The test doc says MapTech will give the format doc out upon request. However, I imagine that would accelerate any intellectual rights issue confrontation

I'm still fumbling around trying to come up to speed with what's happening - sorry if this has already been posted.

Mark
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Old 06-11-2009, 19:36   #90
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Here's another tool that may be of interest - many of the web links to this were wrong, here is a working one as of today:

Nautical Chart Reprojector - NOAA Digital Coast
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