A website designer who shrunk the digital maps of subway systems in Los Angeles and 11 other cities so they could be displayed on an iPod's 2-inch color screen has been ordered to stop posting the maps on the Web, it has been revealed. William Bright received a message from the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority, telling him to cease and desist immediately, and to take the NYC subway map off of his website. Not long after that, the manager of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District's website also demanded that Bright stop offering a map of the BART system.

...cities don't sell their subway maps, and Bright isn't selling them, either. Instead, he's saving the New York MTA and BART the expense of adapting their maps for the growing number of riders who keep iPods stuffed in their pockets or purses.

And if the maps from the New York MTA and BART have intellectual property value, it's because these systems were funded by riders and taxpayers, not private investors. The transit agencies may want to license their logos for T-shirts and baseball caps, but their maps should belong to the public.